Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle in Ukraine

18.03.18
Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle in Ukraine

A city that has kept the spirit of the Middle Ages, Kamianets-Podilskyi lures in travelers with its fusion of the picturesque landscape and historical sites — mainly, the Kamianets-Podilskyi castle, unique in its construction which has no analogues in Europe. Let's check out what else is so special about the place.

The fortress in Kamyanets-Podilskyi isn't so often called a castle for nothing — at one point of looking at this incredible beauty, the viewer will eventually recall that it's a building for defense, which for many years has been keeping Podillia region safe from the invaders' attacks. Architects and sculptors from Italy, the Netherlands, Armenia, Poland, France and Turkey made their contribution to the unique architectural style in various periods of the castle's existence.
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Its history dates back to the 10-th—13-th centuries, when Kamianets-Podilskyi castle arose as a small wooden structure on the Smotrich River, built according to the Old Russian traditions for protection of the Slavic settlements. The first two hundred years of the castle's existence weren't easy by any means: at first, the walls were destroyed in a great fire, and then it was captured by the horde of Batu, thus destroying almost all of the population. Once having broken into the city, the Tatar-Mongols established their reign, which lasted more than forty years.
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In 1362 the castle was saved by five nephews of the Lithuanian prince Olgerd, who defeated the Tatar-Mongol in the Battle of Blue waters. Fascinated by the beauty of the region and the surrounding nature, they decided to stay. Thus began the construction of a point-defense, supported by the Polish gentry and the Roman clergy. The latter even collected donations specifically for the castle's needs, so called alms of Saint Peter. Starting with the 14-th century, Kamianets Podilskyi fortress begins to acquire its modern look with its spectacular towers. Some of them were ruined during the numerous raids — for instance, Turkish Sultan Mohammed the Fourth seized the city and fortress, ruining the New Tower in process.
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Others, however, were more careful and respectful. Thus, the legends state that at the beginning of the 17th century Khan Osman approached the walls of the fortress with troops, determined to capture the castle. When he saw it for the first time, Khan was struck by the beauty of its high walls and the surroundings. He asked his subordinates, whose hand created that miracle. "Allah" was the answer. Osman then replied — "Let Allah have it" — and retreated, leaving the Kamianets Podilskyi castle untouched.
Later, during the years of the Polish Commonwealth reign, the castle became the center of Polish troops and received royal status. The 20th century was another unstable period in the castles' life: having accounted for about 10 changes of the regime by the time, until it finally became the capital of the Ukrainian National Republic. Nowadays, the old fortress of Kamianets Podilskyi castle is included in the list of UNESCO's landmarks and is a popular tourism spot in Ukraine.
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Now, let's take a look at the architectural structure. The central building occupies more than 1.5 hectares and is surrounded by eleven towers that reliably protect the city from all sides. The fortress itself consists of eleven towers, each of them has a name based on the bountiful history. Thus, the highest tower is called the Pope because it has been built on the funds sent by Pope John Julius II. Its construction began in the last decade of the 15-th century, and was completed at the beginning of the 16-th century. The tower has five floors, is quadrangular at its lower part, octagonal in the middle, and rounded with a cone-shaped roof at the top. Pope Tower is also called Karmaliukova, as it was the three times prison for the Ukrainian folk hero Ustym Karmaliuk.
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Then, the oldest among others is Denna (or Donna) tower, which cultural basis dates back to the 12-th and the 13-th centuries. It lies deep inside the castle yard and is the most remote from the entrance. It's easy to recognize — Denna tower has no top. Once there was a swift cone-shaped roof, which was topped with the guard-trumpet tower. Besides, it is known that the Roman Catholic chapel of St. Michael the Archangel was located in this very tower, built by the Kamianets headman Mykola Brzezky in 1575.
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Castle in Kamianets-Podilsky is also famous for its underground complex, where visitors can explore the expositions dedicated to the history of the place. In the western bastion, guests will find a panorama of the castle defense under the Turkish invasion of 1672. The eastern bastion hosts an exhibition devoted to the history of light missile weapons in Podillia, where the visitors can shoot a crossbow to try themselves as a mediaeval warrior. Apart from this, the underground routes and casemates system has been preserved until nowadays.
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Moreover, every Saturday and Sunday from 21:00 to 23:00 visitors can participate in the nightly theatrical excursion to the Old Fortress. The 'headman' of Kamyanets-Podilsky and his 'entourage' conduct a tour of the castle and dungeons, where stories, songs and dances introduce tourists to the history of the castle. The ticket price is UAH 20, working hours are from 10 A.M. to 7 P.M. (in winter till 5.30 P.M).
Address: 1, Zamkova street, Kamianets-Podilskyi
Photo source: shutterstock.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.

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