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(sĭvăs`təpōl'), formerly spelled Sebastopol, city (1989 pop. 355,000), on the Crimean peninsula and the Bay of Sevastopol, an inlet of the Black Sea. From 1954 part of Ukraine (then the Ukrainian SSR), it passed to Russian control in 2014 after the occupation and annexation of Crimea. A city with special status under Ukrainian rule, it was made a federal city by Russia and is administratively not part of Crimea.


The city is a port, a major naval base, and a strategic strong point. Commercial vessels no longer use the deep natural harbor. Instead, the harbor is given over to the navy that patrols the Black Sea and the Bosporus. The city's industries include shipbuilding, lumber milling, food processing, and the production of bricks and furniture.


Sevastopol stands near the site of the ancient Greek colony of Chersonesus or Cherson, founded in 421 B.C. A democratic city-state, Chersonesus was the most important Greek colony in the Crimea until Scythian invasions forced it to become (179 B.C.–63 B.C.) a protectorate of King Mithradates VI. In the 1st cent. A.D. the cities of the Crimea became part of the Roman Empire, and in the 4th cent. Chersonesus became the city of Korsun in the Byzantine Empire. In the Middle Ages it remained a large trading and political center and played an important role in the economic and cultural life of the Crimea, the Black Sea area, and Russia.

The city survived as a Genoese trade colony until it was destroyed (1399) by a Tatar invasion. Sevastopol was founded as a city and port by Catherine II on the site of the Tatar village of Akhtiar after the Russian annexation (1783) of the Crimea. It was strongly fortified and became (1804) the chief base of the Russian Black Sea fleet. In the Crimean WarCrimean War
, 1853–56, war between Russia on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire, Great Britain, France, and Sardinia on the other. The causes of the conflict were inherent in the unsolved Eastern Question.
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 Sevastopol resisted the besieging British, French, Turks, and Sardinians for 349 days (1854–55). The hero of the land defense was Gen. E. I. TotlebenTotleben or Todleben, Eduard Ivanovich
, 1818–84, Russian general and military engineer. He won his chief renown in the Crimean War by his defense of Sevastopol (1854–55).
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; the Russian fleet was sunk by the Russians themselves to block the entrance to the harbor.

In Sept., 1855, the French successfully stormed the fortress of Malakhov, on the south shore of the bay, and three days later the Russians were forced to abandon Sevastopol. A record of the spirit and sufferings of the city's defenders has been preserved in The Tales of Sevastopol by Tolstoy, who fought in the ranks of the besieged. Sevastopol declined as a military fortress after the Crimean Peace Conference (1856), and its fortifications were razed. After 1871, however, they were rebuilt, and in 1890 the city again became a chief naval base. The Sevastopol sailors mutinied during the 1905 revolution. In the Russian civil war Sevastopol was the headquarters of Gen. P. N. Wrangel during the last stand of the Whites (1920).

The heroic resistance of Sevastopol in 1854–55 was, if possible, eclipsed by the stand the city made against the Germans in World War II. During a siege lasting more than eight months, the city was virtually destroyed. For three weeks the defenders fought on in the rubble, against all hope, until July 3, 1942, when German and Romanian troops at last took the city. After its recapture (May, 1944) by the Russians reconstruction began. As a reward for its valiant resistance, Sevastopol was named a "hero city" of the Soviet Union. The city was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954 (as was all Crimea) and became part of the independent Ukraine in 1991. The former Soviet Black Sea fleet, of which the city was the home, remained largely under Russian control under a 1995 agreement, and subsequent agreements (1997, 2010) allowed Russia to use Sevastopol naval base until 2042.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city under republic jurisdiction in Crimean Oblast, Ukrainian SSR. Seaport and highway junction. Railroad station. Hero-city. Located in the southwestern part of the Crimea on a stretch of the Black Sea coast having numerous picturesque bays. Area, 770 sq km. Population, 305,000 (1975; 74,500 in 1926, 114,000 in 1939, 144,000 in 1959, and 229,000 in 1970). The city is divided into four districts.

