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Castles in the region of Kresy end Podolia...
By Pogranicze Galicja
Published: 25.06.2009

Kamienets Podilskyi 

Pearl on the Stone >> - this is how Kamianets - Podilskyi is called."
   "On rocky slopes, as if growing from them, there are powerful walls and towers of an old town, in which nature and architects’ talent created a unique view, where a church and a Turkish minaret, a town hall and an Orthodox church stand next to each other, where each stone preserves in itself the voices of history”.
    Kamianets - Podilskyi is a town which preserved the spirit of middle Ages. One may see here one of the biggest fortified buildings, a fortress, which belongs to the global forefront of fortified architecture.
   A chronicle attributes the creation of the stone fortress to the Lithuanian dukes Koriatowicz, who reigned in the duchy in 60s-90s f the 14th century. A high, rocky bank of the
Smotrych River, a picturesque landscape, powerful towers with mysterious Latin inscriptions. The old town functions as a unique town complex with the area of 121 hectares separated from the remaining districts of the town by a deep canyon of the Smotrych River
   The architecture of the old town-sanctuary preserved the patterns of the multinational culture (Ukrainian, Polish, Armenian, Turkish, Russian) and religion (Orthodox, Catholic, Judaist, Muslim), namely: a Turkish minaret from the 17th century, a Turkish and Armenian rampart also from the 17th century, an Armenian Orthodox church under the invocation of Saint Nicholas from the 14th century, a wooden Orthodox church from the 18th century, Dominican and Franciscan monastery complexes from the 15th and the 18th centuries. A palace bridge connecting the town with the castle is one of the unique engineer buildings in the sanctuary. It is presumed that it was built by the Romans in the second century during the march of Trojan’s army to
    Due to its unique combination of town-planning, architectonic and historical heritage of the
Old Town with the landscape of the canyon of the Smotrych River “The Cultural Landscape of the Region” was appointed to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.
   A system of underground pavements and casemates remained till our times. A day tower, from which one may admire the landscape, is open for the visitors. An old fortress, which became the flagship of Kamianets - Podilskyi, is an inseparable part of the old town, its pearl and a symbol of the town. It is said that the fortress was founded in the 12th century. Bastions of the fortress are like an extension of the rocks.
   Eleven bastions are the part of the fortress; each bastion has its own name, its own history. For example:  the highest bastion is called the Pope’s Bastion, because it was built for the money given by Pope Julius III. The tower is also called Karmeluk’s Bastion, because Ustym Karmeluk was imprisoned in it for three times. In a black, corner tower there is a well 40 m deep and with a diameter of 5 m forged in rock. A huge, wooden wheel with a device for pulling out water to the surface preserved.
Aleksander Mishuk
translated by Joanna Hardukiewicz


