Genoese fortress

Genoese monuments of Crimea in the world context


Genoese fortressThe ancient inhabitants of the Crimea, defending themselves from various uninvited guests, in their construction of the fortress widely used military engineering experience gained by the Hittites in Asia Minor, ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as Armenians, Byzantines, Crusaders, Genoese. Therefore, all that has survived from the numerous fortifications of the Crimea, acquires the significance of a real museum of world open-air fortifications.

These fortifications have long ensured the functioning of the transcontinental transport and trade network. From the thirteenth century, Sudak, Chembalo, and present-day Feodosia, then called Kafa, were overseas colonies of the rich and influential Italian city-state of Genoa. The Genoese built fortresses here and held military garrisons. Their consuls here ruled and controlled all international trade. In fact, for this reason the Italians lived here, far from their native penates.

Once the city of Genoa took a bank loan and could not (or did not want to) repay it. It is common – this happens with modern cities and even entire countries. However, the lender turned out to be unusual: the bank of St. George was a solid international bank that lent to crowned persons. So he demanded compensation. On May 22, 1453, in Kafa, the Council of Senators of Genoa handed over Kafa, other cities, all estates, castles and the whole district as a “non-refundable gift” to the bank of St. George. But ironically, this respected institution did not have time to take advantage of its valuable acquisition. Exactly one week after the conclusion of this agreement, Constantinople fell under the blows of the Ottoman Turks. The Black Sea became Turkish. Kafa’s connection with the metropolis and the rest of Europe was gradually severed. It was only a matter of time later.And when a Turkish landing party landed on the coast of Kafa 22 years later, it met almost no resistance. Thus, the Bank of St. George acquired and almost immediately lost a wonderful city, later nicknamed in the East for its splendor “Kuchuk Istanbul”, ie small Istanbul.

Since then, part of the walls and towers of the city fortress, as well as the citadel have been preserved in Feodosia. They rise in the old part of the city above the sea. Founded in 1266, when the Genoese obtained from the governor of the Golden Horde the transfer to their possession of Kafa (then a small Greco-Alanian village) and established their trading post here. It quickly turned into a large city, which was first surrounded by a moat and an earthen rampart, and then by wooden walls. In the XIV century. in Kafi begin to build high stone walls with towers, completed in 1386. They consisted of two lines of defense: the outer line, which surrounded the entire city, and the inner citadel, and the outer line of defense with 26 round and rectangular towers surrounded the city from land and sea.In front of the land part there was a deep moat lined with stone with stone arched bridges over it, leading to the four gates of the city. The main one was located at the northwestern end of the defensive line near the tower of Constantine.

During the XIX century. the fortress, which had lost its military significance, was gradually destroyed. So far, only three towers have survived, the base of the corner tower with a bastion, small fragments of walls and a moat. One of the surviving towers – the Tower of Constantine, built in 1382-1448, stands on the beach and is a symbol of Theodosia.

The most famous and best advertised fortification monument of the Genoese in the Crimea is the Sudak Fortress. This is a huge complex on a cone-shaped fortress hill 150 m high, which from the south side rushes to the sea. The fortress, and in fact a medieval city, covers an area of ​​29.5 hectares. From the east and south the hill is completely inaccessible, from the west – inaccessible and is vulnerable to attack only from the north.

The fortress of Sugdei (Greek name Sudak) existed as early as 212, but nothing remains of it. In the VI century. the Byzantines built a seaside fortification on the seashore, now partially submerged by the sea. In the VIII century. Sudak became the center of Khazar possessions in the Crimea. Then new brick fortifications of the Lower City were built. From the tenth century. construction of the Upper Town begins, which receives fortifications. Sudak withstood the attacks of the Seljuk Turks in 1222, the Tatars – in 1223 and 1239. In the 1260s, Sudak became part of the possessions of the Golden Horde and became the ulus of Khan Berke – the grandson of Genghis Khan. In 1298-1299 Sudak was destroyed by the horde of Khan Nogai. In 1365, the Genoese, who called him Soldaia (the ancient Russians called him Surozh), established themselves in Sudak.