In antiquity the city of Chersonesus was located in the vicinity of Sevastopol’. Sevastopol’ itself was founded in 1783 as a military seaport and fortress after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. Initially the city was called Akhtiar (White Cliff), after the name of a settlement on the bay. A. V. Suvorov and F. F. Ushakov took part in the construction of the fortress. In 1784 the city was named Sevastopol’, which, translated from Greek, means “magnificent city” or “city of glory.” In 1802 it became part of Tavrida Province, and in 1804 it was proclaimed the principal naval port of the Black Sea. Dissatisfaction among the population and sailors with the oppressive measures of the authorities increased during the quarantine connected with a plague epidemic in 1830. The heroic Sevastopol’ defense of 1854–55 during the Crimean War (1853–56) is a glorious page in Russian military history.

In 1875 the city was linked by railroad with Simferopol’. By the end of the 19th century, Sevastopol’ had become a major city with developed industries and a large labor force connected with the port. Marxist circles were formed in the city in the late 1890’s, and in the period 1900–02 the first Social Democratic organizations appeared both in the city and the fleet. In 1902 the Social Democratic Sevastopol’ Labor Organization was created, and in 1903, the Sevastopol’ Committee of the RSDLP. The year 1904 saw the formation of the Sevastopol’ Military Organization of the RSDLP, which in the beginning of the Revolution of 1905–07 prepared an armed uprising of the Black Sea fleet, including the mutiny on the battleship Potemkin. The Sevastopol’ mutiny of 1905 took place in November of that year. In March 1917 a soviet of deputies of the army, navy, and workers was formed, and on Dec. 16 (29), 1917, Soviet power triumphed in Sevastopol’. In May 1918 the city was occupied by German troops, and after their departure in November of that year. British, French, and Greek interventionists entered the city. Although liberated by the Red Army in April 1919, Sevastopol’ was captured by Denikin’s White Guards that June. The city was finally liberated by the Red Army on Nov. 15, 1920.

During the years of Soviet power, Sevastopol’ has become one of the major cities and cultural centers of the southern USSR. The heroic Sevastopol’ defense of 1941–42 took place during the Great Patriotic War. By a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR dated Dec. 22, 1942, a medal entitled For the Defense of Sevastopol’ was established. Sevastopol’ was occupied by fascist German troops from July 4. 1942, to May 9, 1944. It was liberated as a result of the Crimean operation of 1944. In 1954, in connection with the centennial of its heroic defense, Sevastopol’ was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. In 1965 the hero-city of Sevastopol’ received the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal.

Modern Sevastopol’ is one of Crimean Oblast’s important industrial centers. Gross industrial output in 1975 exceeded that of 1940 by a factor of more than 13. The fishing and fish-canning industries rank first in volume of industrial output. Ships of the Sevastopol’ fishing fleet, based in Kamyshovaia Bukhta, work the Atlantic and Indian oceans. On a single voyage, these floating canneries can produce approximately 10 million cans of fish (1975). The city’s canning industry handles fruits and vegetables as well. The food-processing industry is also represented by wine-making (the Zolotaia Balka Wine-growing Combine outside the city) and by the production of essential oils, butter, cheese, milk, and meat. Outstanding among the city’s machine-building and metalworking enterprises are the Maritime Plant, whose floating cranes and other products are sent to many republics of the USSR as well as to foreign countries, and the Parus Instrument Plant. There are also garment and knitwear enterprises, a furniture factory, a woodworking combine, and a combine producing structural members. The city is the site of the Sevastopol’ State Regional Electric Power

Plant. The mining industry outside the city produces limestone used as flux and as a building material.