   Situated on a crossing of trade routes, Khotyn has always attracted the invaders’ attention.
   In order to protect Khotyn from the invaders, a fortress which survived centuries and which saw under its walls the army of the Ottoman Empire, insurgents of Mucha, national avengers of Detyna, warriors of Dmytro Vyshnevetsky and Petro Doroshenko was built. During the war of liberation of the Ukrainian nation against the Polish nobility, the army of Bohdan Khmelnytsky invaded Khotyn twice.
    Khotyn attracts tourists from all over the world; it is one of the oldest towns in Ukraine, which not long ago celebrated its 1000th anniversary. At the beginning of the 11th century, Prince Vladimir I of Kiev
created a system of border fortifications on the West and South of the new state, including Khotyn.
   The name of the town is derived probably from the verb “to want” (Pol. chcieć): this place has always been desired by ancient settlers, who wanted to live in this beautiful and rich country (other versions explain origins of the town’s name as coming from the Slavic name Chotyn, or from the name of the Dacians’ leader, Kotyzon).
   At the beginning, it was a small wooden fortress built by the Eastern-Slavic Peoples in the place of the former settlement which protected the place from numerous invaders. Next to the fortress and simultaneously with it, there was a settlement in the open space. In its territory, archeologists discovered the remains of half-dugout residential rooms with stone furnaces characteristic of the 9th-10th centuries, and a cultural layer from the 7th-8th centuries was discovered at a depth of 1,2 - 1,4  m. Khotyn was particularly densely inhabited in the 11th-13th centuries, when it belonged to Kievan Rus’. It occupied the area of above 20 hectares then. Historians claim that the castle and the town Khotyn come from the 11th century.
   After the seizure of Rus’ by the Mongolian-Tatar hordes, the function of Khotyn as one of the most important outposts increased even more. Its fortifications defended very important crossings through the Dniester River and stopped the plundering invasions of nomads. Prince Danilo of Halych, despite the fact that he was subordinated to the Golden Horde, continuously fought with it. He built new and strengthened old fortresses. According to his will, in the 40s and the 50s of the 13th century in Khotyn, instead of the wooden fortifications the stone ones were built. The first stone fortress was not big. Situated at the promontory, where today is a Northern bastion, it stretched to the South, to the present commandant’s palace. During the centuries, it was repeatedly reconstructed and broadened; it was ruined by the conquerors and again rebuilt. By the end of the 14th century, Khotyn went into the hands of
Moldavia. Voivode Stephen III of Moldavia considerably broadened borders of the fortress. A wall 5 m broad and 40 m height was raised. Deep basements were dug in the fortress for the soldiers. During the 15th-16th centuries, the fortress of Khotyn became a mansion of Moldavian hospodars. Due to a hard base and convenient location, Khotyn became the centre of development of craft and trade, which favored the development of culture and wealth of the town. The manuscript of the Gospel of Khotyn form the 14th century proves it. The biggest fairs in Moldavia, to which merchants from different countries of the Eastern and Western Europe came, took place in Khotyn then. The town was the most important centre of European-Asiatic trade. Currently, one may see the building of an old customs house of Khotyn. In the second half of the 16th century, the income from the Khotyn’s fair to the Moldavian vault was enormous and it amounted 10 000 zlotys per annum. In summer 1538, during the castle’s siege by the Polish army under the command of Jan Tarnowski, part of the walls and bastions were destroyed. The damages were rebuilt in 1540-1544. With the fall of the Principality of Moldavia, the town and the fortress were taken over by the Turks. They strengthened the defense capacity of the fortress, but the local population never accepted the new invaders. The Zaporozhian Cossacks were often helpful in this fight. In 1563, when the Cossacks under the command of a legendary leader Dymitr Wiśniowiecki conquered the fortress and started negotiations with a Moldavian hospodar about the common fight against the Turks, Moldavian boyars betrayed and the Cossacks’ ward was smashed and Dymitr Wiśniowiecki was killed in Constantinople
    In 1615, Khotyn was conquered by the Polish army. After the Polish-Turkish Battle of Cecora, during which the Polish army was disintegrated and Grand Crown Hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski was killed, Khotyn remained as the outpost protecting from the Turkish invading army. In September and at the beginning of October 1621, next to the walls of the Khotyn fortress, the so called War of Khotyn took place. The war made the Zaporozhian Cossacks and their hetman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny famous and was a critical period in the history of the
Ottoman Empire. The victory at Khotyn saved Western Europe from the Janissaries invasion, made a great nationwide impression and is broadly described in literature. After concluding the peace of Khotyn, the fortress was given back to the Moldavian hospodars but, in fact, it was Turkey that controlled it. At both sides of the Dniester River, along which the border runs, two hostile, powerful fortresses were raised - the Khotyn Fortress and Kamianets-Podilskyi.
   During the 17th century, Khotyn went from hands to hands, the Polish kings and the Turkish feudal owners ruled it, the town was repeatedly liberated by the Zaporozhian Cossacks. During the war of liberation, the army of Bohdan Khmelnytsky stayed in Khotyn in 1650-1653.
11 November 1673
, Crown hetman John Sobieski commanding the Polish-Lithuanian-Cossack army of 30 thousand of soldiers completely routed under Khotyn the 40 thousand Turkish army. Wars with the Turks had lasted for another long years. Only at the beginning of the 18th century, the Turks ultimately managed to consolidate in Khotyn and in the fortress. In 1712-1718, after the reconstruction (with the help of French engineers) the fortress became the most powerful centre of the Ottoman protection in the East of Europe.
   Despite the fact that in the 18th and 19th centuries the fortress gradually lost is defensive meaning, fights still tool place under its walls. Several times the fortress was invaded by the Russian army. In 1739, the army entered Khotyn after the victory over the Turks in the Battle of Stawczany, in which Ukrainians, Russians, Georgians and Moldavians bravely fought with the enemy. In 1769-1787, the fortress in Khotyn was invaded by the Russian army. However, only after the Russian-Turkish war in 1806-1812, Khotyn became the part of
and was a centre of Bessarabia Governorate. While retreating, Turks almost completely destroyed Khotyn, which was slowly rebuilt.
   In 1826, Khotyn was given a coat of arms: a silver, three-tower citadel on a gold background, above which there is an even-armed cross above the crossed swords – the symbols of the defense of the country against the enemies. At the top of the middle tower there is a half-moon, and at both side towers there are panaches. In 1832, in the territory of the fortress, a new Orthodox church under the invocation of Saint Alexander Nevsky was built. In 1856, the status of a military building of the fortress in Khotyn was cancelled. During the 19th century, the town itself enlarged at the plain according to a regular plan. According to the population census from 1897, Khotyn had 18126 inhabitants. After a reform (1860) the first industry enterprises were created in Khotyn. There were few water mills. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 3 breweries, 10 distilleries, 4 tobacco factories, a sawmill, a brick-yard, 2 printing houses in Khotyn. The town had 2 hospitals with 45 beds, a drugstore, there were 2 district schools (a female one and a male one), 2 one-year male schools and 1 private school.
    The inhabitants of the town experienced a lot of evil and suffering during World War I. In 1918,
Russia, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Austria-Hungary and Romania aspired to the border land of Khotyn. On 10 October 1918, the army of royal Romania entered Khotyn. Repressions and terror began. However, the inhabitants of Khotyn did not surrender to the new invaders. In January 1919, an anti-Romanian uprising started. The authority in over one hundred villages went into the hands of the Khotyn Directory where Y. I. Voloshenko-Mardaryev was in charge. The Directory, supported by the nation, decided to chase the Romanians away from their country and to restore independence. Within 10 days, the participants of the Khotyn uprising led pitched battles with the royal army. On 1 February, the invaders entered Khotyn and settled matters with the inhabitants. Every day, the invaders took hundreds of people to the ruins of the Khotyn fortress, from where no one came back. Within 22 years, Khotyn became a district centre of Romania. On 6 July 1941, invaders - the German-Romanian army - once again entered Khotyn. The years of terror and suffering started anew. In the first days of the occupation, an antifascist organization, which had functioned for a year under the command of Kuzma Galkin, was created in the town. It was detected and liquidated in September 1942. The town was freed on 3 April 1944. However, in post-war years, Khotyn, as well as the whole Ukraine, experienced an influence of the communist totalitarianism. The independence from 1991 became an embodiment of dreams of the Khotyn inhabitants about their State.
   Khotyn today - it is one of the biggest towns in the Chernivtsi Oblast, an industrial, touristic and cultural centre of
Bukovina. In September 1991, during a festival for the 370th anniversary of the Battle of Khotyn, a monument in praise of the hetman of Ukraine, Petro Sahaidachny, was opened. The Khotyn fortress is a place, where many feature movies were shot: The Viper, Zachar Berkut, and the Ballad about a Brave knight Ajwengo
, Three Musketeers, The Black Arrow, The Old Fortress, and the Robin Hood’s Arrows. Among the movies shot recently - a screening of a work by the famous Ukrainian writer, Jurij Muszketyk, Jasa made by Alexader Dowżenko’s movie studio. In 2000, because of the historical tradition of the town, a historical-architectural sanctuary “The Khotyn Fortress” was created on the basis of a decision by The Committee of Ministers of Ukraine. In September 2002, the town celebrated its 1000th anniversary.
Aleksander Mishuk
translated by Joanna Hardukiewicz
Materials from
were used.

