1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sevastopol

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SEVASTOPOL, or Sebastopol, an important naval station of Russia on the Black Sea, on the S.W. coast of the Crimea, in 44° 37′ N. and 33° 31′ E., 956 m. from Moscow, with which it is connected by rail via Kharkov. Pop. (1882) 26,150; (1897) 50,710. The estuary, which is one of the best road steads in Europe and could accommodate the combined fleets of Europe, is a deep and thoroughly sheltered indentation among chalky cliffs, running east and west for nearly 4 m., with a width of three quarters of a mile, narrowing to 930 yds. at the entrance. It has a depth of 6 to 10 fathoms, with a good bottom, and large ships can anchor at a cable’s length from the shore. The main inlet has also four smaller indentations—Quarantine Bay at its entrance, Yuzhnaya (Southern) Bay, which penetrates more than 1 m. to the south, with a depth of 4 to 9 fathoms, Dockyard Bay and Artillery Bay. A small river, the Chornaya, enters the head of the inlet. The main part of the town, with an elevation of 30 to 190 ft., stands on the southern shore of the chief inlet, between Yuzhnaya and Artillery Bays. A few buildings on the other shore of the chief bay constitute the “northern side.” Before the Crimean War of 1853–56 Sevastopol was a well built city, beautified by gardens, and had 43,000 inhabitants; but at the end of the siege it had not more than fourteen buildings which had not been badly injured. After the war many privileges were granted by the government in order to attract population and trade; but both increased slowly, and at the end of seven years the population numbered only 5750.

The present town is well built and is becoming a favourite watering-place on account of its sea-bathing and numerous sanatoria. It has a zoological marine station (1897), a museum commemorative of the siege (1895), a cathedral of Classical design and another finished in 1888, monuments of Admirals Nakhimov (1898) and Kornilov (1895) and of General Todleben, and two navigation schools. In 1890 Sevastopol was made a third-class fortress, and the commercial port has been transferred to Theodosia.

The peninsula between the Bay of Sevastopol and the Black Sea was known in the 7th century as the Heracleotic Chersonese. In the 5th century B.C. a Greek colony was founded here and remained independent for three centuries, when it became part of the kingdom of the Bosporus, and subsequently tributary to Rome. Under the Byzantine empire Chersonesus was an administrative centre for its possessions in Taurida. Vladimir, prince of Kiev, conquered Chersonesus (Korsun) before being baptized there, and restored it to the Greeks on marrying (988) the princess Anna. Subsequently the Slavs were cut off from relations with Taurida by the Mongols, and only made occasional raids, such as that of the Lithuanian prince Olgierd. In the 16th century a new influx of colonists, the Tatars, occupied Chersonesus and founded a settlement named Akhtyar. This village, after the Russian conquest in 1783, was selected for the chief naval station of the empire in the Black Sea and received its present name (“the August City”). In 1826 strong fortifications were begun. In 1854 the allied English, French and Turkish forces laid siege to the southern portion of the town, and on the 17th of October began a heavy bombardment. Sevastopol sustained a memorable eleven months’ siege, and on the 8th of September 1855 was evacuated by the Russians. The fortifications were blown up by the allies, and by the Paris treaty, the Russians were bound not to restore them (see Crimean War). In November 1870, during the Franco-German War, the Russian government decided again to make Sevastopol a naval arsenal.