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Simferopol: Gateway to the Crimea

Published: October 2, 2013 (Issue # 1780)



  • As the former capital of the Crimean Khanate and a mecca of Crimean Tatar culture, the town of Bakhchisarai also contains the only remaining palace of the Crimean Khans open for tourists to explore.
    Photo: Tiia Monto / Wikimedia Commons

  • In a bid to attract more tourists, the city has recently invested $1.7 million in transforming the centre into a modern hub.
    Photo: Investigatio / Wikimedia Commons

  • Do as the locals do and spend an afternoon strolling through the downtown parks, enjoying Simferopol’s slower pace of life.  
    Photo: Boris Mavlytov / Wikimedia Commons

Simferopol, Ukraine — It’s no irony that Simferopol’s name comes from the Greek Simferopolis, meaning “city of usefulness.”

Each year about 7 million tourists pass through its railway station, and the city has earned a reputation as a stopover for vacationers waiting for their connection to the ports of Sevastopol or Yalta.

As a result, the city is one of the few places on the stunning peninsula that does not enjoy the status of a tourism hot spot.

But a new campaign by Simferopol City Hall aims to change the city’s reputation and take advantage of the financial possibilities created by the tourist traffic.

Simferopol is home to the main university and ministry buildings in the Crimean republic. But locals, despite taking pride in its role as an administrative and educational center, have not forgotten the city’s fascinating history.

It was here that the first signs of human habitation in the Crimea were found, dating back about 40,000 years. The discovery was made in 1927 by archeologists excavating the Chokurcha cave east of the city.

On the outskirts of Simferopol lie the remains of the ancient city of Scythian Neapolis, which functioned as the center of the Crimean Scythian tribes from the 3rd century BC and resisted repeated raids from the Sarmatians and Huns until its near-total destruction at the hands of the Goths six centuries later.

During the period of the Crimean Khanate in the 15th century, the Crimean Tatars founded the city of Ak-Mechet (White Mosque) on the site of modern-day Simferopol, and the city became the state’s second main center after neighboring Bakhchisarai.

Following the Crimea’s annexation by the Russian Empire in 1784, Catherine the Great designated the newly established city of Simferopol as the regional center. It eventually became the capital of the Taurida Governorate, which was created 20 years later.

Economic development accelerated in the second half of the 19th century when the Simferopol-Kharkov railway line was constructed and major factories were built.

With the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917,the Crimean Tatars seized an opportunity to re-assert their national identity and established the Crimean People’s Republic, the world’s first Muslim democratic state. It collapsed only a month after its proclamation when advancing Bolshevik forces captured Simferopol and imprisoned its president.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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