Yalta

Where the world was carved up at the end of World War II

We sailed overnight a short distance from one of the coldest of the Cold War sights, Sevastopol, to where the Cold War arguably began.

Yalta is a stunning seaside resort of the Black Sea, sweltering hot and enormously popular in the summer, including the days we visited. Surrounded by mountains and cliffs and gorgeous beaches, Yalta attracted the attention of the Czars and their families in the 19th century. Eventually, as the Czar’s regime was crumbling, Nicholas II, perhaps the most hapless ruler of all time, decided a new palace on the Crimean peninsula would be just the thing and in 1911 commissioned Livadia Palace, a masterpiece. The Czar and his family would be out of power in six years and dead soon after. They would visit here only four times, but had they come and stayed, likely they would have survived. The British hauled lots of noblemen out of here as the Bolsheviks took power, and the Romanovs were, after all, relatives of the British monarchs. It’s unlikely they would have been left stranded.

By the end of World War I Livadia was a sanatorium for peasants, but in the fall of 1944 as the western powers, Britain’s Winston Churchill, the U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin were looking for a place to make decisions regarding the post-war world, they decided to meet in Yalta at Livadia Palace. When the three powers met again a few months later (July) in Potsdam in the outskirts of Berlin the war against Germany had been won (in May); Roosevelt was dead, and Churchill had been voted out of office.

Today Yalta is not an easy place to get to, but that deters no one. Buses from Sevastopol run frequently and there are good roads. Yalta has no railroad connections or airport.

The guide program included a ride to Sparrows Nest, a touristy narrow spot on a highway above the ocean with a view of a castle that a German built in the 1910s. Much of the castle, after an earthquake, rumbled down into the ocean only to be rebuilt later as a restaurant. The author Anton Chekhov’s house is nearby and an easy reach on your own.

Photo: An entrance door, Livadia Palace. Photos will be regularly added to each post as time permits. Design element photos of many sites such as carpet, wallpaper, doors et cetera will also be processed and added sometime in late August and September.

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