Simferopol (official) or Symferopil (alternate Ukrainian version) [Сімферополь or Симферопіль; Simferopol' or Symferopil']. See Google Map, see EU map: IX-15. A city (2013 pop 337,285, 2022 pop 340,000) on the Salhyr River, within the foothills zone of the Crimean Mountains and the geographic center of the Crimea; capital of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea within Ukraine and administrative center of the surrounding Simferopol raion; transportation center of the Crimea by road, rail and air; educational and cultural center of the Crimea. Since the Russian annexation in 2014, unrecognized by most countries, it serves as the capital of the Republic of Crimea, a subject of the Russian Federation. Greater Simferopol, which includes to the north the cluster of towns (smt) of Aeroflotskyi (2013 pop 2,325), Ahrarne (6,034), Hresivskyi (11,391), Komsomolske (4,869) and the rural village Bitumne (171), had in 2013 a total of 362,075 residents.
History. The vicinity has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Period. The Scythian capital of Neapolis (3rd century BC–4th century AD) occupied the southeastern part of present-day Simferopol. By the early 16th century the Tatar stronghold of Kermenchyk (in Tatar ‘little fortification’, believed to be a remnant of the Scythian Neapolis) and 1 km NW of it a settlement of Ak-Mechet (in Tatar ‘White Mosque’) had been established (1508) at the site. By the end of the 16th century it hosted the residence of Kalga Sultan and acquired a second name—Sultan Sarai. By the second half of the 17th century the city had 5 mosques, 2 madrasas, 3 inns, and 200 trading stalls. In the Russo-Turkish War of 1735–9, the city was burned by the Russian army in 1736; its residents re-built it. After the Crimean Khanate was wrestled away by Russia from its dependency on the Ottoman Empire (1771—83), Ak-Mechet served as a provincial center (kaimakamlyk), overseen by the Imperial Russian military encampment (commanded in 1771 by Prince V. Dolgorukov and in 1777 by Gen. A. Suvorov).
After annexing the Crimea in 1783, Catherine II set up alongside Ak-Mechet the fortified town of Simferopol (from the Greek, City of Goodness/Usefulness) as the capital of Tavriia oblast. Briefly, after the liquidation of Tavria oblast in 1796, the name reverted to Ak-Mechet (as an administrative center of a district); however, with the establishment of Tavriia gubernia in 1802, the city regained its capital function and the imperial name, Simferopol (though locally, Ak-Mechet continued to be used). Two parts of the city emerged: the old Tatar Ak-Mechet with circuitous streets and the New European city with a regular grid pattern. The latter also encroached on the former, destroying some finest Crimean architecture; in 1833, for example, a mosque and baths were destroyed to enlarge a square for Russian military parade grounds. During the Crimean War (1853–56) it served as the rear base for the Imperial Russian forces, with hospitals for the wounded. Many Crimean Tatars sympathetic to the Turks departed for the Ottoman Empire.
The town developed slowly as a trading and manufacturing center. In the early 19th century it held two annual fairs. Its tobacco, brick, and lime factories and flour mills supplied the local demand. Its population increased from 7,000 in 1836 to 17,000 in 1864. The first Russian school was opened in 1793, and a secondary school, by 1812. An amateur theater was formed in the 1820s, a printing press was set up in 1830, and the Tavriia gubernia newspaper began to come out in 1838.
The opening of the Kharkiv–Sevastopol railway line in 1874 ushered in rapid industrial growth. The city’s population had increased to 38,000 by 1887, 49,000 by 1897, and 91,000 by 1914. New fruit- and vegetable-canning factories, a confectionery factory, two tobacco-processing factories, several steam flour mills, and a farming implements foundry were opened. The city expanded to the other bank of the river, where a fine residential district was developed. In the absence of a safe water supply and sewage system epidemics were frequent. A number of learned societies were established: the Tavriia Learned Archival Commission (1887) with a museum of antiquities and a library, and a natural history museum set up by the gubernia’s zemstvo (1889). By 1914 Simferopol’s population attained 91,500, surpassing that of Sevastopol. A military aircraft factory, based on French design, was established here in 1914 (by the Odesa banker, Artur Anatra) for the Russian war effort, entering production in 1915.
The 1897 census confirmed the city had become a predominantly Russian-speaking city: of the 49,000 inhabitants, 45.7 percent spoke Russian, 19.7 percent Tatar (17.6 percent were of Moslem faith and 1.4 percent Karaites), 15.9 percent Yiddish (18.2 percent were of Jewish faith, of which about 1 percent were Krymchaks), 6.9 percent spoke Ukrainian, 3.0 percent Polish and 1.7 percent Greek. The Jewish community comprised the Mitnagdim, Hasidim, Reform Jews from Germany, and the originally Crimean Tatar-speaking Krymchaks. Together, they numbered about 9,000, of which a quarter consisted of small merchants and craftsmen in tobacco processing, printing, and other trades. It had 9 synagogues, a community hospital, a hostel, two talmudei torah, 2 private schools, a vocational school for girls, and a public library. In October 1905 pogroms broke out in the city, 140 stores belonging to the Jews were destroyed and 42 Jews were killed. During the First World War and the Civil War years many Jews who fled or were expelled from the battle regions or who otherwise escaped the riotous bands found refuge in Simferopol. The city became an important Zionist center for helping emigrants to Palestine.
