In the late 13th century the Genoese merchants took a fancy to the Feodosian Bay in Eastern Crimea. Local people, the descendants of Greeks, Alans and Khazarians, were peaceful agriculturists that greeted Christian sailors from far Northern Italy. Genoeses built the port and fortress of Kafa that became the principal center of all their possessions in the Black Sea. Kafa attracted other merchants from Transcaucasia, Ruthenium, Hungary and the Lower Empire. Italians, Greeks, Armenians, Turkic people… All of them lived together exporting to Western Europe grain, salt, marble, beef, sweet vines, yew wood and slaves. Yes, slaves! For some centuries it was a shelter for slavetraders. Slaves from Eastern Europe and Transcaucasia supplemented harems and armies of Egypt, Syria and Northern Africa. Most slaves were children and women. In 1475 Kafa was besieged with the Ottoman soldiers. The fortress was impregnable for them, but Armenian merchants decided that the sultan would be much more benevolent than Genoeses and opened the gates. Janissaries (many of them were on sale in Kafa) muscled in the city and killed many merchants, include the betrayers. Ottomans renamed Kafa into Kefe and used it mainly as a stronghold, though slave trading was still advantageous. After the crush of the Crimean Tartar Khanate in 1780s, the Ottomans lost their ports in the Crimea. New Russian authorities did not take care of the old Genoese fortress. It was desolate and partly broken. Nowadays, we would see only some towers of Kafa, medieval Byzantine and Armenian churches.
by Dzmitry Samakhvalau August. 18, 2010 2684 views