The ancient city of Chersonesos sits on the Heraclean Peninsula in south-west Crimea, on the northern shores of the Black Sea. Founded by the Ionian Greeks in the 6th century BC, Chersonesos was occupied for almost 2,000 years, with archaeology at the site reflecting a mixture of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine influences, as well as evidence of its role as a Christian centre in the medieval period. Excavations at Chersonesos began in 1827 and revealed a wealth of streets, houses, churches, and squares belonging to different phases of the city’s past, in addition to cemeteries, workshops, and agricultural plots of land outside the city’s defensive walls. The Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora, which encompasses both the city and the surrounding area, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013.
The photograph shows the 1935 Basilica, named after the year it was excavated and believed to date to the 6th century AD. Photographer Vitalii Popkov said, ‘These places have always attracted me as a photographer and as a history buff, and until 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea, I visited Chersonesos several times a year, and have taken many photos of this place. I think that this picture, which was taken in 2010, fully captures the atmosphere of this historic place.’
This image was chosen as the winner of the CWA Photo of the Year 2021 competition (sponsored by Hidden History Travel). You can see the runners-up here.
Text: Vitalii Popkov & Amy Brunskill.
Image: Vitalii Popkov
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