Other ethnic groups had their own churches: the Armenians, the Germans, the Poles, and the Greeks. The Crimean Tatars had a dozen mosques and several madrasas. Ukrainians attended Russian churches or schools. Of the 6,314 inhabitants of the city who were born in purely Ukrainian gubernias and another 1,936 in mixed regions, only 3,399 persons spoke Ukrainian. Even so, there was an amateur theater group that staged Ukrainian plays in the city. During the liberalization of 1905–6, the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries formed a group in Simferopol. The newspaper Tavrichanin also began to publish a section for Ukrainians with articles in Ukrainian.
The Revolution of 1917 stimulated the awakening of Ukrainian self-consciousness in the Crimea; some wished to see the Crimea become part of nascent Ukraine. In Simferopol the Ukrainian community was led by the gymnasium instructor, Klymenko. On 24 May 1917 the commemoration of Ukraine’s Bard, Taras Shevchenko, attracted 15,000 attendees from Simferopol, Sevastopol, and Teodosiia. That day, 10,000 soldiers of the 30,000 men garrison in Simferopol formed a separate Ukrainian Simferopol Regiment named after Hetman Petro Doroshenko, occupied a separate structure, and displayed the blue and yellow flag. Simferopol also became home of the Ukrainian publisher Atos and had 3 Ukrainians elected to its city council.
Following the 1917 Bolshevik coup in Petrograd (see October Revolution of 1917), government was contested by several groups in Simferopol. The Crimean Provincial Assembly, established in November 1917 with representatives from various groups, intended to retain the Crimea within the Russian Empire; the Crimean Tatar National Directorate (est. 25 December 1917) demanded an independent Crimea. Following the Bolshevik seizure of Sevastopol and their occupation of the Crimea, Simferopol became the seat of the terrorizing Soviet Socialist Republic of Tavrida (3 April 1918), soon liberated by the Crimean Group of the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic (24 April 1918), followed by the German military. The German forces, however, installed General Suleiman Sulkevich (also spelled Sulkiewicz, a former tsarist general descended from a Lithuanian Tatar) to lead their preferred Crimean Provincial Government in Simferopol (5 June 1918); it closed pro-Ukrainian newspapers there. After the departure of German forces, the Crimea fell to the right-wing Russian forces under General Anton Denikin supported by the expeditionary forces of the Allied Powers; Sulkevich, having fled to Azerbaijan, left his former finance minister, Solomon Samuilovich Krym (of Crimean Karaite origin, formerly elected Crimean deputy of the Constitutional Democratic (kadet) party) to lead, under Denikin, the Crimean Provincial Government (16 November 1918–April 1919) in Simferopol. The city was briefly seized by the Bolsheviks (April 1919) and then re-taken by the right-wing Russian Volunteer Army, becoming part of General Petr Wrangel’s base of operations (from 4 April) until his evacuation (14 November 1920) when it was re-taken by the Red Army under the command of Mikhail Frunze.
In 1921 Simferopol became the capital of the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In the 1921 census, all Ukrainians were counted as Russians; no Ukrainian schools were allowed. The city became a center for establishing Jewish rural communes in the Crimea. According to the 1926 census, the city’s population recovered to 88,000, of whom 45.6 percent were Russian, 23.5 percent, Jewish, 12.6 percent, Crimean Tatar, and 8.3 percent Ukrainian. A Jewish vocational school and several Yiddish elementary schools as well as some Crimean Tatar schools and a pedagogical institute (since 1924 in Simferopol until closed in 1931) operated in the city. Coinciding with the rise of the new (1927–33) People's Commissar of Education of the Ukrainian SSR, Mykola Skrypnyk, a Ukrainian-language high school, a Ukrainian club, and a library were opened in Simferopol in 1927. After the city’s water supply was improved (the construction of the Ayanske Reservior in 1928, on a small branch upstream of the Salhyr River), the city’s population grew to 142,600 by 1939.
During the Second World War the German settlers in the Crimea were preemptively removed to the eastern regions of the USSR (August 1941). After Nazi German forces captured Simferopol (1 November 1941), the Sonderkommando 11b sought out remaining Jews and started executions; by December 13, 1941, they had murdered more than 10,000 Jews, about 2,500 Krymchaks, and many Gypsies. During German occupation, two clandestine OUN expeditionary groups—one of OUN (Melnyk faction) and one of OUN (Bandera faction)—reached Simferopol. The latter, led by Stepan Tesla, established a bureau to assist Ukrainian population with identity papers and then a Ukrainian National Committee which helped form the Ukrainian consumers’ co-operative, a bandurist troupe which spawned a Ukrainian drama theater and a Ukrainian school. An attack on Gestapo in Dzhankoi in 1943, however, triggered reprisals and repression of Ukrainians. After the Red Army re-took the Crimea (end of April 1944), the Crimean Tatars were unjustly accused of mass collaboration and forcibly deported (18–20 May 1944), along with other minorities (Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians, and Karaites). Thus ethnically cleansed, Simferopol became the capital of the re-named Crimea oblast. Of the city’s reconstituted population of 186,167 by 1959, only two ethnic groups remained numerous: Russian, 70 percent, and Ukrainian, 20 percent; the number of Jews now comprised only 6.2 percent and there were no Crimean Tatars.
