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CYCLE vacation in Crimea.
ARTICLE: "Swallow's Nest"

The Swallow’s Nest is rightfully considered to be the landmark of Yalta and the symbol of the whole Crimean peninsula. This peculiar building is located on the 40-meter height of Avrorina Cliff, on the central cliff of Cape Ai-Todor.

The Swallow’s Nest is a small castle majestically overlooking waves of the Black Sea which justifies its romantic name. In order to see the beauty of the place and greatness of the castle, you need to get to the village of Gaspra, located not far from Yalta.

Being more than 200, the “Swallow’s Nest” castle has its own rather interesting history. How many possessors has this castle had!? They were a Russian General, an archiater, a Moscow tradeswoman, an oil industrial, a baron, and Moscow restaurant-keeper!? Each possessor of the house (as at that time the «Swallow’s Nest» was just a house) added something new to its architecture, adjusted it according to his preferences. Several times the «Swallow’s Nest» was reconstructed, projected, tore down and rebuilt.
The first owner of this house was a retired Russian general. As early as in 1877-1878 a wooden house was built here on the general’s order. Memories about this house are kept in works of such great marine painters as Laghorio, Aivazovsky and Bogolyubov.
Later on this wonderful summer house came into possession of an archiater A.K.Tobin, and after his death the house was bought by a Moscow tradeswoman, widow Rakhmanina. The mistress ordered to tear down the old building and erect a new wooden palace on its place, which she named the «Swallow’s Nest».
The appearance we see the «Swallow’s Nest» today this castle obtained due to a German Baron von Steingel. Baron von Steingel was an oil industrial, so his occupation caused his often visiting Crimea. He decided to turn an ordinary summer house into a real castle, let it be small in size. Project of the castle was prepared by a famous architect and a sculptor Leonid Sherwood, the son of Vladimir Sherwood, who is the author of the Historical museum on Red square in Moscow. In 1912 a building in the style of Medieval castles built on the bank of the river Rein, appeared on a small area near the sea. As far as this area for the building construction was really small, the architect decided to save some place and made this construction terraced. The castle turned out to be of bird’s size: the width of building foundation is 10 meters, and the length is 20 meters, the house is 12 meters high. There are several rooms in the castle: an entrance-hall, a staircase, two bedrooms and a living room.
The architect succeeded to make this gothic building not boring but give to it lightness and romance. The thing that adds most showiness and uniqueness to the castle is not the architect’s works but the place, where it was constructed. If you move the building to any other place differing from this one, the house will be lost among the multitude of resembling buildings.
Two year later, in 1914, the castle changed its possessor once more. This time it was a Moscow restaurant-keeper and a merchant Shalaputin. He opened a restaurant in this building. After the possessor’s death, the restaurant stopped working and a reading hall of a local resort was organized here.
In 1927 historical monument the «Swallow’s Nest» survived a strong earthquake rated to 9 on the Richter scale. A beautiful garden which used to be near the castle went down to the sea bottom during the earthquake. The castle itself remained safe, apart from several torn out spires, but the cliff cracked from its top to the middle which threatened to pull the «Swallow’s Nest» into the sea at any moment. The castle was in an emergency state and as a safety precaution it was closed for reconstruction for some period of time.
Only 40 later the castle was reborn. The reconstructed architectural monument of Crimean coastline opened its doors for visitors. Under distinct guidelines of an architect Tatiev, reconstruction works were performed: front of the building and interior were changes, the foundation was enforced with reinforced concrete structures, aseismic works were carried out, the tower was decorated with four spires.

Additional popularity was given to the castle «Swallow’s Nest» due to such famous movies as «The Amphibian Man» directed by Gennady Kazansky and Vladimir Chebotaryev (exactly under the cliff, where the castle is located, was the «sea devil’s home» of Ichtiandr, «Ten Negro Boys» by Stanislav Govorukhin, «Mister Blot’s Academy» by . Gradovsky, «Mio, my Mio» by V.Grammatikov.
In 2011, cliff-diving contest was held on Avrorina Cliff which included diving from the cliff. It is a very risky, extreme and at the same time dazzling sport, as not everyone can take courage in both hands and jump off the «Swallow’s Nest» into the sea. The smallest mistake while jumping and diving can cause a tragedy.

The «Swallow’s Nest» is comfortably located in Ai-Todor Bay, which is closed by the “Captain’s Bridge” from the East. This is the viewing point where you can see fascinating panorama of the Crimean coastline like from the bridge of a captain’s liner. Large kingdom of sea and stone opens its doors in front of the person standing here.
For many years Swallow’s Nest fascinates visitors with its fragile beauty. This tiny architectural masterpiece, located on the edge of the abyss, challenges the nature and truly resembles a swallow’s nest by appearance.

You can write much more about the «Swallow’s Nest», you can tell stories and legends connected with this unique place, but as a classic said «A picture is worth a thousand words!»

By Marina Melnichenko

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