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Excursions

The Crimea is the World in Miniature

Mangup Cave TownThe Crimea has a bit more than 2 million peopie of the population. Yet, over 100 nationalities are represented here. And such ethnic diversity is again a factor of the peninsula history, but, this time, human history.
Who has not lived on its territory! Evidence of primitive man settlement dating back to Neanderthal period (Kiik-Koba Cave, about 100,000 years ago), more than 100 Stone Age sites (40,000 - 5,000 B.C.) have been identified here. The Crimean steppes abound in big and small mounds of later periods, Copper and Bronze Ages (3,000 - 2,000 B.C.). Mangup, one of the most ancient cave towns, was inhabited as far back as 6,000 years ago. And the last inhabitants left it only the late 18th century!

Ancient written sources (Homer's epic poems «lliad» and «Odyssey») mention Cimmerian and Tauri herds and farmer tribes living in the Crimea (IIth - 3d centuries B.C.). That is why ancient Greeks named the peninsula Taurida. In the period the 7th to the 4th centuries B.C., the Crimea was inhabited by Scythians. From the 6th century B.C., many Greek colonies appeared in the Crimea (Chersonesus Tauric, Kerkinitida, Panticapaeum, Feodosia and others). The Crimea suffered from numerous invaders: Romans (the 1st- 3d centuries A.D.), Sarmatians, Goths, Huns (the 3d - 6th centuries), Polovtsy (11th century), Mongol - Tatars (13th century), Turks (15th century). In the Middle Ages the Crimea was home to a great many colonies of Venetians and Genoese (Genoese fortress in Sudak, ruins of a fortress in Simeyiz and others). In different times, colonies were established here by Byzantines, Germans, Czechs, Estonians, Armenians... The famous medieval traveller Marco Polo also visited this place (the trading office of his elder brother was located in the Crimean town of Surozh). And all of these nations have left here a tiny part of their culture and soul. We can have a glimpse of their vestiges either in
regional historical museums (they are 26 in the Crimea), or at open-air sites, visiting impressive ruins of antique cities - trading posts, medieval castles and fortresses. All the three religions have left their traces on the Crimean land - their temples. The Crimea is also a launch place of the Christianity epoch to Russia (Prince Vladimir was bap-
tized in Chersonesus). A Great Silk Road from China also went through the Crimea (the area of the present-day Sudak). The Crimea can be called a natural historical and archaeological museum.

It is appropriate to mention a medieval historian who said about Surozh (an ancient name of Sudak) that it is "a blend of all the nations and faiths". These words can even be more justly applied to the whole Crimea, as it has been involved in the history of the most multiple civilizations of the East and West. Indeed, the Crimea - is the world in the miniature!

Such interweaving of fates, cultures, traditions, customs, religions, different ways of life, mentalities could not but be reflected in Crimean architecture. An architecture style is kind of a nation' s presentation language. The Crimean style was destined to be harmonized with seemingly incompatible styles of West and East, due to the ethnic uniqueness of the peninsula. In the history of world architecture there exists a concept of "Crimean architecture". This trend involves combination of different styles: classical, Gothic, elements of Armenian, Bulgarian, Turkish and other architectures. The Crimean style is particularly manifest in the architecture of the mosques designed by well-known Turkish architect Hadji Sinan, in the summer houses ensembles (Yalta, Simeyiz, and others) and the palaces complexes of the late 19th - early 20th centuries (the Livadia Palace, Vorontsov Palace in Alupka and others). "West is West, East is East. And they will never come together", said the great expert of the East Rudyard Kipling. What would he say after a visit to Crimea?!

Crimean architecture gives us still another occasion to exclaim, the Crimea is the world in minature!
So much has been said above, just to show, how huge and unique is recreational, therapeutic and tourist potential of the peninsula. A trip to the Crimea is a beneficial stimulation to the body, and a treat to mind and soul.
This small piece of the main-land has always been a titbit, and very often an apple of discord, for dozens of countries and empires. But the Crimean people have always been open, friendly, sincerely hospitable. They are always glad to welcome guests, to make guests be in love with their wonderful land. And in case you have not yet experienced that feast of life, the Crimea can give you, be sure to come here. Then you will understand simple, but eternal words of the Russian writer Eugene Markov: "Those who breathe in the Crimean air, breathe in joy of life, poetry, longevity. Do hurry up and leave for Crimea, those who are able, those who still have time...".

Sergey Tsarapora private guide