Eski Kermen is a medieval town located 6 km from Mangupa, in the Bakhchisaray region in Crimea.
The town is located atop one of the flat-topped mountains called mesa, which are normal for this part of Crimea, and is famous for its more than 300 caves. The caves were built in the 6th century and was used for human habitation because of the safety they provided and the shelter that they offered from the elements. Over the centuries the dwellings grew and housed several hundreds of people at one time. Religious life was important to these people who had a few temples and churches built in the caves. One of the churches still has frescoes that depict Christ and Mary, although the frescoes are beginning to show the wear of the elements.
Eski-Kermen is a rocky plateau that stretches from north to south, covers the area of about 9 hectares, and is encircled by the rocky precipices almost 30 meters high. The territory of the plateau and slopes of Eski-Kermen are free of modern buildings, though they are partially covered by bushes and mixed forest.
The groups of caves of defensive, religious, and administrative purpose stretch along the whole perimeter of the plateau rocky precipices. There are also numerous man-made caves, which served as the cellars in the mediaeval houses. They are scattered all over the top of the plateau too. The total number of the ancient rocky caves in the Eski-Kermen plateau is more than 300. There is a unique siege well among them and a few cave churches that keep the remains of the 13th-14th century frescoes. There are also the archaeological remains of the mediaeval ground-based buildings, such as fortifications, basements and walls of the residential houses and churches, including the remains of the great basilica located on top of the plateau.
Eski-Kermen was first inhabited in the 6th century AD when Byzantine emperors ordered a mighty fortress to be constructed there for a garrison of the Goths, phoideratoi (allies) of the Empire. Although the fortress of Eski-Kermen was initially subordinated to Mangup-Kale, later on, after the Khazarian expansion, it became the capital of the Crimean Gothia. Eski-Kermen was a flourishing town with dense and complicated system of urban planning. In the end of the 13th century it was ruined by the Mongol khan Nogai army. Eski-Kermen has never revived as a capital city since then, instead turned into a small settlement of religious interest. The settlement was finally abandoned in the late 15th century because of the Ottoman conquest of the northern Black Sea area.
Today the object named “Cultural Landscape of ‘Cave Towns’ of the Crimean Gothia” is managed by the Crimean Republic Institution of Bakhchisaray Historical and Cultural Preserve. It is among the most famous and popular tourist sites in the Crimea. The history of archaeological investigations and conservation works of Mangup-Kale and Eski-Kermen is almost a century long, and the monuments are now open to tourists.
Acces : Coordinates : N44 36 35 E33 44 22 / Eski-Kerman is located twenty kilometers from Bakhchisarai, near the village of Red Poppy. To the Red Poppy from Bakhchisarai walking bus, and then you need to get foot-six miles down a country road to the quarry and farms. Many trains stop in Bakhchisaray when running between Kiev and Sevastopol. Catch a minibus from Simferopol from the Zapadnaya Bus Station (~10uah). Catch an electric train from Simferopol’s train station to Bahkchisaray (30 RUB) (Price as of May 2016). Catch electric trains or minibuses from Sevastopol (~6-12uah) Trains arrive near the central market where local buses (marshrootka) will take you to the Old City and New City if you wait by the “Старый Город” and “Новый город” signs, respectively. Regional buses arrive at Bakhchisaray’s central bus station. Local buses arrive and depart in front of the station where there is similar signage. Both bus and train stations have taxis waiting to take you to your destination as well. Expect to pay ~25uah to get to Hansaray by taxi. Activities : Hiking! , Biking! Rent a bike 12-14 $/day