The Genoese began construction of a new fortress using the old Byzantine fortifications on the northern slope of the hill in 1371 and completed it in 1409, but some work lasted until 1469. All buildings and structures were built of local stone (gray limestone, sandstone and shell rock). lime mortar with the addition of broken bricks and pottery shards. Although the fortifications were built mainly by local masons, they were built according to the canons of fortification art of medieval Western Europe in the XIV-XV centuries. The fortifications are designed for defensive and offensive means at a time when firearms were just emerging.

In 1475 Sudak was captured by the Turks and placed in a fortress in the fortress. After the conquest of Crimea by the Russian Empire in 1783, the Kirillov Regiment was stationed in the fortress, for the needs of which the ancient brick buildings began to be dismantled. However, most of the fortifications are well preserved to this day and have not undergone significant reconstruction (except for not all successful restoration work of the 2nd half of the twentieth century).

The most interesting individual buildings of the Genoese fortress are:
– The Watchtower, which stands on top of the Fortress Hill and was intended to observe the approaches to the fortress from the sea and land.
– The round tower, located on the northeastern part of the lower tier of the fortress fortifications – the only tower here is a semicircular, or rather irregular oval shape in plan. Some researchers attribute it to the Dogenuez period. Open tower. The lower tier has been completely preserved, and only the base from the upper tier.
– The consular tower is located above the cliff on the sea side in the eastern part of the fortress. This tower was a dungeon, ie the main part of the Consular Castle, which is part of the citadel – the upper tier of the fortress. The consular castle is the most interesting of the complexes of buildings preserved in the fortress. The main, most powerful Consular Tower occupies the entire transverse space of the castle to the cliff above the sea. The second mighty Corner Tower stands in the northeast corner of the castle. Both towers are connected by walls, creating a courtyard, which was entered through a special vestibule with loopholes, which protected the door from shelling.

Several monuments of other (non-defensive) purpose, but directly related to the functioning of fortifications, have been preserved on the territory of the Sudak Fortress. The ancient temple is located on a hillside below the Watchtower. Archaeological research has established that it was built not earlier than the twelfth century, later rebuilt. This is a hall-type building with two apses on the east side (such a solution is very rare in sacred architecture). Masonry of sandstone, the northern apse below is supported by three stone profiled consoles in the form of brackets, so it is sometimes called the “temple on consoles”.

The mosque was built in 1222. Some researchers believe that it was built in 1423 by the Genoese as a hall for consular receptions. The building was repeatedly rebuilt, so that very little of the original volume has survived. Bath, mihrab, pillars with carved capitals belong to the beginning of the XIV century, and the portal – to the XVI century. The interior is partially preserved ancient frescoes.

In the eastern part of the fortress near the mosque there is an underground structure of the XIV century. Its purpose has not been established: some consider it a tank for collecting and storing water, others – a prison. The building is round in plan, had a domed vault. It has a narrow stepped course.

Much more modest and lesser known is the Genoese fortress of Chembalo in Balaklava (a city within Sevastopol). Balaklava harbor has been known since ancient times. In the early Middle Ages, the Greeks called this place Simbolon Limne – Harbor of Prophecy. From the Greek “Simbolon” comes the Italian name of the local fortress Chembalo. It is located on a steep rocky seashore, high above the modern city and harbor.

In the middle of the XIV century. Genoese, securing their dominance in the eastern part of the Crimean coast by the fortress of Kafa (Feodosia), tried to subdue the western part of the peninsula, capturing the old Greek fishing village, located in a narrow and very convenient harbor Simbolon. That village belonged to the principality of Theodore. The Genoese established a trade factory here, and in 1357-1433 a fortress was built over the narrow entrance to the harbor on the cape, which breaks off from the south to the sea by a cliff 200 meters high, which was named Chembalo.
The Chembalo fortress was of special importance to the Genoese as their extreme western outpost in the Crimea. It was intended to fight the Greek feudal principality of Theodore, which intensified in the 2nd half. XIV century. In 1475, after the fall of Kafa and other Genoese cities, the fortress of Chembalo passed into the possession of the Ottoman Empire, lost its strategic importance and gradually turned into ruins.

