The area is notable for its arid, rocky terrain due to its proximity to Crimean mountains. During Byzantine times the town was called Alouston (Ἄλουστον) meaning "Unwashed". Vestiges survive of a Byzantine defensive tower from a fortress of which the city name has derived, as well as a 15th-century Genoese fortress . During the Genoese rule the name modified to Lusta. Adam Mickiewicz dedicated two of his Crimean Sonnets to Alushta.
In 1910, 544 Jews lived in Alushta, consisting about 13% of the town population. In 1939, they consisted only 2.3% of the town overall population, numbering 251 individuals. On 4 November 1941, the Germans occupied the town and on 24 November 1941, a unit of sonderkommando 10b shot to death 30 Jews along with captured communists and partisans. In early December 1941, about 250 Jews from Alushta were shot to death by sonderkommando 11b in the park of trade union sanatorium no. 7, which is today in the local center for children and creativity.
^Variants are Ἄλουστος (masc.), Ἀλοῦστον (neu.), Ἀλούστα (fem.) The feminine form, Alusta, is consistent with it application to a city rather than a fortress. The anhydrous climate likely gave rise to a satirical, anthropomorphic appellation of “unwashed” to the place from a resident(s). Χαραλαμπάκης, Παντελής. “Σκέψεισγια δυο Μεσαιωνικα Τοπωνυμια της Κριμαιαs, (Αλουστου, Παρθενιται)” [Reflections on two medieval names of Crimea (Aloustou, Parthenitai], Βυζαντινά Σύμμεικτα 23 (2013): 201-216; esp. 203, note 7.