To speed up post-war recovery and economic-industrial development, the Crimea was transferred in 1954 from the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In Simferopol this initiated the short-lived existence of the Ukrainian-language newspaper Radians’kyi Krym (Soviet Crimea, 1955–59) and a Ukrainian-language school. In 1955 a Ukrainian music-drama troupe was dispatched to Simferopol, and in 1977 received a new concert hall, the Crimean Academic Ukrainian Music Theater. A major movie theater and a park were named after Taras Shevchenko, the central library was named after Ivan Franko, and a hotel (built in the 1950s) was named Ukraina. A major transformative factor for the city at the time was the construction of the Simferopol Water Reservoir (1954–56, on the Salhyr River), which improved its water supply; the Partyzanske Water Reservoir (1966, on the Alma River) assured further growth. Transportation was enhanced with the construction of its airport (1957) and the completion of a trolley route to Alushta (1959) and extended to Yalta (1961). Newly built industrial plants (machine-building, food processing and other industries) provided employment. The city’s population grew from 159,000 in 1956 to 186,000 in 1959, 249,000 in 1970, 302,000 in 1979, reaching 314,000 in 1981 (when Sevastopol surpassed it with 315,000) and 344,000 in 1989 (by then Sevastopol reached 356,000).
With the demise of the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s growing sovereignty, the Crimea first regained the status of the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (1991) and then, with Ukraine’s independence, Autonomous Republic of Crimea (1992). The pro-Russian authorities entrenched in Simferopol, however, declared it the Republic of Crimea, only accepting ‘Autonomous’ under pressure from Kyiv in 1998. Freedom of religion placed the Russian Orthodox Church (re-named the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate [1990–2022]) in undisputed dominance; it established three eparchies in the Crimea (in 1917 there was only one) and its metropolitanate in Simferopol, with 12 churches and 3 cathedrals in the city: Alexandro-Nevskii (built 1823–29, closed 1922, demolished 1930, decision to re-build 1999, re-built 2003–22), SS Peter and Paul (built 1866–70, closed 1920s, turned into warehouse 1930s, restored in 1990s, assumed role of metropolitan cathedral 2008–22), and Holy Trinity (built 1868, closed 1933 for conversion to orphanage, but due to protests from Greek parishioners, re-opened in 1934 and served as metropolitan cathedral, 1920s–2008).
When the Crimean Tatars returned to their homeland, they established in Simferopol their own executive commission (Mejlis), a national theatre, a symphony orchestra, a university, a television channel and a radio station, and published a four-volume history of the Crimean Tatar nation. They restored or built six mosques in Simferopol, including 1) the Kebir Cami (pronounced Kebir Jami, originally built in 1508, seat of their chief mufti, closed in Soviet period and used as workshop, returned to Crimean Tatars in 1989, restored 1991–94, to house a religious school, library and seat of the mufti of the Crimea), and 2) the Seit Settar Chelebi Mosque (named after the mayor of Simferopol and Crimean Tatar businessman, who funded its construction in 1849, the Bolsheviks stopped its functioning in 1929, closed it in 1936, restored and functioned under German occupation 1943–44, but converted to electric shop after the deportation of Crimean Tatars, restored after their return in 1992); 3) the new Simferopol Synodal Mosque (in Crimean Tatar, Büyük Cuma Camisi, had land allocated on Yalta Highway in 2004, but various issues delayed its construction), built 2015–21, resembling the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul.
Other faiths also opened up their houses of prayer. These included the Karaite Kenassa (built in 1891–96, closed and converted into a radio station in 1931, re-opened 1942–44, re-purposed as TV center after the Second World War, after new TV center built, re-opened in 2012), the Jewish Reformist Synagogue Ner Tomid (built in 1893–94, registered with NKVD in 1922, seized and re-purposed in 1930, re-claimed in 1992–95), the Roman Catholic Dormition Church, and other faiths, like the Seventh Day Adventists.
Ukrainian cultural and religious activities also revived. The Ukrainian-language newspaper, Kryms’ka svitlytsia began publishing on 31 December 1992; sponsored by the All-Ukrainian ‘Prosvita’ Society and the Crimean center of business and cultural cooperation Ukrainskyi dim, its editor-in-chief was Andrii Shchekun. By 1997 in Simferopol there was a Ukrainian state music and drama theater, several amateur groups, one prestigious Ukrainian secondary school (the Simferopol gymnasium № 9, established by local enthusiasts in 1997), and a local chapter of the Shevchenko Scientific Society. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate overcame resistance from authorities to establish its Crimean eparchy in 1996 with a leased building for its Cathedral of SS Volodymyr and Olha in Simferopol. The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church opened its educational institution there. The Ukrainian Catholic church established (2003) its Odesa-Crimea exarchate with its Saint Josaphat Church in Simferopol. The Roman Catholic Diocese Odesa-Simferopol opened its Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Odesa, with a church but no co-cathedral in Simferopol. The Baptists established their Simferopol Baptist Church; the Evangelical Christian Baptists did the same, as did the German Evangelical Lutherans and the Word of Life Christian Church.
Private business entered the service sector; thuggish privatization of state enterprises began. Economic stagnation and aging population resulted in the slow-down of growth and then a decline in the city’s population: from 353,000 in 1991 to 357,000 in 1992, peaking at 358,000 in 1993, and then declining to 352,000 in 1995, 343,000 in 2001 and 342,000 in 2005, reaching 336,000 in 2011 and then reviving to 338,000 by the beginning of 2014. The return of the Crimean Tatars was also reflected in the make-up of the Greater Simferopol’s population of 358,230 in 2001 (in percent): Russians 238,938 (66.7), Ukrainians 76,147 (21.3), Crimean Tatars 25,209 (7.0), Belarusians 4,102 (1.1), Jews 2,371 (0.7), Armenians 2,130 (0.6), Tatars 1,339 (0.4), Azeri 1,014 (0.3), Poles 717 (0.2), Greeks 619 (0.2), Moldavians 561 (0.1), and others 5,015 (1.4).
