Genovese Fortress


Its vertiginous location is one of the major appeals of Sudak's Fortress. This once-impregnable complex is perched on a massive seaside cliff and in true Ukrainian fashion you're allowed to clamber all over it, at times perhaps unsafely.

Built during the 14th and 15th centuries, the fortress still cuts a magnificent silhouette. The remains of its crenulated walls (6m high and 2m thick) extend for 2km, encircling more than 30 hectares of dry sloping terrain.

Ten original towers remain, most of them bearing the grand-sounding names of Genovese nobles who ruled the city: Francesco di Camilla or Cigallo Corrado, for instance. Open for visitors are the sea-facing Consul's Tower and 13th-century temple. Originally a mosque, it was at different times used by Italian Catholics, German Lutherans and Russian Orthodox Christians.

Every summer the fortress plays host to the medieval festival Genovese Helmet, held on set days between mid-July and the end of August, where you can watch actors dressed as knights fight with swords or 'storm' the fortress on horseback. Stalls offer blacksmithing, crafts from the Middle Ages and, erm, AK-47 shooting.