Balaklava : A City of Secrets

The city of Balaklava is located in Crimea, Ukraine, and was once a small fishing village, near Sevastopol. It went from being a quaint inconspicuous village, to an ideal tactical location during the war and the Soviet period, to an independent city, that officially became part of the Sevastopol district in 1957. The quiet bay with its treacherous rocks are not the only attractions in Balaklava, as it is what is hidden under the rocks that makes visiting Balaklava a very fascinating and historically interesting destination.


Balaklava was established by the Ancient Greeks, under the name of Symbolon. They founded it as a commercial city and throughout its existence it became a popular city to conquer. It was ruled by a vast variety of countries and empires including the Genoese, the Ottoman Empire, Crimean Tartars and the Russians. The city also became famous for the legendary Battle of Balaklava, and it is during this time, that soldiers first wore knitted items that covered their head and necks, which had holes for their mouths and eyes, that became the well known garment, the balaclava.

Some of the attractions in Balaklava include a variety of monuments that stand as reminders to the wars that were fought here, including some of the more important wars that were fought, such as the Russian Civil War and the Great Patriotic War. At the entrance of the Balaklava inlet, visitors will find the magnificent ruins of the Genoese fortress that is not only popular with tourists, but is also the location of the Medieval Festival that takes place here. The underground submarine base that brings visitors from all over the world to the city.

Balaklava fell under a blanket of mystery and covert operations in 1957, to such an extent, that the Soviet command ensured that it was removed from maps. The KGB blocked all access to the town and everyone that came and went, had to report to the military. As a submarine would head towards the rocky face of the bay and then silently disappear underneath the water, it took many local residents months to figure out that there was an underground submarine base in Balaklava. The base would remain operational until 1993, and the last Russian submarine departed from Balaklava not long after, the guards left and the facility left open to thieves and plundering. Fortunately, before the facility could be completely destroyed, the military decided to create a museum with the base and took over the maintenance of the facility. Today, visitors can enjoy guided tours of this once secret and restricted area of the Soviet army.

Balaklava is a destination in Ukraine filled with military history and remnants of battles for survival. Its monuments and attractions each tell their own tale, and is a city worth exploring while in the country.