From Balaclava Battlefield and the eye-opening Siege of Sevastopol Museum to the absorbing Florence Nightingale Museum the historical sites from the Crimean War are absolutely captivating places to discover. If you’re planning a trip to explore Crimean War sites and museums but are short on time, then these famous places are probably your best bet. But if you do have a more flexible itinerary then at the very least the Haidar Pasha Cemetery, the Edwin Fox and Suomenlinna Fortress should all be on your list. Here are the top things to see and do while exploring the landmarks and monuments from the Crimean War.
What are the Top Sites from the Crimean War to Visit?
The Balaclava Battlefield was the site of a major battle of the Crimean War and one of the most famous incidents in British military history. In 1854, Britain, France and Turkey were attempting to capture the port of Sevastopol, a Russian naval base, and had established camps nearby. On 25 October 1854, the Russians attacked Balaclava, which was being used as the British base south of Sevastopol. The ensuing clash, known as the Battle of Balaclava, ended when the British Light Brigade charged into the “Valley of Death”, the area between the Causeway Heights and the Fedyukhin Heights. This dramatic incident is now known as the “Charge of the Light Brigade” and ended in significant losses for the British. It was immortalised in a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Today, the Balaclava Battlefield is mostly made up of vineyards, however the town of Balaclava has many monuments to the battle. There are also the remains of a Genoese fortress in the town.
The Siege of Sevastopol Museum, also known as the Sevastopol Panorama, is a museum which chronicles the siege of the port of Sevastopol by British, French and Turkish forces against the Russians during the Crimean War. The Siege of Sevastopol began in September 1854, lasted eleven months and ended in the retreat of the Russians and their ultimate defeat in the Crimean War. The Siege of Sevastopol Museum uses a diorama to portray the events of the siege and does have some signs in English.
The Florence Nightingale Museum in Üsküdar in Istanbul is located in the Selimiye Barracks, the Turkish army barracks which served as a British military base and hospital from 1854 to 1856, during the Crimean War. It was at the Selimiye Barracks, then known as the Scutari Barracks, that the English nurse Florence Nightingale achieved fame as a pioneer of the medical profession and earned her nickname as the “Lady of the Lamp”. At its peak, the Selimiye Barracks had 5,000 patients. Nightingale discerned that the dire conditions at the hospital were responsible for a great number of them dying needlessly and successfully petitioned for vast improvements. Whilst small, the Florence Nightingale Museum does give an insight into the woman who transformed the living conditions and mortality rates of Crimean War soldiers. Visitors to the Florence Nightingale Museum can see her original desk in the place where she worked together with some letters and equipment. It is worth noting however that the lamp on the desk is not proven to be the one she famously used on her night rounds.
The Haidar Pasha Cemetery near Istanbul, Turkey was the burial site of approximately 6,000 soldiers who died during the Crimean War at the Selimiye Barracks, a then British military base and hospital. It is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Conditions at the Selimiye Barracks were terrible at the beginning of the war until the British nurse Florence Nightingale famously transformed them and dramatically improved soldiers’ mortality rates. As such, many soldiers died of preventable diseases such as cholera. Most of the Haidar Pasha Cemetery Crimean graves are unmarked. There are also First and Second World War Turkish graves as well as those of civilians. The Haidar Pasha Cemetery includes a memorial to Nightingale as well as to those who died at the Selimiye Barracks hospital during the Crimean War.
The Edwin Fox was a Victorian sailing ship which is today partially preserved and displayed in a dry dock in the town of Picton. It is proudly proclaimed as ‘the ninth oldest ship in the world’. The Edwin Fox was first commissioned as a trader, but was soon being used as a troopship carrying soldiers and some civilians to the Crimean War.
Suomenlinna Fortress is an impressive 18th century maritime fortification complex spread over eight islands in Helsinki and which has been property of the Swedish, the Russians and the Finnish. In the run up to the Crimean War, the fort was under Russian control and was expanded and garrisoned. However, over time, large parts of it fell into disrepair. In August 1855, British and French forces undertook a three day bombardment of Suomenlinna Fortress, ending in a stalemate. Today, this is a fascinating place to visit and a popular one, with various things to see including a series of museums.
Bomarsund Fortress (Bomarsunds fastningsruiner) is a ruined 19th century fortress in Aland which was destroyed during the Crimean War.
Constructed from 1832 to 1854, Bomarsund Fortress was built at a time when Aland was part of Russian territory. Intended to have fourteen towers, only three of them were erected before Bomarsund Fortress faced its destruction. This occurred in the 1854 Battle of Bomarsund as part of the Crimean War and saw joint British and French forces take Bomarsund Fortress from the Russians after a week, devastating it in the process and taking 300 Finnish grenadiers prisoner.
The whole of Aland was declared a demilitarised zone in 1856, a status which remains to this day. Visitors to Bomarsund Fortress can see its pretty ruins. There’s also a modest nearby museum about the site (next to Prasto Bridge). This site also features as one of our top Visitor Attractions in Finland.