Swallow's Nest (Ukrainian: Ластівчине гніздо, translit. Lastivchyne hnizdo; Russian: Ласточкино гнездо, translit. Lastochkino gnezdo); Crimean Tatar: Qarılğaç yuvası) is a decorative castle near Yalta on the Crimean shore in southern Ukraine.
It was built between 1911-1912 near Gaspra, on top of 40-meter (130 ft) high Aurora Cliff, to a Neo-Gothic design by the Russian architect Leonid Sherwood. The castle overlooks Ai–Todor cape of the Black Sea </s> and is located near the remnants of the Roman castrum of Charax. Swallow's Nest is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Crimea.
The first building on the Aurora Cliff was constructed for a Russian general circa 1895. The first structure he built was a wooden cottage romantically named the "Love Castle." Later on, the ownership of the cottage passed to A. K. Tobin, a court doctor to the Russian Tsar.
In 1911, Baron von Steingel, a Baltic German noble who had made a fortune extracting oil in Baku, acquired the timber cottage and within a year had it replaced by the current building. The Scottish baronial and Neo-Moorish styles had been introduced in the Crimea in the 1820s by Edward Blore, the architect of the Alupka Palace (1828-46). Compared to Alupka and Koreiz, Swallow's Nest is closer in style to German architectural follies, such as Neuschwanstein, Babelsberg, and Stolzenfels, although its precarious setting on the cliffs by the sea-side may also suggest the Belém Tower.
In 1914, von Steinheil sold the building to P. G. Shelaputin to be used as a restaurant. For a short time after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the building was used only as a tourist attraction. In the 1930s, the building was used by a reading club of the nearby Zhemchuzhina ("Pearl") resort.
In 1927, Swallow's Nest survived a serious earthquake rated at 6 to 7 on the Richter scale. The building was not damaged, except for some small decorative items that were thrown into the sea along with a small portion of the cliff. However, the cliff itself developed a huge crack. For a long time, Swallow's Nest was closed to the public due to the damage it suffered in that quake. The building would remain closed for the next forty years.
Renovation and restoration on the building was started in only 1968. The project involved the restoration of a small portion of the castle and the addition of a monolithic console concrete plate to strengthen the cliff. Since 1975, an Italian restaurant has operated within the building. Swallow's Nest was also featured in several Soviet films. It was used as the setting of Desyat Negrityat, the Soviet screen version of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. The Swallow's Nest Castle and the surrounding landmarks such as the Massandra palace were also shortly featured in a Jackie Chan film.
The building is compact in size (20 m long by 10 m wide; 65 ft by 33 ft). Its original design envisioned a foyer, guest room, stairway to the tower, and two bedrooms on two different levels within the tower. The interior of the guest room is decorated with wooden panels; the walls of the rest of the rooms are stuccoed and painted. An observation deck rings the building, providing a view of the sea, and Yalta's distant shoreline.