June 20, President of the Russian Geographical Society Sergei Shoigu conducted a guided tour for the press as part of the project “Best guide of Russia". The meeting place was a unique monument of the fortification art - the Konstantinovskaya Battery, recently restored by the Russian Geographical Society.
Konstantinovskaya Battery was built at the very entrance to Sevastopol bay in the XIX century to close the bay from enemy ships. It is located on the northern extremity of the bay of the same name, on the cape Konstantinovsky. The fortress is one of the oldest surviving buildings of Sevastopol. This is one of the main symbols of the city, each stone of which remembers the glorious history of Russian maritime traditions and feats. Since 2014 the Russian Geographical Society has been reconstructing and restoring the fort to adapt the battery for placing exhibitions, a scientific library, and an archive in it. The battery was restored according to ancient drawings provided by the Central archive of the Russian Navy in St. Petersburg. Today, the fortress is a unique open-air museum: there is a historical exhibition, open to the public, in the battery casemates.
Before the event began, President of the Russian Geographical Society Sergei Shoigu and Governor of Sevastopol Dmitry Ovsyannikov laid flowers flowers to the mass grave of the defenders of Sevastopol.
The next point of the route was the observation deck located on the roof of the battery. Here the participants were able to enjoy fantastic panoramic views of the city. From the height of the place you can see the monument to the Flooded ships, the dome of the Vladimir Cathedral (where the honorary member of the Society Admiral Lazarev was buried), and Malakhov hill.
Sergei Shoigu told the reporters how the decision to build this citadel in the Sevastopol Bay was made almost two and a half centuries ago: "240 years ago, in June 1778, people began to build what today is our pride, our history. On the orders of genius Alexander Suvorov, the first earth fortifications were built on this place; they were later rebuilt into powerful defensive structures. Here each stone keeps the memory of the great works of our geographers, researchers and the heroic battles of Russian soldiers. This fortress has survived two enemy defenses", began his story the President of the Russian Geographical Society.
Sergei Shoigu told the journalists the heroic history of the Konstantinovskaya Battery, spoke about the first defense of Sevastopol in the XIX century, about the battles of the Great Patriotic War, when the fortress became a point of protection of the city. In June 1942, the garrison of 70 soldiers repelled enemy attacks for several days.
"The German tanks that broke close to the battery were firing at the defenders with direct fire. In the midst of the battle the commanders of the stronghold received a radiogram of the command of the city defense: "Defenders of the ravelin! Your heroism is necessary for another day..." And the garrison fought for three more days", Sergey Shoigu told.
The tour continued in the battery casemates, where the exhibition halls devoted to the history of the fort, as well as to the activities of the Russian Geographical Society and its members – famous researchers, travelers, and pioneers - are located. During the tour, Sergei Shoigu told about the restoration of the Konstantinovskaya Battery.
"When we took the battery in 2014, the walls of the fort were almost completely destroyed. There were garbage patches inside. It made a depressing impression. We’ve restored the historical appearance of the citadel in full accordance with its original drawings, restored the monument to fallen soldiers, and placed here a permanent exhibition. The total area of the premises is now 4500 meters. This is almost the same as in the Central House of Artists in Moscow", said Sergei Shoigu.
As the tour continued, the journalists saw the rarest exhibits of the first exhibition "Golden Fund of the Russian GeographicalS": the expedition diaries of Nikolay Przhevalsky, Pyotr Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky, Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay, photographs of the mysterious city of Khara-Khoto, discovered during the Mongol-Sichuan expedition of Pyotr Kozlov, manuscript route maps made during the travel of Grigory Grumm-Grzhimaylo to Western Mongolia and Tuva.
"At this exhibition we present the gems of our unique museum and archive collections. Previously, we’ve exhibited them mainly in our headquarters in St. Petersburg, sometimes in Moscow, but most of the items have never been exhibited. In 2018, we decided to change this situation. Following Sevastopol, the exhibitions will be held in trains of the Russian railways, major universities and regional museums across the country," stressed Sergei Shoigu.
Moreover, the journalists visited the halls dedicated to the first and second defense of Sevastopol, and saw historical pictures of Crimea by photographer Vasily Sokolov and works of participants in the Most Beautiful Country photo contest.
At the end of the tour, the journalists thanked Sergei Shoigu for his interesting story.
On the same day Sergei Shoigu gave membership cards of the Russian Geographical Society to head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov, Governor of Sevastopol Dmitry Ovsyannikov, Commander of Aerospace Forces Sergei Surovikin, Commander of the Eastern Military District Alexander Zhuravlev, Commander of the Central Military District Alexander Lapina and Head of the National Control Centre of the Defense of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mizintsev.