Balaklava, a small seaport town of Russia, in the government of Taurida, on the S. W. coast of the Crimea and a small bay of the Black sea, about 8 m. S. S. E. of Sebastopol; pop. about 750. Known in antiquity as Symbol on Portus, the bay of Balaklava was called in the middle ages Cembalo and Bella Chiava, being a possession of the Genoese, who built a fortress on the heights above the harbor. Catharine II. sent to Balaklava 2,000 Greek and Armenian soldiers as guards of the coast, and their descendants formed from 1795 to 1859 the so-called Balaklava-Greek battalion. In the Crimean war, the British troops under Lord Raglan, a few days after their landing in the peninsula, compelled the small Russian garrison to surrender, Sept. 26, 1854, and established their naval headquarters there, building fortifications and a railway to Sebastopol, and laying a submarine cable to Varna. Balaklava was attacked on Oct. 25 by the Russians, who stormed four redoubts, feebly defended by Turkish troops, and captured 11 guns; but after the repulse of their cavalry by the Highlanders and their defeat by the English heavy brigade, they made no further efforts to advance.
The earl of Cardigan, upon an order alleged to have been given by Lord Lucan for the capture of certain Russian guns, led the charge of his light brigade, composed only of about 600 horsemen, against the formidable array of the enemy, his men cutting their way through and back again under the play of the Russian batteries. The survivors of this brilliant but useless exploit did not exceed 150. The first who fell was Capt. Nolan, the officer who conveyed the disputed order from Lord Lucan. The English evacuated the place in June, 1856. Owing to the narrowness of the entrance, the harbor is now used only for the coasting trade with other Crimean ports. On an elevated rock, about 4 m. W. of the town, is the old monastery of St. George, with a new Greek church, and a maritime convent, the inmates of which officiate as priests for sailors. Either the monastery or a neighboring locality is supposed to be the site of the celebrated temple of Diana Taurica, of which in the legend Iphigenia was priestess.