About Balaklava Battlefield
The Balaklava Battlefield was the site of a major battle of the Crimean War and one of the most famous incidents in British military history.
History of the Balaklava Battlefield
The Crimean War was fought between 1853 and 1856, ostensibly to preserve the rights of Christian minority communities in the Holy Land (which was then part of the Ottoman Empire). In 1854, Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire were attempting to capture the port of Sevastopol, a Russian naval base, and had established camps nearby as part of the Crimean War. They were besieging Sevastopol, but their siege lines were weak: the Russian plan was to break these siege lines and recapture the port of Balaklava.
Russian forces attacked Balaklava on 25 October 1854, in what became known as the Battle of Balaklava. Famously – or perhaps infamously – the battle 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.
Despite its fame, the Battle of Balaklava ended in something of a military stalemate, with roughly equal losses on both sides. This defeat also set the stage for a much bloodier subsequent battle – the Battle of Inkerman.
Balaklava Battlefield today
Today, the Balaclava Battlefield is mostly made up of vineyards, however the town of Balaklava has many monuments to the battle. There are also the remains of a Genoese fortress in the town.
Several tour companies run specific Crimean battlefield day trips and tours in the area: without one of these, you’ll need to do some serious research and use your imagination to come anywhere close to imagining what the battle would have actually been like. The town of Balaklava has a museum dedicated to its history, including some material on the battle.
Getting to Balaklava Battlefield
Balaklava itself is a small settlement on the Crimean Peninsula, not far from the city of Sevastopol. The actual battlefield is located slightly north of town, just off the Krestovs’koho St. Wear good shoes to reach the actual sight!
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