Yalta is a city in Crimea, southern Ukraine, on the north coast of the Black Sea. The city is located on the site of an ancient Greek colony, said to have been founded by Greek sailors who were looking for a safe shore on which to land. It is situated on a deep bay facing south towards the Black Sea, surrounded by wooded mountains. It enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate with many vineyards and orchards in the vicinity. The term “The Greater Yalta” is used to designate a part of the Crimean southern coast spanning from Foros in the west to Gurzuf in the east and including the city of Yalta and multiple adjacent urban settlements.
The existence of Yalta was first recorded in the 12th century by an Arab geographer, who described it as a Byzantine port and fishing settlement. It became part of a network of Genoese trading colonies on the Crimean coast in the 14th century. Since 1475 the southern coast with Yalta was under direct ottoman rule forming the Eyalet of Kefe (Feodosiya). Yalta was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1783.
In the 19th century, the town became a fashionable resort for the Russian aristocracy and gentry. Leo Tolstoy spent summers there and Anton Chekhov in 1898 bought a house (the White Dacha) here, where he lived till 1902; Yalta is the setting for Chekhov’s short story, The Lady with the Dog, and such prominent plays as The Three Sisters were written in Yalta. The town was also closely associated with royalty. In 1889 Tsar Alexander III finished construction of Massandra Palace a short distance to the north of Yalta and Nicholas II built the Livadia Palace south-west of the town in 1911.
During the 20th century Yalta was the principal holiday resort of the Soviet Union. The town came to worldwide attention in 1945 when the Yalta Conference between the “Big Three” powers – the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Kingdom – was held at the Livadia Palace.
Yalta has a beautiful embankment along the Black Sea. People can be seen strolling there all seasons of the year, and it also serves as a place to gather and talk, to see and be seen. There are several beaches to the left and right of the embankment. The town has a movie theater, drama theater, plenty of restaurants, and an open-air market.
Famous attractions within or near Yalta are: Yalta’s Sea Promenade (Naberezhnaya), Armenian Church, built by V. Surenyants, Roman Catholic Church built by N. Krasnov, a famous Russian architect, Yalta’s cable car, taking visitors to the Darsan hill, from which one can see Yalta’s shoreline, Renovated Hotel Taurica, the first hotel in the former Russian Empire with elevators, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, constructed by the architect Krasnov, who also constructed the Livadia Palace and the architect P. Terebenyov, Former main building of the Ministry of Defence hotel, built in the style of a Gothic castle, Palace of Bukhara Emir, Yalta’s Zoo, Yalta’s Aquarium, housing small dolphins, Park-museum Polyana Skazok (Glade of Fairytales), House-museum of Anton Chekhov, House-museum of Lesya Ukrainka etc.
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