Swallow's Nest Castle on the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine

The picturesque "Swallow's Nest" castle in southern Ukraine is like a fairytale castle perched on a prominent rocky outcrop on the Crimean peninsula above the Black Sea and is considered the most popular postcard motif in Crimea.

The Swallow's Nest Castle is located on the southern coast of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine near the city of Yalta. Like a fantastic fairy-tale castle, the snow-white structure rests on a rocky promontory of Ai-Todor Cape directly above the Black Sea and is considered a landmark in the greater Yalta area and the southern coastline of Ukraine.


PICTURES: Swallow's Nest Castle in Crimea


Today's Swallow's Nest actually dates from 1971 and is 20m long and 10m wide. It sits majestically on its rocky outcrop as if to challenge the forces of nature. Its graceful appearance is considered a well-known and popular postcard motif of the Crimean peninsula and is somewhat reminiscent of the German Neuschwanstein Castle or the picturesque Miramare Castle near Trieste.

History of the Swallow's Nest Castle

According to archaeological excavations, the 40m-high rocky outcrop was already inhabited by the Greeks in ancient times and by the Romans in the 1st century AD. Over the years, the prominent rocky outcrop, which was still safe mainland at the time, was home to a Roman defensive structure, a Byzantine monastery, a Russian summer house, then still made of wood, and a spa castle of a Moscow merchant's wife named Rachmanina, from whom the name "Swallow's Nest" also comes. Finally, the castle was bought by the German Baron von Steingel, then an oil millionaire from the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, and was rebuilt again. From this period, the Swallow's Nest received its neo-Gothic style, interestingly mixed with oriental influences, from the Russian architect Leonid Sherwood.

The spectacular cliff on which Swallow's Nest Castle now sits was first created by an earthquake in 1927, Ukraine - © Sergii Votit / Shutterstock
© Sergii Votit / Shutterstock

In 1927, the stone foundation of the decorative little castle was severely damaged by an earthquake (this is what created the present cliff in the first place) and the castle was closed for 40 years for safety reasons. Subsequent restoration work began in 1968 and lasted three years. Today, the Swallow's Nest stands on a cliff secured against earthquakes and in the meantime housed an Italian restaurant, then until today a museum with rather unspectacular antique finds and a small coffee house.

On the road at Swallow's Nest Castle

The compact rooms of the Swallow's Nest are decorated with wooden panels and stucco work and can be visited. From the gallery around the little castle and the platforms there is a magnificent view over the Black Sea and the distant coast of Yalta.

120 steps lead from the main road to the fragile-looking Swallow's Nest Castle on the shore of the Black Sea, Ukraine - © vvoe / Shutterstock
© vvoe / Shutterstock

The Swallow's Nest can be reached by bus or taxi from Yalta. From the main road in Alupka, the fairytale castle can be climbed up 120 steps. The most beautiful photos of the Swallow's Nest can be taken from a 20-minute coastal steamer tour, which also departs from Yalta and docks at the "Golden Beach" pier directly below the Swallow's Nest.