Opening of the exhibition

Opening of the exhibition

“Genoa and the Crimea (the 13th-15th centuries). History of the Genoese Trade Expansion in the Northern Black Sea Region”


The National Conservation Area “St. Sophia of Kyiv” does not stop its activities in studying and promoting the cultural heritage of the Genoese in the Crimea, which already began in 1958 when the outstanding monument of medieval architecture, the Sudak Fortress, was included in the conservation area.

For two centuries (1275-1475), on the Crimean coast of the Black Sea there was a number of settlements founded by the Genoese, partly on the site of old Byzantine and even ancient port points. All of these settlements served as a base for trade between the countries of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the nomads of the Eurasian steppes. The Genoese created in Caffa (Feodosia), Soldaia (Sudak), Cembalo (Balaklava) and other cities necessary conditions for realizing the trade and economic potential not only for themselves but also for the multi-ethnic population of the peninsula, ensuring a reliable and safe system of maritime communication. The political agility of the Genoese for a long time guaranteed the security and relative religious tolerance of the Greeks, Armenians, Tatars, Jews, and representatives of other peoples who resided in their trading posts. In historiography, the phenomenon of productive coexistence of residents of Eastern and Western descent in the Genoese factories has been called the “Genoese Commonwealth”.

The purpose of this exhibition is to shed light on the history and everyday life of the Genoese trading posts in the Northern Black Sea Region, the commercial and cultural interaction of ethnic groups in the Crimea during the 13th-15th centuries. The subject is revealed through unknown archival and cartographic documents, illustrative material and testimonies from contemporaries who recorded important historical events. Visitors to the exposition will be able to learn about the daily life of the Genoese trading posts, the commercial and cultural links between Genoa and the Crimea, which are not often addressed in classic textbooks on the history of Ukraine and the Northern Black Sea Region in particular.

The exposition is based on materials that are the result of many years of research by the famous French scientist ‒ Professor Michel Balard[*]. They were first introduced in an exhibition project at the Palazzo San Giorgio, Genoa in 2013. The exhibition “Genoa and the Crimea (the 13th-15th centuries). The history of the Genoese trade expansion in the Northern Black Sea Region» in its current format is complemented by a number of new materials that have become known recently, including by the Ukrainian scientists. The main exposition will be supplemented by drawings, paintings from the funds of the National Conservation Area “St. Sophia of Kyiv”, original artifacts found during archaeological research in the Crimea from the funds of the Archaeological Museum of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.

The exhibition will be displayed on the attic of the Metropolitan House Museum of the National Conservation Area “St. Sophia of Kyiv”. The opening will take place at 15.00 on December 5, 2019. The opening will be attended by the author of the project ‒ Professor Michel Balard. The National Conservation Area “St. Sophia of Kyiv” expresses its gratitude to the French Institute in Kyiv for its assistance in the implementation of this exhibition project. Special thanks to Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.

[*] Michel Balard is a French medievalist. In 1959, he began to teach history, in parallel with his research activities. In 1976, he defended his doctoral thesis on the subject “Genoese Romania (the 12th – beginning of the 15th century)” (La Romanie génoise (XIIe-début du XVe siècle)). Published in 1978, this work is still a classic historical composition on this subject. In 1976-1988, Professor of the University of Reims, 1988-1991 ‒ of the University of Paris 12 (Val-de-Marne). Since 1991 ‒ Professor of the University of Paris 1 (Pantheon-Sorbonne). The main focus of research is the history of trade, economic, political and cultural expansion of the representatives of the Italian maritime republics in the Eastern Mediterranean (Byzantium, Middle East, Cyprus), the Black Sea and Central Asia. During the years of work, he has discovered, researched and published thousands of medieval documents, mainly from the State Archives of Genoa. He is the author and editor of dozens of monographs and more than 300 scientific articles on the presence of Italians in the Overseas (Oltremare).