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Brief History of Chersonesus
A sight of current of town of Chersonesus was
occupied since the Stone Age, but its official history begins in the
5th century BC when it was founded as a Greek colony. The city
flourished in the 4th and 3rd century BC. In the late 3rd century BC
Chersonesus suffered several devastating raids by the Scythians.
Residents of the city asked for help at the nearby Pontus State.
After Pontus was destroyed by the Roman Empire and its last ruler
Mitridatus committed suicide, Chersonesus became part of the Roman
Empire and later Byzantine Empire. The city was completely destroyed
in 1399 during Mongol invasion under leadership of khan Edigey. It
was abandoned for centuries until first archeological digs were
undertaken in the 19th century. Today Chersonesus is one of the most
visited sites in Crimea due to its magnificent ruins, rich history
and close position to Sevastopol.
It is also important to note that Chersonesus played
and important role in the history of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.
All three countries consider themselves a historic descendants of a
medieval kingdom of Rus. In the late 10th century envoys from its
capital (Kiev at the time)
came to Chersonesus where they first encountered with the Greek
Orthodox Faith, an official religion of the Byzantine Empire. Rus
Prince Vladimir agreed to strike a peace treaty with the Byzantines,
married a Byzantine princess and took a Christian baptism in the
Chersonesus Cathedral. He also accepted Eastern Orthodox
Christianity as an official religion of its people. For better or
for worse, but this decision became the dominant force behind
forming unique culture of Russian- Ukraine and Belarus, separate
from the Western and Central Europe that accepted baptism from the
Roman Catholic Vatican.
Main Signs in Chersonesus
Cathedral of Saint Vladimir aka Admiralty Cathedral (Chersonesus)
Cathedral of Saint Vladimir or Admiralty Cathedral in
Sevastopol is a Russian Orthodox Church that was devoted to Russian
duke Vladimir. He was the first ruler who officially accepted
Christianity as a state religion. According to historic records
Saint Vladimir was baptised in Chersonesus. The original basilica
was destroyed, but historians in the late 18th and early 19th
century identified largest church as the one that was possibly used
for historic event.
The history of Saint Vladimir began in 1825 upon
orders of Admiral A.S. Greig. After four years architect K.A. Ton
introduced his draft for a Byzantine five domed cathedral. The
project was approved, but the work didn't start for almost another
two decades. Another Russian admiral Lazarev wrote a letter to
government in Saint Petersburg asking for more Orthodox churches for
growing Russian population of Sevastopol nearby. Six years later in
1848 the work on a new cathedral dedicated to legendary Russian
ruler have began in Chersonesus. Admiral Lazarev died in 1851 and
was buried in the underground crypt of the church that was still in
process of construction. After Crimean War broke out in 1853
mausoleum of the Cathedral of Saint Vladimir became burring ground
for other famous Russian admirals who were killed in action. This
includes V.I. Istomin, V.A. Kornilov and of course P.S. Nahimov.
At the end of the Crimean War construction of the
Cathedral of Saint Vladimir have resumed in 1858. It took another 30
years for the church to be completed. In 1862 its design was changed
by architect Avdeev. He kept the original size, but removed four
domes to give it a more Byzantine architectural style to fit
possible appearance of the original church. In October 1881 lower
church was consecrated in honor of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of
sailors. The upper church was dedicated to Saint Vladimir in 1888.
Upon arrival of the Soviet Atheist government
Cathedral of Saint Vladimir was closed in 1932. The building of the
Orthodox church was changed into workshops for aircrafts of the
Black Sea Navy Aviation and equipment warehouse. The building was
badly damaged during World War II during Siege of Sevastopol.
Restoration project began in 1966. Once restored it was turned into
a military museum of liberation of Sevastopol. Only on September 19,
1991 the Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Underground crypts were marked by a large Christian cross in a shape
of a black marble.
Fog Bell (Chersonesus)
Fog Bell of Chersonesus is a modest sight, but with a
lot of history behind it. Originally it was cast in 1776 from the
captured Turkish cannons that were taken during successful military
campaign of a Russian empress Catherine the Great. It was set here
to warn passing ships of dangerous conditions during foggy periods
when the visibility was minimal. During the Crimean War Chersonesus
was occupied by joint British, French and Turkish forces. French
soldiers removed the Fog Bell and brought back to France. Only
during reign of Alexander III when the relationship between
countries have softened up the Fog Bell was returned to its former