Following the annexation of the Crimea by the Russian Federation, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar parties and organizations in Simferopol were generally limited or curtailed in their ability to continue functioning; some of their local leaders and activists were subjected to violence, threats of violence, detention, or expulsion from the Crimea. Ukrainian military loyal to Ukraine were held captive until released to leave; some who opposed the occupation (notably artists, academics or journalists) left for Kyiv. The resident population of Simferopol initially dropped to 332,317 (census of 14 October 2014) or 332,600 by 1 January 2015. The number increased following an influx from the Russian Federation to 341,800 by 2018, dipping to about 340,000 in 2022. According to the 2014 census, the ethnic composition of the city’s population of 332,317 was as follows (in percent): Russians (67.8), Ukrainians (12.1), Crimean Tatars (8.3), Tatars (1.5), Armenians (.78), Belarusians (.77), Jews (.38), Azeri (.29), Greeks (.17), Uzbeks (.16), Poles (.13), Koreans (.12), Moldavians (.11), others (1.48) and non-declared (5.97). Since the 2001 census, there was a decline in the share of Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars, Belarusians, Jews, and Poles (perhaps some preferred not to answer the ethnicity question), but the share of Russians, Tatars (from the Russian Federation), Uzbeks, and Koreans increased.
Broadcast and press media for ethnic minorities were significantly reduced. In March 2014 the new Crimean authorities shut down all Ukrainian television channels, re-allocating their air waves to Russian state television. Ukrainian press was extinguished and on the First Crimean Channel only one program in the Ukrainian language was still broadcast in 2015, where previously there were four. The Crimean Tatar television station ATR (Autonomous TV and Radio Broadcasting Organization), which had a large audience among the Crimean Tatar population, was forced to shut down (end of March 2015). The Crimean Tatar newspaper, Golos Kryma (in the Russian language), was allowed to continue, whereas the popular Avdet (in Crimean Tatar, serving as voice of the outlawed  Mejlis) and others, as well as the website ‘Crimean News Agency,’ were not.
Street signage, a visible expression in the landscape, also changed. Multilingual signs, Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian signs were changed to Russian. The tri-lingual sign on the Crimean Parliament in Simferopol was replaced, immediately after the referendum, with a single sign in Russian. After much pressure from Crimean Tatar leaders, the trilingual signage on the parliament was re-installed by the end of January 2015.
The language policy in education, though officially multilingual, in practice favored Russian. In Simferopol the Simferopol Ukrainian Gymnasium no. 9 was re-named Simferopol Academic Gymnasium and the Ivan Franko School was also re-named, with instruction now in Russian. The Faculty of Ukrainian Philology at V. Vernadsky Tavriia National University (renamed the V. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University) was closed and its three former departments (Ukrainian linguistics; culture of the Ukrainian language; and theory and history of Ukrainian literature) were amalgamated into the Faculty of Slavic Philology and Journalism. The Department of Crimean Tatar Literature at that university was merged with the Department of Crimean Tatar Philology and underwent severe reductions in its academic staff. The decision to close down departments was explained by falling enrolments and lack of interest.
Religious institutions were also impacted. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church, united into the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (2018), were closed down by non-renewals of their leases on their buildings, while the Ukrainian Catholic church, to remain in Crimea, changed its name to Byzantine Catholic Church.
Economy. Simferopol’s initial function was administration; food processing gained importance in the late 19th century. In the 20th century it developed into the Crimea’s prime transportation, manufacturing, cultural and educational center. Simferopol possesses the Crimea’s main commercial airport and is the hub for highways (with inter-city bus terminal and trolleybus service) and rail transportation (major passenger station). It funnels overland access to the southern coastal cities of Alushta, Yalta, and Alupka and to Bakhchysarai and Sevastopol.
Simferopol is the headquarters of Chornomornaftohaz (in Russian, Chernomorneftegaz). Established in 1979 by the Ministry of Gas Industry of the USSR to explore and develop hydrocarbon deposits in the Crimea and offshore, after 1991 it became part of Naftohaz Ukrainy and was registered as a corporate entity in 1998. In 2014, the Crimean Republic nationalized it, subordinated to its Ministry of Fuel and Energy. Simferopol also has several business centers, established when the Crimea was part of independent Ukraine.
Simferopol’s 70 enterprises produced in 1991 one-quarter of the Crimea’s industrial output. Its machine-building and metal-working plants produce television sets (Foton), food-processing equipment and cans (Krymprodmash), farm-machine parts (Silhospdetal, Pnevmatika), electric motors (Elektromashbud) and electronics and ship guidance systems (Fiolent). The chemical industry produces plastic products, like polypropylene pipes (Sizakor) and household chemicals. Its food industry includes two fruit and vegetable canning plants, the oil-manufacturing consortium Efiroliia, grain-milling, macaroni and confectionery plants, the large brewery (Krym), the cognac and vodka distillery (Krymskaia vodochnaia kompaniia), a winery and a tobacco-curing complex, as well as the processing of dairy and meat products. Its light industry manufactures leather goods, footwear, clothing (the UTOG sewing plant), and knitwear. Building materials are supplied by the associations Krymbudmaterialy and Krymnerudprom. The power to run the industries is supplied by the Simferopol Thermoelectric Station (built in the 1960s at Komsomolske, 70 MWt, expanded to 92 MWt after 1991) and greatly augmented in 2019 by the new gas-turbine Tavrida Thermoelectric Station (4.5 km ESE of Simferopol, near Denysivka, rated at 470MWt).
