Engraved deep in the Black Sea, the Crimean peninsula is a place with rich and ancient history. It joins Russia in 1783 by the will of Empress Catherine the Great, who declares it as Russian in perpetuity.

In 1956, the Soviet leader Nikita Hruschov "gives away" the peninsula to Ukraine, but after a referendum held on the 16th of March, 2014, Crimea joins the Russian Federation.
The multicultural nature of the peninsula is palpable everywhere. Crossroads of cultures and conquests in Crimea have left their mark- Greeks, Armenians, Tatars, Jews, Bulgarians, Venetians, Genoese, Germans, Russians, Ukrainians and other nomadic people. They have coexisted for centuries all together, no matter their ethnicity or their religion. This left its imprint everywhere - in spiritual life, culture, architecture...There is something else - besides the old houses, that have preserved the Black Sea style,traces of socialism are prominent as well - red stars, massive monuments, sculptures of Lenin...
In Crimea the spiritual life does not stop, and culture is invariably present in people's lives - through poetry, music, theater...The peninsula has always been a center, a sacred place for Russian cultural figures. Regarding which one of its biggest attractions speaks out-

The House of Anton Chekhov in Yalta

In 1898, on medical advice, the great Russian writer decided to settle in the coastal town with his wife, mother and sister. He built a house with a loft, which his contemporaries called "White Dacha". In its large yard the author of "The Cherry Orchard" planted cherry trees, pines, olives, magnolias and other exotic plants. In the "White Dacha" he met Tolstoy, Gorky, Rachmaninov and other big names from the cultural and intellectual elite of Russia. Within he wrote the plays "Three Sisters" and "The Cherry Orchard"; and the novels "The Lady with the Dog", "The Bishop", "The Betrothed" and others.
Today, the house-museum of A.P.Chekhov is known as the initiator and organizer of the international scientific conferences "Readings of Chekhov in Yalta". And as for us, when visiting the house, we had the chance to meet with old Mrs. Alla Khalilo, a close friend of the writer's sister - Maria Pavlovna, and official representative of the museum. She told us about the woman's last wish for the house to become part of the Russian State Library "Leninka" because it really is a great cultural heritage.
Outside, on the seaside alley, life flows calmly. Street musicians play, passers-by stop to listen... Tourists get photographed amid the crashing waves on the pier. Sitting on small tables, travel agents advertise boat trips around the peninsula. One of them sailed from Yalta to

the famous castle "Swallow's Nest"

About 15 minutes later we landed on its little port. The beautiful historical and architectural monument was built in Neo-Gothic style in the early 19th century. Perched on a 40-meters-high white cliff above the sea- this fairytale castle is emblematic of Crimea. While climbing the stairs leading to it, you can meet men, offering tourists to take pictures with exotic animals - as part of the tourist attraction. The castle itself is closed; it can be only seen from the outside. The view, however, to the endless Black Sea horizon that opens before us, leaves us breathless.
On the way back we pass through the famous

Livadia Palace

Here, at the end of World War II, in February 1945, was conducted the historic Yalta conference. It gathered the leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition countries - the US, Britain and the Soviet Union. There, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin discussed the reconstruction of Europe after the devastating war. There they plotted the new world order and divided the spheres of influence on European countries. A few years later the Cold War between the outlined by them camps began. The conference in Yalta remains in history as an event with conflicting results.

Historical Memorial Museum "35th battery of Sevastopol"

It is one of the most sacred places for most residents of Crimea. Created on the site of a military base in Sevastopol, in which the tragic events occurred in July - July 1942 in this documentary data were abandoned 80,000 fighters of the Black Sea Fleet from Crimea, that heroically defended the Nazi invasion. Left in the siege without food, water, ammunition and medical care, 30,000 of them met death there. Visitors can walk along the evacuation tunnels of the base; explore the ruins of bombs and weapons from World War II. Impressive is the video installation at the end of the tour, showing pictures of war victims for whose memory the pictures are converted into digital lights resembling candles. They shine brightly for never to be forgotten. In this view, each visitor touchingly creeps from the large number of victims. In the pantheon in front of the museum are placed plates with the names of the fallen.
Here we met two war veterans –a former military submarine captain and his mechanic. We had lunch together - soldier food, served by a large military machine: boiled corn, pickle and pure vodka. Lunch lasted in long talks and military songs sung by veterans calling themselves "children of war".

The winery "Massandra"

In 1894 the Russian Tsar Nicholas II ordered Prince Lev Golitsyn to make a winery and appointed him to manage the process of winemaking in it. After its construction - in the form of a rectangle, the prince is dedicated to the development of the varieties that are best suited to the region which identify the production of "Massandra" today. The peninsula has more than 300 sunny days per year, sufficient to produce a good crop of grapes. In the cellar there is an impressive collection of wines from around the world, but the ones produced in Crimea are distinguished by their sweetness. Having survived the vicissitudes of history, the winery today is still considered one of the best in the world, says proudly Valentin Mitatiev, head of the commercial department. He walks us around theshelves on which lie above 1 million bottles, and shows some of them, which are more than 200 years old.

Bulgarian community in Crimea

Our stay in Yalta coincided with the holding of the Armenian festival in the city. The rich dance, musical and culinary program had gathered representatives of the Bulgarian, Greek, Armenian and Tatar communities in Crimea. We had long and interesting talks.
We sat to try the traditional Crimean cognac with Ivan Ivanovich–the representative of the Bulgarian community in Crimea and member of the Municipal Chamber of the Russian Federation. "The more Bulgarians here know each other, the better we can manage to preserve our culture and our relations with Bulgaria. Bulgarians in Crimea are few, about 1900 families ... "- he said. And we asked him to tell us more about the organization, whose president he is. "We set ourselves a task to be active and I don’t want to brag, but for the past 20 years, we have done many things. The most important thing is that we stay together - we have not dispersed, we do not look for each other’s flaws, and we do not split into groups. We work on projects related to the development of national and cultural autonomies like ours. We organize the festival "Bulgarian meetings", which is of great importance both for us and for the relations between Crimea and Bulgaria. From the time when we were part of Ukraine, we have been trying to create twin cities such as Ruse - Simferopol, Nessebar - Yalta, etc. We want to make big Bulgarian Cultural Centre here, bringing together Bulgarians from Bulgaria, Tatarstan and Crimea. Our goal is to create such close ties between the two cultures that have never existed ". And Julia, the woman sitting next to Ivan Ivanovich, also Bulgarian, adds: "In 20 years of existence of this community, Bulgarians are running programs on radio and television, we issue our own newspaper, and we have schools in Bulgarian language, history and culture. And all this is available online. Our community sponsors us to communicate and at least once a year to visit Bulgaria. We do not just live in Crimea;we travel in the whole world! "

Photos: Elma Neykova