Sevastopol’ is situated on the terraced slopes of the hills overlooking Sevastopol’ Bay, which divides the city into northern and southern halves. The southern half is further divided by the Iuzhnaia Bay into the Gorodskaia and Korabel’naia areas. All but destroyed during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the city was rebuilt in accordance with a new master plan (1946; architects V. M. Artiukhov and Iu. A. Trautman; engineer I. K. Zhilko; detailed design project worked out by architects L. M. Poliakov, B. R. Rubanenko, G. I. Simonov, and V. A. Shkvari-kov). The city center is bounded by a highway ring that includes Nakhimov Prospect (1948–51; architects L. M. Poliakov and others), Bol’shaia Morskaia Street (1952–54; architects V. P. Melik-Parsadanov and others), and Lenin Street. New public buildings and apartment houses were constructed, and some of the older ones were rebuilt. In the period 1955–72, 1.744 million sq km of residential space were added. New public buildings include the drama theater (1954–56; architect V. V. Pelevin) and the Ukraina Hotel (1962–63; architect I. A. Braude); apartment houses include the complex along Ostria-kov Street (1973; architects V. P. Shcherbinina, I. I. Mednikov, and V. N. Shipulin) and Letchiki Street (1975: architect K. V. Butova). Among the architectural monuments are the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul (1843) and the Grafskaia Wharf (1846), both in the classical style. The year 1954 saw the reopening of the panorama Defense of Sevastopol’, 1854–55 (1902–04; artists F. A. Rubo and others). The panorama, first opened in 1905, was restored by a group of Soviet artists under the direction of V. N. Iakovlev and P. P. Sokolov-Skalia. The building in which the panorama is housed (1902–04; architect O. I. Enberg) was restored and partially rebuilt in accordance with a design by the architect V. P. Petropavlovskii.

Various fortifications and remnants of fortifications have been preserved in the city and the city’s environs. There are monuments to V. I. Lenin (bronze and granite, 1957; sculptor P. I. Bondarenko; architects S. la. Turkovskii and Iu. V. Shchu-ko) and to A. I. Kazarskii and the crew of the brig Merkurii (cast iron and stone, 1834; architect A. P. Briullov). There are also numerous monuments to the heroes of the 1854–55 defense of Sevastopol’, for example, those to P. S. Nakhimov (bronze and granite, 1898; restored in 1959; sculptors N. V. Tomskii and A. V. Aref’ev) and E. I. Totleben (bronze and stone, 1909; sculptor I. N. Shreder: designed by A. A. Bil’derling; restored by the sculptor L. M. Pisarevskii). Other monuments include To the Sunken Ships monument (granite and bronze, 1905; sculptor A. Adamson), a monument to P. M. Koshka (bronze and granite, 1956; sculptors V. S. Keiduk and I. S. Keiduk; architect V. P. Petropavlovskii), and monuments to the participants in the revolutionary movement, to members of the underground movement, and to those who took part in the defense of 1941–42 and the liberation of the city in 1944, including monuments to P. P. Shmidt (bronze and stone, 1937–67; architect V. K. Retling), to the Komsomol heroes (bronze and granite, 1963; architect V. I. Fomin), and to the fighters in the Sevastopol’ underground in the years 1942–44 (tuff, 1964; architect A. A. Sheffer) all of which were sculpted by S. A. Chizh, as well as monuments to the heroes of the assault on Sapun Hill (Obelisk of Glory; stone and granite, 1944; architect A. D. Kiselev). Other monuments commemorating World War II are the Victory Obelisk (tuff, 1944: architect M. la. Ginzburg) and the Glory Memorial—a monument to the heroes of the 1941–42 defense of Sevastopol’ (reinforced concrete and granite, 1967; architects B. V. Kalinkov, N. N. Sdobniakov, and I. E. Fialko: sculptor V. V. Iakovlev).

