Balaclava has occupied a place in military history for centuries. During the Crimean War the Battle of Balaclava, which was fought between British and Russian troops, was immortalized by Tennyson in his poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. More recently however visitors to the town have been able to experience and tour an old Soviet Submarine base that was constructed during the Cold War.
This concrete and steel complex, once a testament to the power of the Soviet Union, now stands derelict having been virtually abandoned since 1993. Designed to withstand the direct impact of a nuclear weapon, the base is covered in a 56meter thick layer of concrete, and includes a warren of tunnels and corridors that at one time housed some of the most advanced and destructive weapons of the Cold War.
During this period the entire town was enveloped in a dense cloud of military security with few outsiders permitted to enter the base or the town. Balaclava was cut off from the rest of the world, most of the inhabitants worked on the base and, because of the highly classified nature of their work, were not allowed out of the town. In fact the base could support the entire population of Balaclava (3000 people or so) autonomously for three years in the case of nuclear fall out.
Since the base’s decommissioning in the early nineties visitors have been able to tour through the complex and also visit a small museum which sits in a former ammunition depot buried deep within the hillside. Located on the Black Sea Coast, only six miles or so outside of the city of Sevastopol, the base is not only an interesting tourist attraction but also serves as a reminder of the secrecy and militarism that surrounded the Cold War.