Chembalo Fortress consisted of two fortified cities: the lower – St. George and the upper – St. Nicholas. The lower town was surrounded by a fortress wall that ran along the harbor and then climbed the mountain slope to the upper town. This wall had two rectangular towers with narrow loopholes.

The upper town occupied a rocky platform at the top of the cape above the cliff to the sea. It was separated from the lower city by a fortress wall. This part of the fortress was a citadel. The walls with towers defended the citadel from the north and west sides available for attack. Here was the consular castle, the main part of which was a large round two-story Consular Tower. In the basement of the tower there was a water tank, which was fed through a pottery pipeline from a nearby mountain.

Now the fortress is quadrangular in plan. There were no defensive walls on the sea side, and on the other three sides it was surrounded by walls 1.5 m thick, with eight towers. The best wall and four round towers are preserved on the northeast side of the fortress. On the north-western side, only the foundations of the walls survived, on the other hand, only fragments of the walls.

All three fortification complexes – in Feodosia, Sudak and Balaklava – are recognized by Ukraine as monuments of architecture and urban planning of national importance, so their uniqueness and unique historical and cultural value are not the subject of discussion. The ruins of the Chembalo fortress in Balaklava are subordinated to the Chersonesos Tavriya National Reserve. The Genoese fortress in Sudak had the status of the State Architectural and Historical Reserve as part of the Sophia of Kyiv National Reserve.

In May-June 2011, the project “Identification of ways to promote the preservation and development of cultural heritage of Crimea” was implemented in Ukraine. The aim of the project was to study the situation in the field of protection of cultural heritage of Crimea and assess the possibilities of international recognition of this unique heritage to ensure its protection and preservation. Among the objects studied in the project were fortresses in Sudak, Balaklava and Feodosia. As a result, it is proposed to include them in the serial transnational nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List “Trade posts and fortifications on the Genoese trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.”

This nomination was included in the Preliminary World Heritage List in 2010 according to criteria (ii) and (iv), ie it demonstrates the important exchange of human values ​​over a period of time within a cultural region in the field of architecture and landscape planning, is an architectural ensemble, which illustrates significant periods in European history. In addition, in 2007 the Preliminary List of World Heritage Sites from Ukraine included the “Complex of Monuments of the Sudak Fortress of the VI-XVI centuries.” according to criteria (ii), (iv) and (v).

But the inclusion in the Preliminary World Heritage List is only a proposal, ie the initial stage of work. In order for a monument (group of monuments) to be included in the internationally approved UNESCO World Heritage List, it is necessary to perform a huge amount of extremely complex work. It is better to do such things in large transnational teams – then there is a greater probability of a positive result. That is why in the last decade serial cross-border nominations, which are prepared jointly by several countries, have become so popular. Therefore, with regard to Genoese monuments in the Crimea in 2011, it was proposed to consider them as the most important component of the serial cross-border nomination, which should previously contain the following Genoese fortresses in the Mediterranean and Black Sea countries:

Sudak (AR Crimea)
Harpsichord in Balaklava (Sevastopol)
Feodosia (Crimea)

Russian Federation:
Tana (Azov)
Galata Tower (Pera (Galata), Istanbul)

Italy (Sardinia island):
Fortress in Barumina Nurag Fortress Cresia
France (island of Corsica):
Fortress in Calvi
Fortress in Bonifacio

Fortress in Tabark

Since 2011, this nomination has been developed jointly by Ukraine and Italy. It was planned to involve several more Mediterranean countries, such as France, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey, and (possibly) Russia. On September 14, 2012 in Genoa (Italy) a meeting of the Ukrainian delegation with the leadership of the city hall and the local university took place. The Ukrainian delegation got acquainted in detail with the monuments of Genoa’s cultural heritage and the system of their protection and use for the development of the tourism business. As you know, in Italy, the museum business, monument protection and tourism are at a high level and are exemplary worldwide, providing a significant share of national income and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. This experience is very necessary for Ukraine.Therefore, the subject of interested discussion was the work on the inclusion of our monuments in the joint nomination to the World Heritage List.

