Accessibility links

Crimea: Playground For The Elite

With its Crimean takeover, Russia has not only expanded its borders -- it's also reclaimed miles of sunny, storied beachfront property. Here's a look at Crimea's history as a prime holiday destination.

The last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, and his wife, Empress Aleksandra, sightseeing on the Ai-Petri mountain peak outside Yalta in 1909
2

The last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, and his wife, Empress Aleksandra, sightseeing on the Ai-Petri mountain peak outside Yalta in 1909

Soviet leader Josef Stalin spent summer breaks at Yalta's Massandra Palace, and famously hosted British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt for the Yalta Conference in 1945.
3

Soviet leader Josef Stalin spent summer breaks at Yalta's Massandra Palace, and famously hosted British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt for the Yalta Conference in 1945.

Soviet luminaries like cosmonaut Yury Gagarin, the first man in space, were also frequent visitors to Crimea. Here, Gagarin (smoking) and composer Aleksandra Pakhmutova (far right) during a fishing trip in the resort town of Hurzuf in June 1965. 
4

Soviet luminaries like cosmonaut Yury Gagarin, the first man in space, were also frequent visitors to Crimea. Here, Gagarin (smoking) and composer Aleksandra Pakhmutova (far right) during a fishing trip in the resort town of Hurzuf in June 1965. 

Crimea was also a key destination for well-placed Soviet citizens, who competed at work and school for highly prized "kurorty," or spa trips, at resorts like the Rabochy Ugolok (Workers' Corner) in Alushta.
5

Crimea was also a key destination for well-placed Soviet citizens, who competed at work and school for highly prized "kurorty," or spa trips, at resorts like the Rabochy Ugolok (Workers' Corner) in Alushta.

Vacationers enjoy a low-frills aerial lift in Yalta, 1968.
6

Vacationers enjoy a low-frills aerial lift in Yalta, 1968.

A beachside nurse at the Ukraina sanatorium perfoms a check-up on a vacationer from Kabardino-Balkaria in 1977. 
8

A beachside nurse at the Ukraina sanatorium perfoms a check-up on a vacationer from Kabardino-Balkaria in 1977. 

Nor was Crimea only for adults. It was also the site of Artek, a deluxe Young Pioneer camp for the offspring of Soviet bureaucrats and other children lucky enough to secure a spot through academic or athletic achievement. Marshal of the Soviet Union Semyon Budyonny pays a visit to the camp in 1946.
9

Nor was Crimea only for adults. It was also the site of Artek, a deluxe Young Pioneer camp for the offspring of Soviet bureaucrats and other children lucky enough to secure a spot through academic or athletic achievement. Marshal of the Soviet Union Semyon Budyonny pays a visit to the camp in 1946.

Young Pioneers line up for a group portrait. Because of the warm climate, Artek operated year-round. At its peak it hosted 27,000 children a year. 
10

Young Pioneers line up for a group portrait. Because of the warm climate, Artek operated year-round. At its peak it hosted 27,000 children a year. 

Artek vacationers in 1972. The camp featured three swimming pools, a film studio, and a 7,000-seat stadium for performances and sporting events. 
11

Artek vacationers in 1972. The camp featured three swimming pools, a film studio, and a 7,000-seat stadium for performances and sporting events. 

Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu meets with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in Yalta in 1976. Brezhnev was a frequent visitor to Crimea, and continued the trend of hosting foreign guests from both inside and outside the communist bloc.
12

Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu meets with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in Yalta in 1976. Brezhnev was a frequent visitor to Crimea, and continued the trend of hosting foreign guests from both inside and outside the communist bloc.

Despite East-West tensions, Brezhnev and U.S. President Richard Nixon shared a suprising number of relaxing moments. The Cold War adversaries went on a Black Sea boat trip during Nixon's trip to Crimea in 1974. 
13

Despite East-West tensions, Brezhnev and U.S. President Richard Nixon shared a suprising number of relaxing moments. The Cold War adversaries went on a Black Sea boat trip during Nixon's trip to Crimea in 1974. 

Finally, some alone time: Brezhnev reading "Pravda" during a Crimea vacation in 1978.
14

Finally, some alone time: Brezhnev reading "Pravda" during a Crimea vacation in 1978.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold a walking meeting in Yalta in May 2003.
15

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold a walking meeting in Yalta in May 2003.

Putin visiting with campers -- now wearing blue scarves instead of communist-era red -- at Artek in 2001. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the camp was changed from a Young Pioneer site to an "international children's center."
16

Putin visiting with campers -- now wearing blue scarves instead of communist-era red -- at Artek in 2001. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the camp was changed from a Young Pioneer site to an "international children's center."

XS
SM
MD
LG