Sudak Fortress

Sudak Fortress


Sudak fortress is a unique complex of monuments of medieval archeology and architecture of the 3–16th centuries. The total area of the fortress is 27.9 hectares.The vast majority of architectural objects placed in this area are included in the State list of immovable monuments of Ukraine.

According to the text of the Marginalis of the 13thon the margins of church book Sugdeya fortress was founded in 212.The anonymous author, who lived in Sugdeya in 1296, wrote on the margins of the Short Lives book (Synaxarion) the following text: “Sugdeya fortress was built in 5720 [212], and today, namely in 6804 [1296], it has passed 1 084 years since the foundation of Sugdeya”. The same date is filed in two notes Synaxarion dated respectively 1312 and 1411–1412 years.This is the only written sources, which indicates the existence of the city in 212.

Sudak Fortress

At the turn of the II–III century almost all mountain Crimea became part of the Bosporus.For control of territory and to fight piracy there were established numerous fortified shelters – both on the coast and in the depth of the peninsula.Maybe some of them were designed for disposition groups of Bosporus soldiers. One of these points was Sugdeya. Large area on the northern slope of the fortress mountain was surrounded by walls, which wasn’t strengthened by any tower in the 3rd century.Plan of the defensive walls is approaching to half circles.The outer and inner shells of masonry were built with yellow kapsel’s sandstone by more or less regular border masonry technique with using a limestone concrete. The space between the shells was walled-up with untreated stone on a clay solution.

Outside the castle, from the port, there was built some fairly powerful towers for defense from the sea.Technology of towers construction is professional.Interior masonry of towers was made in diagonal technique.It indicates that the performers knew the basic principles of classical Roman construction thing.Masonry of walls was made with limy solution. Technology of masonry of the outside shell is similar to the shell of the fortress wall on the northern slope. Interior space of the fortresshad remained unbuilt.It served as a shelter for inhabitants of surrounding villages when it was military danger. With the further development of the city a cultural layer of the original fortification was almost completely taken down, although the finds of this period are not unique, they are on the territory of the most of the settlement and in water area of the port bay.

Life in the initial Sugdeya finally fades away around 330’s. Quite a long time it had remained deserted and gradually destroyed. Its revival on the ruins of an abandoned late classical fortress began only in the second half of the 7thcentury.Advantageous geographical location of Sugdeya was an important factor in the rapid development of the area. At the port bay of Sudak – Limen-Kale there was began to operate the port in the second half of VII century.This is shown with artifacts of early time, which were found during archaeological research in the port of the city and the offshore of the port bay. In the written sources of that time the first mention about Sugdeya is found in an anonymous cosmography from Ravennaof the 7th, where is lists the main port points of the Black Sea coast.

The power of Khazar Khanate distributed in the Northern Black Sea coast in the second half of the 7thcentury.The nomadic Iranand Turkic speaker’s tribes, which penetrate on the peninsula, gradually settled there including and in the restored castle Sugdeya. The numerous evidence of penetration into the city of the came population have been found during archaeological researches.It came under the Byzantine politics and culture influence and quickly passed to a sedentary lifestyle and replenished the population of the early Byzantine city. Also their religious beliefs and everyday life became Byzantine. Despite the ethnic diversity of the population and the possible presence of representatives of Khazar administration in the region the main language has remained Greek, religion – orthodox Christianity.

Byzantine government worked on Christianization of pagan population of the city. At the beginning of the 8thSugdeya already had the episcopal chairthat according to the medieval sense gave Sugdeya a city status.

The Byzantine Empire had enough friendly relationship with Khazar Khanate for a long time. The political situation on the peninsula had been quite stable for few centuries. Research of fortifications reported no significant alterations in this period. The fortifications of the Late classical time had been used almost the end of the 10thcentury.However, the city and the adjacent area had been actively built with residential and religious buildings since the beginning of the 8th.

The Byzantine Empire strengthened its position in the Tauris after the collapse of Khazar Khanate in the late 10thcentury.Sugdeya became the center of the Byzantine military-administrative unit –theme, but it was attached to the theme Kherson already in 1059. Byzantine administration was taking steps to restore the fortifications of the city. They were enhanced by numerous towers made with the use of limestone concrete on the turn of the 10th and 11thcenturies.Residential and cult constructions had been rebuildingactively.

The 10–13th centuries are the period of highest development of the city. It became a significant commercial center of the Taurisand the all Northern Black Sea Coast. Since the end of the 11th century it got under protectorate of Kuman, which guaranteed the protection from external enemies for residents on the conditions of payment of tribute. In 1204, after the fall of the Byzantine state Sugdeya had been a part of the Trebizond Empire and for a while it becomes a scene of Trebizondand Seljuk military and economic confrontation.

