Vorontsovsky Palace


Crimea's most exotic palace-park complex is wedged between the coast and Mt Ay-Petri, in a stunning setting 16km west of Yalta at Alupka. The palace was designed by English architects for the English-educated Count Mikhail Vorontsov, the immensely rich regional governor, and it's a bizarre combination of Scottish castle on its landward side and Arabic-Asian fantasy on its seaward side. Its towers are said to repeat the contours of the Ay-Petri plateau looming above it. Vorontsov brought serfs from his estates all over Russia to build the palace and park in 1828–46. A century later Winston Churchill stayed here during the 1945 Yalta Conference.

Tours take you firstly into the palace's luxurious interior, which includes an imitation Wedgwood 'blue room', an English-style dining hall and an indoor conservatory. However, the best views are from the lush gardens behind the palace, where six marble lions flank the staircase framed against the backdrop of Mt Ay-Petri. Churchill joked that one of the lions looked like him – minus the trademark cigar.

Bus 32 from Yalta's Veshchevoy Rynok bus station and bus 27 from Yalta's main bus station shuttle back and forth to Alupka (7uah).