Education. Simferopol is the leading educational and cultural center of the Crimea. The city supports 12 specialized secondary schools and 13 vocational schools and colleges. Higher education is provided by one leading, one smaller and six small universities or branches. 1) The V. Vernadsky Tavriia National University spawned three other specialized institutes/universities which, after 2014, were re-amalgamated into its parent institution. Established in 1918 as the Tavriia University, it drew on some faculty who fled from Bolshevik invasion of Kyiv, including the Academician Volodymyr Vernadsky, where he served as its rector in 1920–21; re-named the Frunze Crimean University in 1921; in 1925 it was re-named the Frunze Crimean State Pedagogical Institute, then in 1972 the Frunze Simferopol State University. In the Soviet period it spawned a) the agricultural institute , b) the pedagogical institute , and c) the medical institute . During Ukraine’s independence, the institutes were re-named universities [eg. the Crimean State Agrarian University in 1997, re-named the Crimean Agro-technological University in 2003; the Crimean State Medical University named after S. Georgievsky, in 1998]. In 1999, the Simferopol State University was granted the national university status and renamed the V. Vernadsky Tavriia National University; in 2014, under Russian occupation, the daughter institutions and branch campuses in other cities of the Crimea were merged into one, and the institution renamed the V. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University; its Faculty of Ukrainian Philology (est. 2005) was closed and its departments of Ukrainian linguistics, culture of the Ukrainian language, and theory and history of Ukrainian literature amalgamated into the Faculty of Slavic Philology and Journalism; meanwhile, its pro-Ukrainian faculty and administration relocated to Kyiv, retaining its historic name, with new student intake in 2016).
2) The Crimean Engineering Pedagogical University, established in Simferopol in 1993 as the Crimean State Industrial Pedagogical Institute by the Crimean Tatars, acquired present title and status in 2003; after 2014 it continues to cater to Crimean Tatars.
Other small specialized institutions are: 3) the Crimean University of Culture, Fine Arts and Tourism (est. 1948 as the Crimean school of cultural education, amalgamated by 1958 with the Crimean School of Culture and Simferopol Tekhnikum of Library Studies, in 1966 became the Crimean Oblast School of Cultural Studies and in 1990 the Crimean School of Culture; briefly (2002–4) it became the Crimean branch of Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts; however, the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea broke that link (2004), changing it to the Crimean University of Culture, Fine Arts and Tourism; 4) the Simferopol University of Economics and Management (est. 1994, re-registered in 2015), 5) the Crimean Institute of Business (est. 1993 with the requirement of English, re-registered in 2015). Two Crimean branches of Russian universities were introduced after 2014: 6) branch of the National Law Academy of Ukraine (renamed University in 2013), after 2014 became branch of the Russian State University of Law and 7) the Crimean Branch of Krasnodar University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.
Other postsecondary institutions include the National Academy of Nature Protection and Resort Construction (est 1960), the Academy of Construction and Architecture, the Peter Tchaikovsky Simferopol Conservatory (est 1910, acquired new building in 1978) and the M. Samoshkin Crimean School of Fine Arts (est 1937).
There are a number of research institutions, including the Institute of Agriculture of the Crimea and the Ukrainian State Institute for Orchards and Vineyards (both affiliates of the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine, with its teaching arm, the Academy of Bioresources and Nature Utilization at Ahrarne) and two Crimean branches: the Institute of Mineral Resources of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, as well as a seismic station (after annexation the institutes were taken over by the Russian Academy of Sciences).
Simferopol has the State Archives of the Crimea and 10 public libraries; its two main ones are 1) the I. Franko Crimean Republic Universal Scientific Library (began as a community library in 1834, then the Simferopol city library [1890, with addition of the S. Tumanov collection], then the Crimean Central Library [1920, with additions from pedagogical, medical, Prosvita, seminary, and other private collections], in 1956 named after Ivan Franko [centennial of his birth]) and 2) the I. Gasprinskii Republican Crimean Tatar Library (est 1990 as a branch of the former, in 1994 M. Tiutiundzhi initiated rebirth of Crimean Tatar library, funded by the Netherlands, to open in 1995 under current name).
Culture. Until 2014 three cultures were evident in the city: Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean Tatar. Among the city’s cultural facilities are the three music and drama theaters: the M. Gorky Crimean Academic Russian Drama Theater, the Crimean Academic Ukrainian Music Theater (re-named, after 2014, the State Academic Music Theater of the Republic of Crimea), and Crimean Tatar Music and Drama Theater, a puppet theater, a circus, a philharmonic orchestra, the Central Museum of Tavriia (a regional studies museum), the Simferopol Art Museum, the Crimean Ethnographic Museum, the Crimean Tatar Museum of Arts, and the I. Selvinsky (local poet) museum (est. 1989).