In 2012, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine together with the Feodosia City Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea held an international conference in Feodosia, which was called: “Fortified settlements on the Genoese trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.” Francesco Bandarin, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO and Chairman of the World Heritage Committee, was the guest of honor and an active participant. During the conference, representatives of Turkey expressed readiness to join the team of authors of the future nomination dossier. In addition to Italy and Ukraine, Greece has also expressed its readiness to take part in the preparation of the dossier. At that stage, from Turkey to the draft joint nomination dossier it was planned to include the fortress of Yoros and Galata Tower (Istanbul), the fortresses of Foca and Chandarli (Izmir), the fortress of Amasra (Bartin), the fortresses of Akçakoja and Sinop (Düzce). .These monuments on April 15, 2013 were included in the Preliminary list. As you can see, now the list of nominated objects covers the sights of three continents: Europe, Asia, Africa.

As for the Russian part of the probable joint nomination, on the territory of the Genoese fortress Tana (Azov) of the XIII century. (Russian Federation) no architectural monuments have been preserved (only archeological remains are available), so there is no reason to involve this country in cooperation. Instead, the Genoese monuments of Crimea are one of the few evidences of Western European fortification art of the late Middle Ages in the south of Ukraine and can be considered one of the unique objects of cultural heritage, which testify to the close relationship of different cultures. The objects that are proposed to be included in the transnational nomination from Ukraine have a high level of authenticity, ie they have largely retained their shape and logistical structure.

The architectural ensembles of these fortresses are an exceptional example of human interaction with the natural landscape in the field of fortification art and the development of cities and seaports, which demonstrate the skillful use of landscape features to create strategically important defensive centers at dominant heights. . In general, in the Mediterranean region, fortresses located in the former Genoese colonies are considered one of the unique cultural heritage sites, which indicates the close relationship of different cultures in the region, where the Genoese maintained relations with Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire and others. states.

All this very promising work was brutally stopped in the spring of 2014 due to the occupation and annexation of Crimea by Russia. So now neither the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine nor Ukrainian experts have even reliably verified information about the condition of monuments that were in the temporarily occupied territory, let alone any promising developments. Does this mean the collapse of the idea of ​​a serial cross-border nomination “Fortified settlements on the Genoese trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea”? – Not at all! It is worth mentioning one of the postulates of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee: interstate disputes over the affiliation of a territory are not an obstacle to the inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List of sites located in such disputed or occupied (annexed) territories.In view of this, the relevant state bodies of Ukraine should revive this topic in cooperation with the above-mentioned countries, take an active part in the preparation of the nomination dossier and bring the case to the inclusion of all these monuments in the List. At the same time, it is necessary to add an integral part of this nomination – Genoese monuments in Feodosia, Sudak and Balaklava to the List of World Heritage Sites under threat. This will allow regular international monitoring of these monuments and may somewhat deter the occupier from his destructive actions. At least Ukraine must do everything possible for this.At the same time, it is necessary to add an integral part of this nomination – Genoese monuments in Feodosia, Sudak and Balaklava to the List of World Heritage Sites under threat. This will allow regular international monitoring of these monuments and may somewhat deter the occupier from his destructive actions. At least Ukraine must do everything possible for this.At the same time, it is necessary to add an integral part of this nomination – Genoese monuments in Feodosia, Sudak and Balaklava to the List of World Heritage Sites under threat. This will allow regular international monitoring of these monuments and may somewhat deter the occupier from his destructive actions. At least Ukraine must do everything possible for this.

The project was implemented with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation

Victor Vechersky

Candidate of Architecture, Honored Worker of Culture of Ukraine, Associate Professor of Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts

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