City and geographical review
There are some ancient cities and towns in Crimea, but Kerch is the oldest one among them. There are not so many cities like Kerch, which combine such a long history, originality of the landscape and the richness of architecture.
Antiquity coexists with contemporaneity like remains of cities of Mirmekiya and Tiritaki and factory buildings. Ruins of ancient cities soften urbanisms of modern districts. Kerch is an industrial city, the most powerful marine port in Crimea, equipped with modern equipment. Kerch is developing as a resort as well. You could find lots of summer camps, hotels and summerhouses on the shore of Azov Sea and the channel, where wonderful sandy beaches are stretched out for over tens kilometers. But the real developing of this resort area is still ahead.
Kerch is the most important harbor of the Kerch Strait (formerly known as the Cimmerian Bosporus). It connects the Black Sea and the Azov Sea, separating the Kerch Peninsula in the west from the Taman Peninsula in the east. The Russian side of the Strait contains the Taman Bay encircled by the Tuzla Spit to the south and Chushka Spit to the north. Tuzla Island is famous because of the territorial dispute over the ownership of it between Ukraine and Russia in October 2003.
The swimming season opens starting from the last decade of May till the first decade of October. The average temperature in summer is +24C, in winter -1C.
The mud of the Chokrak lake and Bulkhanakskiye Hills located nearby Kerch is notable for its curative properties.
A little bit of the history
After the Hun’s invasion in 370th, which completed the death of ancient civilization, the old center of Kerch peninsula - Pantikaupeum entered the new phase of its history - dark ages. Small town on the cape, surrounded by the wall in the 6th century, started to be called Bosporus. In 10 - 12th centuries, after the entering Tmutarakan’ principality, it’s got the name Korchev and became Russian. In the 10th century the Church of Ioanna Predtechi was founded, construction of which has been finished in the 13th century.
This is the only Byzantine Church of the Northern Prichernomor'ya, which survived by miracle during all historical peripeteias.
In 13-14th centuries the Church of Ioanna Predtechi was turned into a mosque. The Genoese merchants, settled in Korchev in the 13th century, called by them Cherkio, and also Vospro, built their fortress on the cape near an ancient breakwater. In 1299 Cherkio was invaded by Nogaysk Tatars, who started to develop it later, neighboring Genoese. The manuscripts of medieval eastern authors preserved the name of the city of that time - Karz, al'-Karsh or Kard.
Starting from the end of the 15th century Turks gained a foothold in the city, and for the few centuries it had got an eastern look. Turks turned the Genoese fortress into the citadel of their bigger fortress.
Citizens of Turkish Kerch lived on fishing, wine-growing, gardening and trade with Caucasus and Turkey. News about the Russian squadron, appeared in the bay, caused a panic horror in Kerch. All Turks and some Tatars left in a hurry on military and trade ships to Turkey, devastating the city. Most part of Tatars went to Cafe. Only a few Greeks, Armenians and Georgians met Russians. In 1821 the port was opened for the trade with the people of Caucasus. They were going to make Kerch a province center, therefore it’s got the general plan of reconstruction, developed by the Odessa architecture Sharl Fransua, whose teaches was Sharl Persie – one of the leading French architectures.
Mitridat Mountain had to be a dominant element of the city’s plan.
During the Crimean War Kerch badly suffered from fires and destruction. The English squadron entered the Kerch Strait on May 12th, 1855; landing in Kamysh-Burun, England occupied Kerch. They left Kerch in June 10th, 1856. During the second part of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th the monumental buildings, which formed the center of Kerch have been built.
The city has been developing slowly, in spite of the fact that the bed of ironstone has been discovered in early 80s of the 18th century. There have been only about 250 habitants at the beginning of 19th century. Kerch began to develop only at the beginning of the present century.
In 1908 the Kerch Strait has been deepened, the marine channel has been dug in it, and big ships began to come to the Azov Sea. Kerch port came alive.
Kerch was famous by its fishing. Only famous in the past Kerch herring, as reported in a book, published in 1914, were taken out of the Strait in the amount of 5 million annually!
The population of Kerch was 104,5 thousand in 1939.
World War II left a lot of devastation and graves on Kerch peninsula. The city has been ruined during severe fights. Only obelisks on the brotherly graves remind about cruel fights for Kerch. You could see lots of them especially along the seaside of the Kerch Strait.
In 1973 Kerch was awarded the title of the "Hero City" of the Soviet Union.
During post-war years all the efforts were directed to recover the national economy, and at the same time not so much attention were paid to the resort construction.
Kerch is located at the intersection of trade roads between Asia and Europe. It is a city of metallurgists, fishermen and shipbuilders. The biggest enterprises in the city are: Kerch Metallurgical Works Factory (1900), Kamysh-Burun Iron Ore Plant and shipbuilding factory "Zaliv" ("Gulf"), which produces supertankers and warships. The city's main exports are grain, fish and wine-making.
Construction-materials, food processing, and light industries play a significant role in the city's economy. Kerch is also a fishing fleet base and an important processing center for numerous fish products.
Kerch has a small airport, a railroad terminal and a harbor on the Kerch Strait. Ferry transportation across the Kerch Strait started in 1953, connecting Crimea and the Krasnodar Krai (Russia) (Port Krym - Port Kavkaz). There are several ports in Kerch, including Kerch Maritime Trading Port,Kerch Maritime Fishing Port, Port Crimea (Port Krym - ferry crossing), Kamysh-Burun Port. Bus network connects Kerch to other cities in Crimea and Krasnodar Krai.
Kerch Marine Trade port was established in 1821. Today it is a state enterprise, controlled by Ministry of Transport of Ukraine. Port is situated in Kerch bay in the west cost of Kerch Strait. Non-freezing water area of port is opened for ship call all year long. There are cargo and passenger ternminals at the port.
Railway connects Kerch with agricultural regions of Ukraine and Russia. Kerch-Dzhankoy highway connects port with international motorway E-95.
Ferry is arranged between the prts "Crimea" and "Caucasus". It will bring you and your car to Russia, after you pass the customs. Ferry goes every 1,5 hours.