Monuments fist memorialized the Russian imperial and then Soviet power: 1) the Dolgorukov Obelisk (est. 1842 to honor Prince V. Dolgorukov), 2) Catherine II (originally erected in 1890, dismantled in 1921, replaced with Vladimir Lenin before the Second World War; restoration was proposed by pro-Russian authorities in 2007 but opposed by Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians; reconstructed in 2014–16) and 3) Gen A. Suvorov (est 1951, enhanced 1984); then 4) the defenders and liberators of the Crimea (1944). After the Crimea was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR, monuments were erected to commemorate some eminent Ukrainians and Russians, as well as Communist leaders: Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, holding a scroll ‘With Russia forever’ (est 1954), obelisk to Communist heroes of 1918–20 (est 1957), the Ukrainian-born Russian-language playwright, Kostiantyn Treniov (who lived in Simferopol 1907–1931, est 1958), several of Lenin (1961, 1967), and his brother, D. Ulianov (1971), the Bolshevik Mikhail Frunze (1966), the Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin (1967) and a stela to the Bolshevik Navy Commissar, P. Dybenko (1968). With the 1991 Ukraine’s Declaration of Independence, various groups put up memorials, sometimes antagonistic to one-another: by the Ukrainian community, a bust of Taras Shevchenko (at the Shevchenko Park, erected in 1997 as gift from the city of Kalush); Ivan Franko (in front of the main library, 1998, funded by the city); by the Mejlis, a bust of Ismail Gasprinsky (est. 1998) and Petro Grigorenko (1999, funded by his son A. Hryhorenko, approved by city only in 2004); by the Armenian society of the Crimea, the painters Ivan Aivazovsky and Gabriel Aivazovsky (1999); by critics of the Soviet regime, to the victims of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster (2007); by the Communist Party of Ukraine, ‘A Shot in the Back’ (to victims of OUN and UPA, 2007); by the Crimean association ‘Children of War,’ ‘to the children of war, killed in 1941–45’ (2009); Peter Tchaikovsky (2010, funded by the city). After Russian annexation, the Catherine II monument was completed (2014–16), a bust of Grigorii Potemkin was erected (2016) and two memorials were raised to praise Russian annexation: 1) ‘people to take up arms,’ (2016) and 2) ‘to polite people’ (a Special Forces [‘green man’] soldier greeted by a little girl, 2016).
Simferopol is the main publishing and media center of the Crimea. It has many publishing houses (such as Arial, Biznes-Inform, Dolia [published in Ukrainian, 2011–13], Odzhak, Tavryda, scientific research institutes, government departments and universities) and Russian-language newspapers: one daily, the Krymskaia pravda (began in 1918 as Tavricheskaia pravda, then Tavricheskii kommunist , Krasnyi Krym [1920–52], with publishing in other locations during German occupation in 1942–44], and Krymskaia pravda [1952–]), two others, Krymskaia gazeta, Krymskoe vremia, and four free tabloids. The Ukrainian language Kryms'ka svitlytsia (1992–) moved its publishing to Kyiv in 2014; the Crimean Tatar Golos Kryma, published in the Russian language, was allowed to continue, whereas the popular Avdet (in Crimean Tatar) was not.
Sports facilities were well developed with two major complexes. 1) The Lokomotiv Republican Sports Complex was home of SC Tavriia Simferopol (member of the Ukrainian Premier League) from its founding in 1956 (as SC Avanhard Simferopol, re-named Tavriia in 1963), replaced after invasion in 2014 by FC TSK Simferopol (member of Russian Football Union), while SC Tavriia Simferopol with its president and some players relocated to Beryslav, Kherson oblast. Its stadium, built in 1967 and renovated in 2004, was the base stadium during UEFA Euro 1988 qualifying for the USSR and hosted the 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification game against the national team of Turkey. 2) Fiolent Stadium, the first in Simferopol, was built in 1935 (initially named Sineie pole», then Pishchevik, Avangard, and Meteor; after its acquisition by the Fiolent Corporation, was re-named Fiolent). It served as home of SC Junior Tavriia Simferopol until 2014. There are 16 other sports clubs in different disciplines.
For outdoor recreation the city has the Scythian Neapolis Preserve (Zapovidnyk Neapol Skifskyi), the botanical garden of the Tavriia, merging into the Salhyrka Park [aka Vorontsov Park, in which the Vorontsov palace and the former house of the explorer-naturalist P. Pallas are located], and five other parks: from south to north, the Peace Park, the Central Park, the Childrens’ Park, the large Gagarin Park (at the confluence of the Malyi Salhyr and Salhyr rivers) and in the west the Taras Shevchenko Park. In addition, there is a green belt for walking along the Salhyr River and a tree-shaded esplanade leading to the train station. There are also some green areas around the Simferopol Reservoir and on the southern and eastern outskirts of the city.
The most interesting architectural monuments are the Kebir Cami mosque (1508, enlarged 17–18th c, rebuilt 1994), the Karaite Kenessa (1891–96), and those with elements of local style, the Taranov-Belozerov residence (1822–6), the Vorontsov palace (1827), and the railway station (1951). The three Russian Orthodox cathedrals, the Alexandro-Nevskii (built 1823–29, re-built 2003–22), SS Peter and Paul (1866–70), and the Holy Trinity (1868) represent Russian church architecture. Modern buildings include the Crimean parliament (1980–88) and the new airport terminal at Ukromnoe (2016–18). Some of the old Tatar quarter, with its winding, narrow streets and Oriental buildings, has been preserved.
City plan. Simferopol developed at the crossroads: north to the mainland, east to Teodosiia and Kerch, south to Yalta and southwest through Bakhchysarai to Sevastopol. The city is laid out in several grids conforming to the northwest orientation of the Salhyr River, which bisects Simferopol from the southeast to the northwest. Two thoroughfares cross the city from northwest to southeast and one from southwest to northeast. A railway passes through the northwestern part of the city from north to south.
