There are several ancient cities on the territory of the Eastern Crimea, among them is Kerch.

The city has rich historical background and is considered to be an archeological reserve.

In the 6th century B.C.Greek colonists from Miletus founded a city-state named Panticapeum (“Fish Way”)on Mount Mithridat. Soon Panticapaeum became the capital of the Bosporan Kingdom.

During the rule of Mithradates VI Eupator(121 — 63 B.C.), Panticapaeum became the capital of much more powerful and extensive Kingdom of Pontus. The main city’s exports was salted fish, such as herring, mullet, anchovy, sprat, red mullet, sturgeon, flounder. There were many beautiful vineyards around the city, so the city’s exports was grain, vine and wine-making was also common here. Panticapaeum minted its own coins, it was cupper, silver and gold coins. Ethnically the city’s population was Scythian.

In ancient Panticapeum majestic buildings were set up on the Mithridates Mount.

The archeological excavations on Mithridates Mount discovered the monumental barrows with rich burials of slave-owning nobility of the Bosporan Kingdom well preserved in the vicinity. There are the Royalburials of the 4th century B.C. at Kul-Oba testifies (438 B.C.) .

Some structures were found which were built in the capital of the Bosporan Kingdom. It was the building for the city officials who gathered to decide matters of the life. A sacred fire of Hestia, the goddess of hearth, was kept here.

From the 6th centuryPanticapeum was under Byzantine Empire control. By order of Emperor Justinian I a citadel named Bospor was built there. Bospor was the centre of Greek Christianity influence in the Crimea.In the early Middle Ages, Korchev was an outpost of Byzantium.

In the 7th century the Turkic Khazars took control of Bospor.Khazars is a Turkic-speaking tribes who converted to Judaism.

Khazars gave a new name to ancient Panticapeum – it was Karcha, in old Russian language – Korchev.

Christianity was a major religion in Korchev(now Kerch) during the period of Khazar rule. In the center of Kerch you’ll see the outstanding monument of Byzantine architecture — the Church of St. John the Baptist. This beautiful Church was founded in 717. It is the oldest Christian orthodoxchurch in the Crimea and in Ukraine.

From the 10th centuries Korchev was a Slavic settlement and the city belonged to Tmutarakan the Old Rus principality .In 11th century Korchev was a center of trade between Rus’, Crimean Greek-cities, Caucasus, and the near Orient.

In 1475 city was passed to the Turkish Ottoman Empire, who served Kerch as a slave-market. Zaporizhian Cossacks made the repeated raids against Ottoman’s forces in Kerch.

In 1706 Turks built a fortress Yenikale near Kerch, for the defense the shore of Kerch Strait against Russian military forces in Azov area. In 1771 Russian Army invaded Crimea. By the Peace Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji in 1774, Kerch and Yenikale were ceded to Russia.

In 1790 admiral Fyodor Ushakov the command of Russian naval forces defeated the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Kerch Strait. The Turkish heritage has been almost completely wiped out. In the Crimean War (1853- 1856) Kerch was devastated by British forces in 1855.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941 – 1945), Kerch was the site of heavy fighting between Soviet Army and Nazi Germany.

Nowadays there is the Glory Obelisk on the top of the Mithridates Mount, commemorating the feats of the liberators of Kerch, soldiers of the Sea-Side Army and seamen of the Azov Flotilla. The Glory Obelisk is 14 meters high, in 1959 the Eternal Flame was lit there.

The Adzhimushkay catacombs (mines) in the city’s suburbs were the site of guerrilla warfare against the occupation. The Adzhimushkai quarries have become a monument to the heroic defenders of Kerch in the Great Patriotic War. Here remnants of fortifications are preserved. The entrance into the underground museum is flanked with high pylons set up in 1982.

The ancient city grows younger every year acquiring new features.

Today Kerch is considered as a city of shipbuilders and fishermen -«Zaliv» («Gulf») shipbuilding factory that produces and repairs tankers and cargo ships.

Kerch is a city of metallurgists — Kerch Metallurgical Works Factory launched in 1900and Kamysh-Burun Iron Ore Plant .

Kerch has a large harbour on the Kerch Strait – it’s a key to the Sea of Azov. From the Mithridates Mount you can see the whole of the city: its buildings, squares, parks, streets, ships in the port, the outlines of the Taman Peninsula across the Kerch Strait.

There are several railroad terminals and a small airport in Kerch. Ferry transportation across the Kerch Strait was established in 1953, connecting Crimea and the Krasnodar Krai.

Education in Kerch.

Kerch has 9 institutes and branches of Ukrainian and Russian universities, shipbuilding and polytechnical colleges, medical school, 6 PTU schools and 28 schools.

Kerch became a popular summer resort among people of former USSR. Despite the lack of beaches in town’s area, there are a lot of them at distance of 20 minute travel by bus, train or taxi.

Kerch has a number of impressive architectural and historical monuments. Ancient historical heritage of the city makes it attractive for scientific tourism.

The most notable of Kerch’s sights are:

-Site of ancient settlement Pantikapaeum (5th century BC–3rd century AD).

-Tsarskiy Kurghan (4th century BC) — burial mound for one of Bosporian kings

-Church of St. John the Baptist (AD 717)

-Fortress of Yenikale (18th century)

-The Great Mithridates Staircase leading on top of the Mount Mithridat, contains 428 footsteps, built in 1833–1840 under the guidance of Italian architect A. Digbi

-Obelisk of Glory on the Mount Mithridat, built after World War II

-Memorial of heroic guerilla warfare in Adzhimushkay mines 

-Kerch Fortress, restricted area in soviet times, free to enter in present days. The fortress was built by the Russian military architect Totleben in the middle of 19th century.

-Sites of ancient settlements Mirmecium, Tiritaka and Nimphei. There are also some settlements gone underwater due to earthquakes.

-So called Demetra`s Crypt, a crypt with numerous frescos dated 1st century BC.

Festivals and Celebrations in Kerch

-Liberation Day (April 11th)

-Day of Fishermen (the second Sunday of July)

-Day of the City (the second Saturday of September)

The exhibits of the Kerch History and Archeology Museumtell the visitors about the history of Kerch which is one of the ancient cities in the world.




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