Perched on the edge of the city of Sevastopol is the small harbor town of Balaklava. This quaint sleepy town has an interesting history and well worth a visit if you are in the Crimea.
The town is overlooked by the remains of a Genoese fortress and gives you a flavour of the history of this well protected bay on the Black Sea. The Genoese used the port as a staging place for their lucrative trade in slaves and goods, up until the Ottoman Empire took control of it in 1475. In the 1850s the harbor was filled with British troops and ships during the Crimean Wars, and noted in history for the ill fated "Charge of the Light Brigade" which took place 4 km outside the town.
There are over 50 monuments in the town dedicated to the exploits of soldiers during the Crimean War, Great Patriotic War Second World War and the Russian Civil War.
In 1956 Balaklava passed from Soviet control to Ukrainian, but the Soviets built a submarine base into one of the hillsides, and turned the town into one of the most secret of locations during the Cold War era. In 1991 the base was closed and the last submarine left in 1996.
There is now a small museum housed in the old ammunition room of the submarine base, with plans to build a larger museum and exhibit a submarine. Entry is 20UAH, but may only be possible with a Russian-language guided tour; there are a lot of explanatory signs, but all in Russian and Ukrainian only. Maybe someone will write an English-language guide.
Balaklava is just waking up to its tourist potential and new hotels and restaurants are opening up. Balaklava is a mixture of luxury yachts moored next to expensive hotels and empty derelict factories and buildings dotted on the edge of the waterfront. As with the rest of the Ukraine it is slowly playing catch up after years of Soviet domination, but its potential is there to be seen. Various ships of the Ukrainian navy are based in the bay.