History of Crimea

Caused by turbulent history of Crimea and due to its favourable location Crimean peninsula throught centiries had been known as a crossroad of different tribes, civilizations and cultures.


Ancient times in Crimean history


(photo: ruins of Khersones in Sevastopol)

The first inhabitants of Crimea, known to us by ancient sources, were the Cimmerians (12th century B.C.). In the foothills and mountains Crimea, as well as on the southern coast, there also lived the Taurians, related to the Kizil-Koba archaeological culture. They named the mountainous and coastal part of the Crimea as Taurica, Tauria, or Taurida and later that name has been spread  on whole peninsula.

A new period of history began with the capture of Taurica by the Scythians in the 6th-5th centuries B.C. When the Scythians dominated the steppes, the Greeks based their trading colonies at the seaside of the Crimea. Greek colonists brought shipbuilding, wine-making, olive-trees growing, built temples, theaters and odeons to the shores of Taurica.

In the Crimea there were plenty of Greek settlements –“polices”. Ancient Greeks created the great historical and literary monuments of the Crimea. Peninsula is mentioned in the drama of “Iphigenia in Taurida” by Euripides, in the “Iliad” and “Odyssey” of Homer, and in the works of Herodotus.

So the population of the Crimea at that time was a complex ethnic composition, which included the descendants of the Cimmerians, Taurians, Scythians, Greeks, Sarmatians, and Alans.


Medieval ages in history of Crimea

Khan's Palace Bakhchysaray

(photo: Khan’s Palace in Bakhchysaray)

Scythian existed in Crimean peninsula until the second half of the 3rd century A.D. They were forced out by the Goths, who came here around the beginning of the 3rd century from Central Europe in cause of Great Migration of Nations. But under the powerful pressure from the Huns in the IV century, they were forced to mountainous places of the Crimea, where gradually mingled with the descendants of the Scythians and Taurians.

Later in the 12th-15th centuries, descendants of the Goths and other nations have established the Christian principality Theodoro in the mountainous Crimea that has been existed till Ottoman invasion in 1475 .

In the 9th century the Northern part of peninsula becomes the object of attack of Kievan Rus warriors who came from the Dnieper basin. The rivalry of Russia and Khazaria ended up arresting the Khazar Khanate in 960-s, and Khazar possessions on the Taman peninsula became part of the Kievan Rus. In 988 Prince Vladimir of Kyivan Rus took the official baptism in Chersonesus (now – Sevastopol).The purpose of the rivalry were to control  important crossroad of the  trade relations as Crimea  were .

In 13th-15thcenturies, the Crimea was under the control of the Golden Horde Empire. After the collapse of the Golden Horde in 1441 the Crimea was occupied by the Crimean Khanate in steppe area, by the Principality of Theodoro in the mountains, and by the Genoese colonies on the south coast.

As it was mentioned, the crossroad of important routes, in the Middle Ages, the Crimea played a prominent role in international trade. Goods were going to Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Constantinople, Syria, Iran, the Caucasus, Khorezm. For about 300 years the Crimea was the part of the Great Silk Road.

Since the end of the 15th century, Crimean Khanate committed constant raids to Ukraine, Poland and Muscovy. The main purpose of the raids was to capture slaves and their resale to the Turkish markets.


Since 18th c. to modern time in history of Crimea

Swallow's Nest Yalta

(photo: Swallow’s Nest palace near Yalta)

Russian-Turkish war of the years 1768-74, ended the Ottoman governance in the Crimea. After the war Russian Empress Catherine II the Great had annexed the Crimea to Russian Empire and took a trip to her new land.

Since then south cousr of Crimean peninsula has become the summer residence for Russian nobility. Higher ranks and titles of the Russian State – Potemkin, Vorontsov, Yusupov, Alexander III, Nikolas II and many others came to the Crimea for summer holidays and established plenty of the palaces along the south coast.

Later at the beginning of the 20 th century two famous Russian doctors Botkin and Dmitriev discovered the curative effect of local climate and Crimea has become known as a world famous health resort.

In modern history of Crimea it has become famous for Yalta conference of Allied Powers that took place in 1945. In Livadia, the former residence of Nikolas II, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin had a meeting to resolve future of the world after WW II.

On February 19, 1954, Crimea was annexed from Russia and till now, it is the  part of Ukraine.

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