Gaspra village, Alupka Highway, 9
The tiny Gothic castle is set, like a swallow’s nest, on the steep Cape of Ai-Todornot cliffs, far from Yalta. It is one of Crimea’s best known trademarks. This elegant building is reminiscent of the castles on the banks of the Rhine, and is considered to be one of the most interesting architectural and historical monuments on the peninsula.
The castle, which at first used to be wooden, got its unusual name from its first owner, Rakhmanina, a Muscovite merchant’s wife who owned this piece of land at the end of the 19th century. Its modern look, the Swallow’s Nest owes to the oil magnate Baron Steingel, who purchased the castle at the beginning of the 20th century and restored it. The original project blueprint was created by talented architect Leonid Sherwood.
But a few years later, the German baron left Russia and the Swallow’s Nest passed into the ownership of a merchant from Moscow, who opened a restaurant here. However, the diner lasted for only a short time. In 1927, a major earthquake hit Crimea, causing part of the cliff to collapse into the sea. The restaurant was shut down, and the building was left in disrepair for almost 40 years.
Only at the end of 60s was the castle was reconstructed and opened to visitors. Until 2011, there was an Italian restaurant in the castle, and various souvenirs were sold nearby. Today, in the Swallow’s Nest is an exhibition center, where exhibits are held constantly.