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Crimea Tours

Massandra Palace

Massandra PalaceOff the Yalta - Simferopol highway winding up in the trees to the mountains is a narrow unpaved path. A several minutes` walk, and, all of a sudden, opening up before your eyes is a green meadow and beyond it a fairy-tale castle. It is not without reason that sometimes it was a box.

First the forest-covered mountains above Massandra heard the axe cutting the woods in the 1830s. At that time, the legendary governor-general Michael Vorontsov built a house for himself. And in 1878 it was already his son, count Semyon Vorontsov, who decided to erect a palace on that place. The construction works, when only interior finishing was left to be done, had to be stopped because of the customer`s death.

In 1889 Massandra estaate and and not finished for that time palace became a property of Romanov family. Alexander III, the new owner, liked this palce very much. But in 1894 Alexander II died in Livadia estate.

Nikholas II, the last tsar, who assumed the throne was in love with Livadia, beign indifferent to the father`s place. As the funds had beed almost exhausred, construction work dragged on for eight years more and were completed only in 1902. The Romanovas came to Massandra only on picnics and for hunting.

Ten years after the monarchy, the Soviet government made a descision to transform the fairy-tale castle into the "Proletarian Health" Sanatorium and the working people had improving their health in the emperor`s palace up to the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. In the war-time , judging by inscription in German preserved on the roof of the palace, quartered in the castle was some German military unit. After the victory, in 1946 for some time the castle housed the Magarach Wine and Winemaking Research Institute.

In 1947 the Massandra Palace again attracted attention of the high and mighty. When an issue arose of arranging in the Crimea rest for Josef Stalin, lieutenant-general Ignatishvili (Stalin`s milk-brother), chose the Massandra Palace of Alexander III. In the September of 1947 at the order of Ignatishvili the palace and outbuilding were cleared overnight and the territory was placed under guard.

The massandra Palace is sure to remeber Lavrentiy Beria, the closest assistant of Koba (Stalin`s nick-name). In 1948 Josef Stalin arrived at Bolshaya Sosnovka - this name was assigned to this establishment in the documentation - for relaxsation. The peoples leader neither swam in the sea, nor lay in the sun. He, mostly, walked in the park and worked in the garden.

After the Boss`s death, the castle of Alexander III was made part of the system of summer residences for top party and goverment executives, developed by Nikita Khrushchov on the Crimean peninsula. In 1974 at the order of Leonid Brezhnev in the vicinity of the palace a light pavilion, Shatyor (meaning marquee), to host political meetings was constructed, and since thet the summer residence complex in the mountain Massandra has acquired its present-day appeatence.

Both Khrushchov and Brezhnev were keen on hunting. Being a good hunter, Nikita Sergeevich did not like to go hunting with amateurs. That is why in Massandra a special shooting range was built where guests supposed to share hunting with the General Secretary, were to pass kind of exam in accurate shooting.

The USSR broke down without a single shot, and in the early 1990s a decision was made to turn the Massandra "box" into a museum. The first visitors were admitted on June, 1992.

Sergey Tsarapora private guide