Genoese Fortress in Sudak – fortifications of the XIV century in the Crimea

The Genoese fortress in Sudak is one of the most significant and famous sights of the Crimea. It stands on an ancient fossilized coral reef that has risen over the millions of years from the sea to a height of more than 150 meters. The slopes of the Fortress Mountain are only half-covered with grass, and the rest are ancient bare stones, on which the ramparts stand. There are 14 towers of the outer line of defense, and four of the inner one. The walls and tower battlements still look solid and impressive, although their construction was carried out in the period from 1371.

View of Fortification Wall through a Window of Consular Castle
The view from a third-story window of Consular Castle of Genoese of fortification walls stretching along a mountain on the Black Sea coast.

Story of Sudak Fortress

There are many moments in history when it is fortifications that become famous architectural attractions and are preserved for centuries. Sudak Fortress is one of them. The bay of Sudak city, protected on three sides from the mainland winds by the mountains, today is famous for a record number of warm and sunny days per year (there are even more of them here than in Nice), but earlier it was the intersection of major trade routes, including seafaring. It was from here that the Golden Coast of Crimea (or south, South Coast) began (and begins now). Therefore, Sudak was an incredibly significant point on the map. In 1370, it was still called Sugdeya or Soldaya and really belonged to the Genoese, the colonialists from Genoa, the North Italian trading republic of the High Middle Ages. Construction lasted almost 100 years, and during this time more than 15 consuls were replaced. Until now, each tower in the defensive line bears the name of the consul at which it was built.

Museum of the Crimean Citadel today

The exposition available for visiting includes:

  • Consular Towers (it is interesting that they were built with only three walls) with preserved heraldic slabs perpetuating the names of the noble Italians who ruled the fortress;
  • The Main Gate (they were also used as a trap, since there was a “pocket” and fortifications inside, towers with loopholes for shelling);
  • Observation Towers up to 15 meters high – Portovaya (Port Tower) and Dozornaya (Watch Tower);
  • High Consular Castle with internal elements;
  • Excavation sites and cisterns, underground water tanks (at that time, despite the highlands and proximity of the sea, there was a water supply here);
  • Temple with an Arcade;
  • The active Orthodox church of St. Paraskeva.

On a sightseeing tour, you will learn why one main tower is called Maiden’s, you can walk along mountain trails and imagine how glorious knights lived inside (and later – Russian security garrisons). On the territory, there is a museum located in a temple with an arcade. It stores artifacts from local excavations. Surprisingly, the consular castle of the 13th century was also perfectly preserved: inside you can see the fireplace and stairs, look at the sun and the sea through the narrow loopholes. The entire exposition (the inner space of the Genoese fortress) occupies almost 30 hectares. The place is so atmospheric and unusual that some of the Masters and Margarita series were filmed here, as well as famous Russian films about pirates. Every year in the summer they provide in Sudak Fortress a festival of reenactors “Genoese Helmet”: for “Siege of the City” and fights with swords “Knights” come from all over the world!

Photographs from the Tour

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