For the first time Mongolarmy came under the walls of Sudak January 27, 1223. The population had left town for fear of the conquerors. The second time the Mongol army was near Sudak December 26, 1239, after a campaign in the north-eastern Rus’. After the formation of the Golden State, Sudak was got under dependent of it.The new government had remained unchanged form of the administrative structure of the city and it was also interested in trade relations of Sudak, which reached the Iberian Peninsula and Egypt.

Mongol conquest of the East European steppes, especially in the initial phase, led to significant population movements from east to west. Natives of the Kuman’s steppes sought refuge and shelter in the peninsula and near the walls of Sugdeya. Archaeological research necropolis, which was left by this population, clearly illustrates the gradual process of its Christianization.The accumulation of large numbers of people on a limited territory with almost no means of subsistence led to the flourishing trade Kuman slaves, the most significant center of which was Sugdeya for nearly 100 years.

Merchants from Western Europe, mainly from two north Italian cities – Venice and Genoa increasingly got into the markets of the Black Sea coast since the second half of the 13th century.They had an interest in favorable terms of trade with the countries of the Far East and Central Asia, whichwas formed here after the formation of the Mongol Empire. Around 1260 Genoa established a major trading factory Kaffa (modern Theodosia), which is located 50 km away to east from Sudak. Their competitors – the Venetians traded in Soldayya (Italians so called Sudak).

In late 13th –the early 14ththe process of restructuring of fortifications activated, especially in the central area of outer defense line, but the level of construction equipment was very bad. The fortifications of Sugdeya of the 13thmore like a high stone wall than the fortress walls because they were built on clay-mud solutions. They could only scare squad riders, but they weren’t barrier for professional army.

In the first half of the 14th century Golden governors of the Crimea under the guise of religious struggle expelled Christian population from the city and ordered to demolish the fortress walls.They were finally demolished during the reign of Khan Uzbek.

In the Golden Horde after the death of Khan Berdibeck(1359) there was began the struggle for the throne, which was successfully took advantage by Genoa. July 19, 1365 Genoa squad “captures the height of Sugdeya” as one of the written sources reported. There had been begun restoring urban infrastructure, fortress walls and public buildings. At first Genoabuilt a citadel on top of the mountain and surrounded with earthen walla much of the city. Restoring external line of defense had been begun no later than 1385.The territory of Genoese Soldayya was divided with fortress walls into four parts: a citadel –St. Elias Castle, the Holy Crossfortress, a port part and the outer suburbs. The space inside the fortress walls, which is empty nowadays, was built with residential and religious buildings. Residential buildings of Soldayya were located on terraces that descended the slopes of the fortress mountain.Several streets stretched from north to south. They were connected by narrow alleys, which were held at the edges of terraces. According to archaeological research, buildings of municipal area with houses, where artisans lived and were placedtheir workshops,were located outside the fortress walls.

Domination of Genoa to Soldayya lasted from 1365 to 1475.Sudakhad become the center of judicial and administrative district – kadiluk being under power of the Ottoman Empire since 1475.Turkish garrison was consisting of 10–30 soldiers defended the fortress.This quantity of soldiers was barely enough to defend the dilapidated walls of Sudak. Residents of the city settled on the surrounding villages, away from the coast, when Zaporozhian and Don Cossacks began to make trips to Crimea in the first half of the 17th.Mostly Muslim population of Sudak had lived in a small village west of the fortress, partially between the ruins of the medieval buildings since the second half of the 17th.

In 1771, during the first Russo-Turkish War, the band of Russian army captured the city.The Russian garrison was stationed in Sudak fortress. During the construction of barracks for it the remains of medieval buildings in fortress territory were finally destroyed. The garrison had been in Sudak to 1816.

For a long time the ruins of the fortress were “quarry” where building stones were took. Only in 1868 Sudak fortress was transferred tosupervision of the Imperial Archaeological Commission, which commissioned the monument to supervision of the Odessa Society of History and Antiquities. Thus, Sudak Fortress is one of the first state historical and cultural conservation areain Ukraine.

After the revolution in 1917 there was established the historical and archaeological museum in 1925, which had become a branch of Moscow State Historical Museum since the following 1926. There were started regular archaeological researches. Sudak fortress has been a department of the National Conservation Area “St. Sophia in Kyiv” since 1958. Today the complex of monuments of the Conservation Area has about 60 architectural and archaeological objects on the territory of 27.854 hectares.Selective restoration and conservation works have carried out since 1959.Since 1968 there had been begun full-scale-integrated architectural studies, project development and implementation of repair and restoration works of Sudak fortress as an integral medieval formation with specifically approved by the State Construction Committee program, which was designed for 25 years.Implementation of research, design and restoration of objects of the city-fortress were carried out under the direction of architect Ye.I. Lopushynska. Sudak fortress functions as a powerful museum complex and it is the recognized object of informative tourism that is visited more than 150 thousand tourists a year.