Being a city in southern Russia, Novorossiysk lies on the shore of the Tsemess Bay in the Black Sea.

Novorossiysk is a must-see city for all those who are deeply interested in the history of Russia and the Russian Navy. Let’s start with its history.

Port of Novorossiysk

Port of Novorossiysk

The short history of Novorossiysk

Novorossiysk is favorably located in the Tsemess Bay.

Archaeologists have explored the Abrau Peninsula in the outskirts of Novorossiysk and have found remnants of the ancient settlement Myshako, dated back to the Eneolithic Period – the Early Bronze Age.

Dolmen complex in Novorossiysk

Later, in the Bronze Age (6000 years ago), people living there started to erect amazing constructions – dolmens. Most of them were built between 3000 and 2000 years B.C.

Dolmens were used as megalithic tombs. In fact, these massive boxes with holes were made from several stone slabs. In the past, people thought they served as houses for ancient giants.

The best preserved dolmens are the ones on the right bank of the Ozereika River in the outskirts of Novorossiysk.

Burials of other tribes, nomads, were also created 6000 years ago in the form of grave-mounds.

In the Hellenistic Period other tribes, including the Sindi, Cercetae and Toretae, inhabited this region.

Then the outskirts of Novorossiysk became a part of the Bosporan Kingdom.

The Migration Period also left an imprint on the Abrau Peninsula. The German tribes (Goths), Huns and Bulgarians were the first ones, and then the Khazars followed their suit.

This territory was also greatly influenced by Early Byzantine Christianity and Italian Genoa.

In 1475, the Italians were pushed out of these territories by the Turks. The latter had built there their fortress Sudjuk Kale, which was later destroyed by the Russian army.

Finally, in 1838, Russians founded there Novorossiysk.

The Embankment in Novorossiysk

The Embankment in Novorossiysk

Malaya Zemlya

The city acquired an honorary status during World War II. The Nazis were trying to get to Caucasus and capture major oil reserves of the USSR. In September 1942 Novorossiysk was occupied but not completely. Its naval base was transferred to Gelendzhik. In 1943, sailors landed on beachheads not far from Novorossiysk: Malaya Zemlya (this place got its unofficial name back in 1943) and Southern Ozereika.

Being a part of the first offensive phase, this landing operation was a failure. The Nazis were supposed to throw the Soviet troops to the sea but they could not do it. What is the reason? It is still unknown how two hundreds of sailors managed to hold the Nazis off at gunpoint half a year until Novorossiysk was liberated in September 1943.

Later the name “Malaya Zemlya” became connected with numerous anecdotes. Being a Party official, the future General Secretary of the USSR Leonid Brezhnev spent two days on Malaya Zemlya. Then the Soviet ideologists turned these two short days into a heroic myth as if Leonid Brezhnev was a great military commander. This exaggeration found its way into many anecdotes, which were popular among the Soviet people.

Today Russians do not remember these anecdotes.

These days Novorossiysk is a city of many monuments, which commemorate heroic defenders of the city.

The unit of Major Glovatskyi is preparing for a landing operation

The unit of Major Glovatskyi is preparing for a landing operation / K. Krumskyi / The newspaper “Boets RKKA” as of 26 October 1943

Things to see in Novorossiysk

Apart from dolmens and the remnants of the settlement Myshako, Novorossiysk is also famous for its sparkling wines producer “Abrau-Dyurso”. The winery is situated on Lake Abrau near the Black Sea. Novorossiysk naval base is another point of interest (there you can visit a gun cruiser).

The Tsemess Bay

The Tsemess Bay


The mansion Abrau-Dyurso is located on Lake Abrau. This place is famous for producing sparkling wines, the so-called “Russian champagne”, which is popular throughout Russia. However, the production of sparkling wines in Russia started with the help of the Frenchman Victor Dravigny. Some Abrau-Dyurso wines have been honored with international awards.

It is a wonderful place to admire the beautiful lake and learn more about wine-making traditions in Russia.

Novorossiysk naval base

Its favorable location in the Tsemess Bay is one of the reasons why Novorossiysk was turned into a naval base.

Being a basing site of the Black Sea Fleet, Novorossiysk naval base had been operating since 1920 to 1947. When the USSR collapsed, naval bases on the Black Sea were given to Georgia and Ukraine. Since 1995 Novorossiysk naval base has been a home station for the Black Sea Fleet.

Special attention should be paid to the gun cruiser “Mikhail Kutuzov”. Project 68-bis had been under development since 1944. These cruisers are listed in top 10 battle ships of the 20th century. Nowadays the cruiser works as a museum ship. When you get aboard, you will definitely feel rich and complicated history of this cruiser.

The gun cruiser and museum ship “Mikhail Kutuzov”

The gun cruiser and museum ship “Mikhail Kutuzov”

Some parts of this article are based on scientific works written by representatives of Russian research centers.

Photos by Anton Cherniak

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