On a map the city forms an irregular rectangle, with indentations in the east and west. Covering an area of 86 sq km, it is divided into three administrative (city raion) sections: 1) Central (Tsentralnyi, forming the southern segment extending from the city center, 24 sq km), 2) Railway (Zaliznychnyi [Uk] to the northwest, 17 sq km), and 3) Kyiv (Kyivskyi [Uk], the eastern half, 45 sq km). The Central section contains the western part of the city center, some of the old city and newer quarters southwest of it. The Railway section contains the northern edge of the city center, the railway with its passenger station and some industries along its spurs, and with residential and commercial in outlying areas. The Kyiv section contains the eastern part of the city center with the old city (Ak-Mechet) south of it, and newer areas in the southeastern periphery and in the northeast.
The city center is where the three sections meet, near its central intersection, now a traffic circle, called Soviet Square (in Ukrainian, Radianska ploshcha). The city center, which contains most of Simferopol’s civic institutions and public places, forms a quadrangle (from this central traffic circle 0.5 km SE to Caucasus Street, 0.6 km SW to Gogol Street, 0.8 km NW to Tolstoy Street and about 0.3 km NE beyond the Salhyr River) that covers approximately 1 sq km. Beyond this, along the arterials or close to them are other institutions, such as houses of prayer, universities, medical centers, sports complexes, communication centers and transportation depots.
The central traffic circle has four arterials: 1) to the SE, Lenin Street (originally, Lazarevsky Street, in the Kyiv section), where it branches off to follow the left bank of the Salhyr River as the Vorovsky Street (originally, Vorontsovsky Street) and then to Vernadsky Avenue to Yalta Highway; 2) to the SW, Kirov Avenue (originally Salhyr Street), then (having entered the Central section) branches off to the south as a parallel Sevastopol Street, which becomes Highway H6 (‘Tavrida’ Highway); 3) to the NW, to Rosa Luxemburg Street (originally, the Alexandro-Nevskii Street [named after the cathedral], re-named after 2014 the Aleksandr Nevskii Street) which continues to the railway station as the Lenin Boulevard (originally, Alexander II Boulevard), then from the station NE as Gagarin Street (originally, Perekop Street), with the option of turning NW at Kim Street (originally, continuation of Perekop Street) to the Yevpatoriia Highway; or continuing along Gagarin Street across the Salhyr River to Kyiv Street and then NW on Kyiv Street, which becomes Highway M18; and 4) to the NE, again Kirov Avenue (in the Kyiv section), across the Salhyr River and then, beyond the Kyiv Street intersection, changes its name to Victory Avenue (originally, Teodosiia Street) which becomes Highway P23 to Teodosiia. The main features of the city center and along arterials are described below in clockwise direction, beginning from the south.
South of the Soviet Square (in the Kyiv section) are the older quarters of central Simferopol, which contain SS Peter and Paul Cathedral and the Holy Trinity Cathedral and Convent. Some 150 m southeast of SS Peter and Paul Cathedral is the Kebir Cami mosque. Beyond the city center (south of Caucasus Street) is the old Ak-Mechet with its narrow curved streets and old houses; SE of it stands the Crimea television-radio center and its transmission tower, and SE of it the Scythian Neapolis Preserve; south of Ak-Mechet, the Jewish Reformist Synagogue Ner Tomid; west of Ak-Mechet, the Karaite Kenassa; and farther south-southwest the Crimean Tatar mosque Seit Settar Cami, but the nearby Crimean Tatar cemeteries of 1914 were later filled in with buildings.
Southwest of the Soviet Square is a commercial district with the Silpo Mall; from the intersecting Karl Marx Street, past Gorky Street to Gogol Street, between Kirov Avenue and Sevastopol Street is the Lenin Square (originally, the central market); at its northeast end stands the modern Crimean Academic Ukrainian Music Theater (re-named, after annexation, the State Academic Music Theater of the Republic of Crimea); at the southwest end, the Crimean Council of Ministers Building; between them is an open square with its Vladimir Lenin monument. Northwest of Lenin Square is the Simferopol Circus and beyond that, the Shevchenko Movie Theater. Kitty corner, on the NW side of Gorky Street and Pushkin Street, is the Crimean Academic Russian Drama Theater, adjacent to it, the City History Museum, and farther southwest the Central Museum of Tavriia; south, the Ethnographic Museum and northwest, the Three Saints Church and the Tavriia Seminary.
Along Sevastopol Street beyond the city center are: the SS Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral, the Amet-Khan Sultana Square, south of it the Crimean Engineering-Pedagogical University and west of it the Lokomotiv Republican Sports Complex with its stadium (formerly, the Tavriia Stadium); farther SW, is the Taras Shevchenko Park (est. 1924, re-named after the Bard of Ukraine in 1964).
West northwest of the central traffic circle is the Aleksandr Nevskii Street (formerly, Rosa Luxemburg Street, originally Alexander Street), which leads to the Simferopol railway station. On its east side, near the circle, is the Crimea’s Ministry of Education and next to it the city’s central post office; farther NW (still within the Central section) at Zhukovsky Street is the Ukraina Hotel; on the SW side is the Aleksandro-Nevskii Cathedral and facing it from the NW, the obelisk to V. Dolgorukii (1842); SW of the cathedral is the Victory Garden (with a tank, 1944) and beyond it, is the Crimean parliament building, and behind it, the Central Raion (section) council building. West of the cathedral stands the Simferopol City Hall.
Beyond this central area, the two arterials, Aleksandr Nevskii (one-way to the NW) and Karl Marks (to the SE) connect northwest to the Simferopol Railway Station. Along the way are the Railway Tekhnikum, the Crimea Ministry of Justice, the Crimean Medical Center, Museum of Anatomy, Simferopol Art Museum and Fine Arts Gallery; at Pavlenko Street the two streets converge into the broad, park-like Lenin Boulevard, on the east side of which are the Russian Academy of Law (Crimean Branch) and the campus of the S. Georgievsky Medical Academy (before 2014 it was a separate university); at the end is the Simferopol Railway Station and on its east side, the Resort Bus Terminal.
