Hersones Tavricheskiy (Korsun in Ukrainian) is a unique archeological, historical and cultural site. It includes territory of ancient and medieval Chersonesos. The city was established by Greeks in 5 th century B.C. and existed for more than 2000 years. Now it is within the city limits of Sevastopol on Crimea (Taurica, Tavrida or Krym), from 1954 formally belonging to Ukraine. Prior to it Crimea was administrative unit of Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Russian Federation with Soviet Union.
The name “Chersonesos” in Greek means simply “peninsula”, thus describing the site on which the colony was established. It has been nicknamed the “Ukrainian Pompeii” and “Russian Troy”. During much of the classical period the town was a democracy ruled by a group of elected archons and a council. In the late 2nd century BC Chersonesos became a dependency of the Bosporan Kingdom. It was subject to Rome from the middle of the 1st century BC until the 370s AD when it was captured by the Huns. It became a Byzantine possession during the early Middle Ages. According to Theophanes Chersonesos was the residence of a Khazar tudun in the late 600s.
Among its more famous “inmates” were Popes Clement I and Martin I and the deposed Byzantine Emperor Justinian II.
Chersonesos remained in Byzantine hands until the 980s when it fell to Kiev. Vladimir the Great of Ukrainian Rus’ agreed to evacuate the fortress only if Basil II’s sister Anna Porphyrogeneta would be given him in marriage. The demand caused a scandal in Constantinople, as imperial princesses had never been married to non-Greeks before. As a pre-condition for the marriage settlement Vladimir was baptized in Korsun in 988, thus paving the way to the Baptism of Kievan Rus’. Thereafter Ukrainian troops left Korsun. The city fell under Genoese control in the early 1300s. In 1299 Korsun was sacked by the armies of Nogai Khan. A century later it was destroyed by Edigu and was permanently abandoned.
Korsun’ ancient ruins were excavated by the state starting from 1827. They are today a popular tourist attraction, protected by the state as an archaeological park with patterns of ancient and Byzantine culture which were found during archeological excavations. There are ruins of fortress walls, streets and houses, palaces and temples with unique mosaic floor, ruins of the ancient theatre – the only one left in the former Soviet Union. In 1996 Hersones was enlisted into the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.