In the Soviet Union, an avowedly atheistic society, the authorities have been criticised for allowing many splendid churches and other buildings of worship to fall into shabby disrepair.
In the Soviet Union, an avowedly atheistic society, the authorities have been criticised for allowing many splendid churches and other buildings of worship to fall into shabby disrepair. In one renowned city, however, that criticism has a blunter edge. The city is Yalta, the administrative centre of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, where many imposing buildings remain in good order although adapted for purposes far removed from their original functions.
SYNOPSIS: Yalta stands on the southern shore of the beautiful Crimean Peninsula, and settlement there dates back to prehistoric times. Even as late as the opening decades of the nineteenth century it remained barely village -- some thirty houses, a church and the facilities of a small military garrison.
In the last century, it has burgeoned into one of Russia's most popular holiday and health resorts.
One unmistakable building is the Castle on the cliff -- the Swallow's Nest -- devastated in 1927, but restored forty years later, to its original form. Further along the coast stand the palace and parks of Count Mikhail Vorontsov's summer residence, which was designed by English architect Edward Blair and took sixteen years and six thousand workers to build. Vorontsov was an imminent statesman under two tsars - Alexander the First and Nicholas the First. The palace was built in the style of an English castle, and is now a People's Museum. It was so solidly constructed that neither landslides nor earthquakes have disturbed its massive stone-work. The park nurtures tow hundred species of plants.
Another palace, the Lyvadia, was built for the Tsar's family in 1911. After the revolution six years later, it became the Soviet Union's first holiday resort for farm workers. It has since become a sanatorium for cardiological diseases, with a highly-skilled staff of medical personnel.
In one of the place halls, the historic Yalta Conference was held between the fourth and the eleventh of February in 1945. United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Josef Stalin met here to plan the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany. They also agreed to meet in San Francisco to finalise plans for the United Nations.