At the northeast side of the Soviet Square is the headquarters of Chernomorneftegaz. Across the Salhyr River, is the Crimea document service center and north of Kirov Avenue is the Crimean Tatar Academic Music and Drama Theater; east of it, the Crimean headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation; kitty corner, on the southeast side of Kirov Avenue, the Geology Institute of the Crimea; beyond it, the Children’s Park, consisting of a zoo, a youth astronomical observatory and a pioneer palace. Beyond this are many residential neighborhoods, some consisting of high-rise apartments, schools and commercial services and small industries.
From this intersection along Kyiv Street to the NW is the Fiolent Stadium and the Dynamo sports complex; farther on, the Gagarin Park; on the east side, near the northern city limits, the Simferopol Academic Gymnasium and next to it the Academy of Construction and Architecture. Going SE on Kyiv Street from the Children’s Park, is the Fiolent factory.
On east side of Soviet Square is the Simferopol Movie Theater, in front of which now stand on either side two antagonistic monuments: a bust of Petro Grigorenko (1999) and ‘A Shot in the Back’ (to victims of OUN and UPA, sponsored by the Communist Party of Ukraine, 2007). South-southeast of the theater, is the Central Park of Culture and Relaxation, featuring the monument to Catherine II. Across the Salhyr River, are the Peter Tchaikovsky Simferopol Conservatory, the Potemkin Square, and east of it, the Ivan Franko Library; next to it, the former Mejlis building.
Beyond the park there is the Simferopol Birth Clinic and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church; beyond the clinic, a riverside park with the bust of Ismail Gasprinsky and next to it, the Kyiv section court house. Along the east side of Vernadsky Avenue is the Salhyrka Park / Tavriia National University botanical garden and at its south end, the campus of the V. Vernadsky Tavriia National University; then (0.5 km further) the avenue merges with the Hrebelna Street which also serves at this point as the eastern bypass of the city and part of Yalta Highway (Highway E105). Just beyond this merger, on the east side and overlooking the reservoir, is the Simferopol Synodal Mosque.
Road traffic from mainland Ukraine to the Crimean southern shore (through the Kyiv section of the city) was facilitated by an older bypass; a new, limited access highway was added after 2015 north of Ahrarne, bypassing Greater Simferopol, to expedite traffic between the Russian Federation and Sevastopol via the Kerch Bridge.
The railway and its spurs serve most of the industries of Simferopol. North of the city, between Komsomolske and Ahrarne, is the freight terminal with many spurs leading to fruit packing, construction, and other enterprises and the Simferopol thermal electric power plant. Within Simferopol (railway section), on the northwestern side of the tracks, going SSW near the passenger terminal, separate spurs lead to a furniture factory, a macaroni plant, and a concrete form fabrication plant. Further south, on the southeastern side, spurs lead to a metal fabrication plant, and then to two large factories on either side of the main line. On the southeastern side is a walled prison. South of this, the industrial zone expands from the main line both to the east (spanning the border of Railway and Central sections) and west. In the east is a leather tanning and shoe-making factory and a meat-processing plant, a building materials plant, the central transformer station, a plastics-making plant, the electric machine-building plant Selma, the machine-building plant Progress (est. 1930), the electric grid servicing plant Ukrenerhoprom (est. 1992), and the Tavrida publisher; west of the main line are the distillery and brewery. On the east side, south of the Tavrida publisher, is the Foton TV-making plant and east of it the Krymkhleb bakery. South of these factories, just outside the city limits, is the Zavodske Airfield (6 helicopter pads and a short runway; est. 1915 to serve the first aircraft assembly plant; 1931, site of first school for Soviet pilots, also the Amet-khan Sultan Sports-aviation Club for sky-diving with its museum ; 1941 est. Universal-Avia helicopter service depot; privatized but later nationalized by Crimean occupation authorities in 2014). A smaller industrial cluster is found in the southeast of the Central section (including the UTOG sewing plant, the Pnevmatika farm machinery plant, and the Sizakor pipe plant).
Transportation in the city is provided by buses, trolley buses, mini-buses and taxis. Streetcars, introduced in 1914, were abandoned in 1970. Inter-city buses have four depots in the city: Central, Resort, Eastern and Western. There is a suburban rail service (with 3 stations within the city) from Simferopol to other places in the Crimea. Inter-city train and bus service in and out of Ukraine and on to the Russian Federation ceased after the Russian Federation annexed the Crimea, necessitating Russians to use the Kerch ferry until the opening of car (2018) and rail (2019) traffic on the Kerch Strait Bridge. The inter-city trolley bus to Yalta was also affected by power cut from mainland Ukraine (2015–16). The Simferopol International Airport was established in 1936 at Aeroflotskyi (with flights to Moscow, expanding to Kyiv and Kharkiv by 1939; a second runway was added in 1977 to accommodate large, wide-bodied aircraft; designated in 1989 as a western alternate airport for landing of the Buran spacecraft). With Ukraine’s independence, the airport attained international status, with most of its flights to Russian cities. Following the Russian Federation’s annexation of the Crimea and complications with ground access to RF, a new airport with a modern terminal was built (2016–18) 2 km north, at Ukromne.
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[This article was updated in 2023.]