Visiting Crimea’s Castle of Love, the Swallow’s Nest
If you are ever planning on visiting Ukraine, my three favorite places include Kiev, Odessa and the Crimea. Kiev, being the capital, is probably the most beautiful city in Eastern Europe. We had done an interesting video piece on it earlier. Odessa is an old, majestic city which hums all summer long with non stop events, beautiful beaches and the most wonderful people. The Crimea, though, is among the most beautiful places on the planet. The natural wonders never seem to cease with beautiful waterfalls, immaculate landscapes and some of the craziest man made structures.
One crazy structure would have to be the Swallow’s Nest (aka
Castle of Love), a small but impressive castle built on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Black Sea. If you visit the Crimea, you absolutely must make a stop here. The sight is truly impressive and open to all tourists.
The history of the Swallow’s nest is a bit more legend than fact, but it goes like this … While at war (likely Russia/Turkey), a general managed to capture a beautiful maiden. He immediately fell in love and brought her back to the Crimea with him. He built her a majestic structure on the edge of the cliff and named the place Generalif (or, Castle of Love). He then gave the newly built house as a gift to his newly found wife. It is unclear how the woman felt about this general, but legend has it that when he returned from his next campaign the woman was gone. Some say that the woman left
the general, others say that she was kidnapped back by the Turks, but all agree that the love wasn’t meant to be.
Tourists visiting the nest will be told this story by all travel agents. There will be dramatized versions of this story all over Crimea with minor variations here and there. While the story itself is more legend than fact, a great deal is known about the place. The building was in fact built for a Russian general in 1895. It was originally a wooden structure (picture below) that suffered a number of natural disasters through its time. It was later bought by a Russian merchant, and was soon taken over by the Soviet leadership. After a series of tragedies, the castle was brought to its current glory in the year 1968, where it opened to the public. Since then, the building has been well maintained and has become one of Crimea’s most visited tourist attractions.
For those wishing to travel to Crimea to see the Swallow’s Nest, or any of its other incredible sights, one way to get the most out of your trip is to hire a personal guide. When doing so, there is often no better way to ensure the best experience than by hiring a local historian. There are several such historians in Ukraine, but one that I came across was Sergey Tsarapora. He runs a small tourist agency in Ukraine and has a number of reasonably priced tours. He even happened to put together a short video of the Swallow’s nest.
When it comes to pictures of the nest, there is no need to go much beyond Google’s image search. Since the castle is so small, there aren’t many different vantage points to shoot it from, so many of the images look very similar. Here are some nicer images I found that will give you a good sense of the nest and its surrounding area.