Copyright Виталий Тенякшев (Vitaliy Tenyakshev)
Feodosiya (also called Teodosiya) is a Crimean resort town on the Black Sea. It enjoys a Mediterranean-like climate due to its location, and even in February, the coldest month, temperatures are frequently above zero. Beach season lasts for about 114 days, from May till October.
Greek colonists from Miletos (a city near the modern village of Balat, Turkey), one of the richest and greatest cities of Ancient Greece, came to the area in the mid-sixth century BCE and called it Theodosia. The city grew quickly due to its prime location on trading routes, fertile land, and its perfect harbour, which could hold up to 100 ships. Greek merchants sold olive oil, jewelry, utensils, and wine, and bought bread, fish, skins, and wood. Life was wonderful in Theodosia.
Alas, the Bosporus Kingdom went to war against the city, and in 355 BCE, King Levkon I’s troops captured Theodosia. The environs became a constant battleground, and the city was renamed Kafa. More invaders came in the first few centuries of the Common Era—Huns, Sarmatians, Goths. Theodosia was sacked and destroyed by Huns in 370.
In the fifth century, the Alani tribe arrived and renamed the city Ardabda (Seven Gods), and in the seventh century, the Khazars and Byzantines took control. The scourge sweeping all of Eastern and Central Europe, the Mongol Horde, conquered the city in the 1230s.
Copyright Alim The Great
In 1266, the Republic of Genoa bought the ruined city from the Mongols and built a new fortress named Kaffa nearby. Kaffa soon became a thriving settlement, a near-monopoly of Black Sea trading, one of Europe’s biggest slave markets, the largest multinational Medieval city, and the biggest transit centre for international trade. The Great Silk Road may have passed through it as well. Kaffa was wealthy and expansive beyond belief.
Italians, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Tatars, and Crimean Karaites (not to be confused with Karaite Jews) lived in enclaves throughout Kaffa, each with their own churches, synagogues, and mosques. There were over 20,000 houses, 100 houses of worship, 100 fountains, a complex drainage well system, grottoes, pools, bazaars, taverns, workshops, and immense palaces and temples. The city grew so large, a second fortress wall had to be added.
Copyright Роман Днепр (Roman Dnepr)
In 1347, the Mongol army was stricken by bubonic plague while under siege at Kaffa, and used biological warfare by catapulting infected corpses over city walls. Kaffans fled to Italy, taking the disease with them. And thus the Black Plague entered Europe, helped along by stricken ships in several other Mongol-controlled Crimean ports and Asian traders.
After Kaffa recovered from the Black Death, domestic turmoil threatened the city. In the 15th century, at least four uprisings broke out due to ethnic, religious, and class tensions. Then, in the summer of 1475, Ottomans invaded, sank all ships, and burnt wooden buildings. Kaffa was completely destroyed once more and renamed Kefe.
Kefe became the Ottomans’ main Crimean stronghold and the sultan’s residence. The new rulers rebuilt the city, restored its former glory, and nicknamed it Kuchuk (Little)-Istanbal.
Mufti-Jami Mosque, Copyright Деревягін Ігор (Derevyain Ihor)
Many Ukrainians were taken prisoner by Ottomans and Tatars and sold in the slave market, including Anastasiya Gavrylivna Lisovska, one of the most famous women in Ukrainian history. She was renamed Roksolana and became the wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
Ukrainian Cossacks began to fight back against their people’s captivity in the early 17th century, and gained control of several Turkish cities. They soon destroyed the entire fleet at Kefe and freed thousands of slaves.
The city passed back into foreign hands in 1771 during the Russo–Turkish War of 1768–74. Kefe was annexed to the Russian Empire in 1783, and Catherine the Great restored its original name, Feodosiya (the Russified spelling), in 1787.
Church of St. Catherine, Copyright Sergey Ashmarin
Church of St. Catherine, Copyright Алексей Задонский (Aleksey Zadonskiy)
Feodosiya’s population shrank as many inhabitants left the area. Crimea itself became practically empty after mass Muslim immigration to the Ottoman Empire. By the end of the 18th century, only 325 people remained.
In 1798, Tsar Pavel granted duty-free trade to the port, hoping to encourage resettlement. Foreigners were guaranteed free land on condition they built houses, planted gardens, or established institutions in selected areas within five years. The plan worked, and Germans flocked to the city, establishing the Forstadt district.
The first Crimean museum, the Feodosiya Museum of Antiquities, opened in 1811.
Nasypne Church, Copyright Jbuket
Armenian Surb Sarkis Church, Copyright Деревягін Ігор (Derevyain Ihor)
The city’s growth accelerated with the arrival of a railway station in 1892 and a new seaport in 1895. By 1904, there were 30,600 residents, up from 3,700 in 1829. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many magnificent mansions were built.
During the Russian Civil War, thousands of people fled to Crimea to escape the Bolsheviks. Feodosiya sheltered many intellectuals, writers, artists, musicians, composers, and poets, and served as one of the main ports of White immigration in autumn 1920.
Dacha Stamboli, Copyright Алексей Задонский (Aleksey Zadonskiy)
Dacha Milos, Copyright Алексей Задонский (Aleksey Zadonskiy)
Under Bolshevik rule, Feodosiya declined again, and during WWII, it changed hands four times. Almost the entire Jewish population of 3,248 was murdered by Nazi firing squad in the last two months of 1941. The Nazis also destroyed the railway station, seaport, hospitals, cinemas, schools, museums, and many houses and buildings.
Stalin gave Feodosiya 19,352,000 rubles to rebuild, and thousands of people brought their beloved city back from the rubble to its former beauty.
Kino Krym (Crimean Movie Theatre), Copyright :ru:User:Russianname
White Basic Watertower, Copyright Derevyagin Ihor
Today Feodosiya is a thriving resort town of 69,000, with many beaches, mineral springs, mud baths, hotels, rest homes, sanatoria, cafés, and restaurants. Though most Crimean beaches are lined with pebbles, Feodosiya’s 15-kilometer Golden Beach is made of little seashells.
The city is also home to many monuments, museums, historic churches, schools, dachas, and parks. Another highlight is the art gallery established by native son Ivan Konstantinovich Ayvazovskiy, a prolific painter of Armenian origin.
Ayvazovskiy Gallery, Copyright Kiyanka
Golden Beach, Copyright Yellowhummer