The city’s research and educational institutions include institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (marine hydrophysics, biology of the southern seas), an institute of instrument manufacture, and technicums dealing with shipbuilding, construction, and Soviet trade. There is also a medical school and a marine observatory. The city’s two theaters are the A. V. Lunacharskii Russian Drama Theater and the Red Banner Black Sea Fleet Drama Theater. There is a museum devoted to the heroic defense and liberation of Sevastopol’, which combines the panorama Defense of Sevastopol’, 1854–55, the diorama Assault on Sapun Hill, May 7, 1944, and the monuments on the Malakhov Kurgan, scene of fierce battles in 1854–55 and 1941–42. In addition to a house-museum devoted to figures in the underground movement, there is the Red Banner Black Sea Fleet Museum, a historical and archaeological museum devoted to Chersonesus, an art museum, and an aquarium. The city publishes the newspaper Slava Sevastopolia (since 1920).


Istoriia goroda-geroia Sevastopolia, vols. 1–2. Kiev, 1958–60.
Semin, G. I. Sevastopol’. Moscow, 1955.
Chebaniuk, Z. F. Sevastopol’: lstoricheskie mesta: Pamiatniki [5th ed.]. Simferopol’, 1967.
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Timofeev, A. I. Sevastopol’ vykhodit na barrikady. Simferopol’, 1973.
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the name of a number of ships in the Russian and Soviet navies. (1) One of the first armored steam frigates of the Baltic Fleet, in service from 1864 to 1886.

The ship had a displacement of more than 6,000 tons and was armed with 17 guns.

(2) A squadron ironclad. It was laid in 1891, launched in 1895, and commissioned in 1898. The ship was built in St. Petersburg under the direction of the engineers E. P. Andrush-chenko and N. I. Afanas’ev. It had a displacement of 10,900 tons; a speed of 17 knots (31 km/hr); was armed with four 305mm guns, 12 152-mm guns, 40 small-caliber guns, and six torpedo launchers; and had a crew of 650.

The Sevastopol’ was transferred from the Baltic Sea to the Far East and at the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 was in Port Arthur. It fought in the defense of Port Arthur of 1904, successfully supporting ground forces with its fire. During the night of November 25 (December 8), in view of the danger of being sunk by Japanese artillery in the inner roadstead, the commander, Captain First Class N. O. Essen, moved the ship to the outer roadstead to Belyi Volk Bay, where it heroically repulsed attacks by Japanese destroyers and on Dec. 20, 1904 (Jan. 2, 1905), was sunk by its own crew to avoid surrender to the enemy.

(3) A battleship of the dreadnought type.

The Sevastopol’ was laid in 1909 simultaneously with the similar ships Petropavlovsk, Gangut, and Poltava in accordance with a program to rebuild the navy after the Russo-Japanese War. The ship was launched in 1911 and commissioned in November 1914. In a technical sense, battleships of the Sevastopol’ type, designed and built under the direction of A. N. Krylov and I. G. Bubnov, were the best ships of the class at that time. The displacement was 23,000 tons, the speed was 23 knots (42.5 km/-hr), and the weapons included 12 305-mm guns (in four turrets), 16 120-mm guns, four 47-mm guns, and four torpedo launchers. The ship had a crew of 1,126.

The Sevastopol’ fought in World War I in the Baltic Sea. After the Great October Revolution of 1917, the Sevastopol’ took part in the heroic Ice Campaign of the Baltic Fleet in 1918 and the defense of Petrograd of 1919. From April 1925 to May 1943 it was called the Parizhskaia Kommuna. In late 1929 and early 1930 it was transferred to the Black Sea and became the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet. During the Great Patriotic War the ship fought in the defense of Sevastopol’ of 1941–42 and in other combat operations on the Black Sea. On July 8, 1945, it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. The ship was decommissioned in 1956.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a port, resort, and naval base in S Ukraine, in the Crimea, on the Black Sea: captured and destroyed by British, French, and Turkish forces after a siege of 11 months (1854--55) during the Crimean War; taken by the Germans after a siege of 8 months (1942) during World War II. Pop.: 338 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005