Balaklava (Ukrainian: Балаклáва, Russian: Балаклáва,
Crimean Tatar: Balıqlava, Greek: Σύμβολον) is a former city
Crimean Peninsula and part of the city of Sevastopol. It was a
city in its own right until 1957 when it was formally incorporated
into the municipal borders of
Sevastopol by the Soviet government. It
also is an administrative center of
Balaklava Raion that used to be
part of the
Crimean Oblast before it was transferred to Sevastopol
Municipality. Population: 18,649 (2014 Census).
2 Underground submarine base
3 See also
5 External links
Balaklava harbor, 1830
Balaklava harbor, 1855, photographed by Roger Fenton
Balaklava has changed possession several times during its history. A
settlement at its present location was founded under the name of
Symbolon (Σύμβολον) by the Ancient Greeks, for whom it was an
important commercial city.
During the Middle Ages, it was controlled by the
Byzantine Empire and
then by the Genoese who conquered it in 1365. The Byzantines called
the town Yamboli and the Genoese named it Cembalo. The Genoese built a
large trading empire in both the
Mediterranean and the Black Sea,
buying slaves in
Eastern Europe and shipping them to
Egypt via the
Crimea, a lucrative market hotly contested with by the Venetians.
The ruins of a Genoese fortress positioned high on a clifftop above
the entrance to the
Balaklava Inlet are a popular tourist attraction
and have recently become the stage for a Medieval festival. The
fortress is a subject of Mickiewicz's penultimate poem in his 1825
cycle of Crimean Sonnets.
In 1475 Cembalo
City was conquered by Turks and they rename it to
Balyk-Yuva (Fish's Nest) which subsequently became Balaklava.
During the Russo-Turkish War, 1768-1774, the Russian troops invaded
Crimea in 1771. Thirteen years later,
Crimea was definitively annexed
by the Russian Empire. After that, Crimean Tatar and Turkish
population was forcefully replaced by Greek Orthodox people from the
In 1787 the city was visited by Catherine the Great.
The town became famous for the
Battle of Balaclava
Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean
War thanks to the suicidal Charge of the Light Brigade, a British
cavalry charge due to a misunderstanding sent up a valley strongly
held on three sides by the Russians, in which about 250 men were
killed or wounded, and over 400 horses lost, effectively reducing the
size of the mounted brigade by two thirds and destroying some of the
finest light cavalry in the world to no military purpose. The
British poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson immortalized the battle in verse in
his Charge of the Light Brigade.
The balaclava, a tight knitted garment covering the whole head and
neck with holes for the eyes and mouth, also takes its name from this
settlement, where soldiers first wore them. Also numerous towns
founded in English-speaking countries in later parts of the 19th
Century were named "Balaklava" (see
During the Second World War,
Balaklava was the southernmost point in
the Soviet-German lines.
In 1954 Balaklava, together with the whole Crimea, passed from Russia
to Ukraine. It became part of the independent state of
1991. Today there are over 50 monuments in the town dedicated to the
remembrance of military valour in past wars, including the Great
Patriotic War, the
Crimean War and the Russian Civil War.[citation
In 2014, due to the 2014 Crimean crisis, Balaklava, along with the
rest of the Crimea, was annexed by Russian Federation.
Underground submarine base
One of the monuments is an underground, formerly classified submarine
base that was operational until 1993. The base was said to be
virtually indestructible and designed to survive a direct atomic
impact. During that period,
Balaklava was one of the most secret
residential areas in the Soviet Union. Almost the entire population of
Balaklava at one time worked at the base; even family members could
not visit the town of
Balaklava without a good reason and proper
identification. The base remained operational after the collapse of
Soviet Union in 1991 until 1993 when the decommissioning process
started. This process saw the removal of the warheads and low-yield
torpedoes. In 1996, the last Russian submarine left the base. The base
has since been opened to the public as the Naval museum complex
Army camp at
Balaklava during the Crimean War
Balaklava - view from the Genoese fortress
Entrance to submarine Soviet navy base
Cape Aya – a headland near
Balaklava known for its scenic grottoes
Russian Federal State Statistics Service (2014).
"Таблица 1.3. Численность населения
Крымского федерального округа,
городских округов, муниципальных
районов, городских и сельских
поселений" [Table 1.3. Population of Crimean Federal
District, Its Urban Okrugs, Municipal Districts, Urban and Rural
Settlements]. Федеральное статистическое
наблюдение «Перепись населения в
Крымском федеральном округе». ("Population
Census in Crimean Federal District" Federal Statistical Examination)
(in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved January 4,
^ Sergei R. Grinevetsky, et. al. ” The
Black Sea Encyclopedia”,
Springer, 2014: 80-81.
^ Some rural communities surrounding
Balaklava remained populated by
Crimean Tatars until their deportation in 1944.
^ Brighton, Terry, Hell Riders: The Truth about the Charge of the
Light Brigade. London: Penguin, 2005. New York: Henry Holt, 2005.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Balaklava.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Balaklava.
Balaklava and the
Sevastopol Inquiry, 1855, by Commander
(in Russian) Genoese fortress in Balaklava
(in English) Russian underground Submarine Base Englishrussia.com
(in English) Russian underground Submarine Base Iconicarchive.ch
(in Russian) Panorams of Balaklava
(in English) Photos of underground Submarine Base
Administrative divisions of Sevastopol
Administrative center: Sevastopol