Holy Trinity Trenches 

   On a long, rocky promontory near the mouth of the Zbruch River to the Dniester River, on a South - East edge of Galicia and on the westernmost extent point of Tarnopol Voivodeship in the period of the Second Rzeczpospolita, there are ruins of the fortress from the 17th century, which became famous due to the colorful descriptions in The Un-Divine Comedy by Zygmunt Krasiński. It was there, in a literary vision of Krasiński, on the Holy Trinity Trenches, that aristocrats defended themselves from revolutionists, and the place became a symbol of the Polish conservatism and traditionalism.
    Since 1672, Kamianets - Podilskyi, the impregnable fortress, was in the Turkish hands. In the same year, King Michael Korybut Wiśniowiecki signed a disgraceful treaty in Buchach, giving the region of Podolia to the Turks.
   John, at that time he was not John III Sobieski yet, did not agree for this kind of the policy and he took the matters into his hands. He actively acted against the Turks, he recaptured Khotyn from their hands, and then he concentrated the army in the region of Podolia and blocked Kamianets. In order to prevent the Turks from equipping Kamianets - Podilskyi, the king ordered to build an additional fortress. In 1692, in spite of the intense Turkish attacks, a fortress in Trenches was built during few weeks. A fortified camp was created at the promontory between the Zbruch River and the Dniester River. The design of the building is ascribed to the general of horse artillery, Marcin Kątski, and probably to the architect, Tylman van Gameren. An enlargement is a merit of Grand Crown Hetman, the Castellan of Cracow, Stanisław Jan Jabłoński, who according to the king’s orders appointed col. Michał Brandt to be the first commandant of the fortress, and Jakub Kalinowski to be the commander of the garrison. The fortress in Trenches is an example of a classic Dutch military building. To the East and West it is supported by earth and wooden entrenchments with ramparts strengthened with double line of fortification and embankments. An entry lead through the brick gates - Kamianets and Lvov - with ravelins. Flanks of the fortress were protected by walls with corner ramparts, which guarded the fortress from the steep banks of the river flowing round the promontory.
   In the same time, not far from the fortress, the king founded a church, which survived till our times also as a ruin.
   They played a certain function during the Bar Confederation, and later they went into ruin and became forgotten.

Worked out by Bohdan Zhukiewicz
translated by Joanna Hardukiewicz
Photos Aleksander Mishuk, Mieczysław Kowal, Janusz Kurasz, Jurek Jaremczuk, (zakapior)

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