Kerch Fortress (or “Fort Totleben”, named so after its creator Eduard Totleben) is the only one completely surviving fortress in Ukraine. Kerch Fortress is considered to be a classic pattern of military engineering. Totleben created his piece of fortification art in the 19th century.
Defeat in the Crimean War made Emperor Alexander II determined about construction of a new fortress on cape Ak-Burun in the Strait of Kerch. Kerch Fortress or Fort Totleben is considered as classics of military engineering. Construction of a new fortress began in 1857 on that very place where Pavlov battery once had been.
The latest achievements of the 17th -19th cc. military fortification engineering were used while constructing the fortress. According to the design of 1860, Kerch Fortress was armed with 587 guns, powder cellar allowed to store 22 thousand poods (pood is a Russian weight measurement unit equal to 36.11 pounds) of gunpowder. The garrison numbered 5235 soldiers with 1860 artillery crew among them. The whole front line of Kerch Fortress can be divided into the following sub-units: Fort Totleben, several bastions, ravelin, Minsk and Vilennsk lunettes, Lithuanian battery, Ak-Burun earthworks, caponiers, retreat cover reduit, mortar and coastal batteries etc.
Creators of Fort Kerch managed to make it fully concealed: all stone constructions are masked with earth. If one doesn’t know that there is a fortress on the cape, one will never notice it as part of city scenery. Retrenchment of Fort Totleben is located on the most elevated site of the Kerch peninsula (110 m.), from where a panorama of Kerch city and Russian shores can be observed. This place once even featured a ‘pigeon station’ – special signaling unit, which used correspondingly trained pigeons as means of communication between troops.
On 16 November 1920, it was only after the fall of Kerch Fortress that Mikhail Frunze wired about the end of the Civil War. Before the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, Kerch Fortress together with naval battery No. 29-BIS (near Lake Tobechik) became one of coastal defense outposts at the Black Sea shores. New batteries were being constructed in the Kerch Fort. During the Great Patriotic War, the fortress was repeatedly mined, but it was never blown up, and due to that fact we, descendants of great military commanders, are able to inspect this striking and outstanding work of defensive engineering. During the decades after the Great Patriotic War, the Kerch Fortress served as a huge arsenal, and its ravelin was used as barracks for disciplinary battalion of the Black Sea Fleet – one of the strictest military brigs in the USSR.
You can get to Kerch Fortress starting from Kerch bus station by mini-bus route No. 6 and then walking for another 30 minutes.