KAMYANETS-PODILSKIY FORTRESS

Kamyanets-Podilskiy is a major tourist center with a well-developed infrastructure. The city ranks third in Ukraine by the number of architectural monuments. Most of them are situated in Stare Misto (the Old Town), which is located on a rocky plateau, separated from the outer area by the canyon of Smotrych River. The river turns around the Old Town making a ring and leaving only a narrow isthmus. This place is protected by the powerful Kamyanets-Podilskiy fortress, which is one of the most spectacular fortifications in Ukraine. The peculiar location of the city on an impregnable rocky island, and its favorable geopolitical location near the state border, ground communications and waterways, the most important of which has always been the Dnister, resulted in its key role as a borderline fortress.

Medieval historians had identified Kamyanets-Podilskiy as one of the Da-cian towns, Klepydava. At the beginning of the 2nd century, Dacia was conquered by the Roman emperor Trajan, who transformed it into a province of the Roman Empire. During excavations in Kamyanets-Podilskiy fortress, archaeologists discovered the remains of a defense system dated to the period of Trajan wars. At that time, a bridge on stone pylons was constructed on a narrow isthmus between the castle and the town.

In 1196, the Hypatian Codex mentions Kamyanets as a town of the old Rus, which was a part of Volyn principality. It was situated on the way from Kyiv to the Balkans, one of the parts of the Silk Road, which connected Europe and Asia. In the town, numerous camel caravans stopped while carrying exotic goods from the East. This part of Kamyanets-Podilskiy was named Karvasary, from the distorted Turkic word «caravanserai». In 1240, the city was captured by the Golden Horde and turned into the center of Kamyanets district.

In 1362, the Grand Duke of Lithuania Olherd took Podillia from the Tatars and annexed it to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Like the most of Podillia lands, Kamyanets-Podilskiy was given to Koriatovych brothers, who were the Lithuanian princes of Gedimins. In 1374, Kamyanets-Podilskiy received the Magdeburg right. Koriatovych brothers built a stone fortress on the site of ancient fortifications. It became the most important strategic defensive point of Podillia.

Since the 15th century, Kamyanets-Podilskiy became a part of Poland, the center of province, and an important frontier outpost, «an extreme bastion of the Christianity». By the 16th century, Kamyanets-Podilskiy Castle was expanded and gained its current appearance. The last construction works in the fortress took place in 1541 – 1551 under supervision of a military engineer and royal architect Jov Bretfus.

In 1617- 1621, under supervision of a military engineer Teofil Shomberg, additional stone-earthen ramparts, later named the New Fortress, were constructed on the approaches to the stronghold. Their appearance was caused by the development of artillery, as earthen fortifications could withstand bombardments better than stone walls. At that time, they also fortified the Old Town. From all sides, the plateau was surrounded by towers and bastions. In the north, the canyon could be shelled from the seven-tier Kushnirska (or Batoriy) tower, which bordered on the Vitryana (Wind) Gate. Next to it, the powerful Turkish bastion stretched. In the east and southeast, Honcharna, Kravetska and Ryznytska towers lined up along the edge of the bluff. In the west, Na Brodah watch tower appeared. From the fortress side they constructed the city gate, fortified by the Armenian bastion.

During the national liberation war of Ukrainian people, Kamyanets-Podilskiy repeatedly suffered from Cossack raids. In 1648, it was captured by the troops under Maksym Kryvonis, in 1651, by the regiment of Ivan Bohun. In 1652, Kamyanets-Podilskiy withstood the three-week siege by the 60,000 army of Bohdan Khmelnytskiy and survived only due to a plague, which broke out in the Cossack army.

In 1672, the city was besieged by the Turkish army of 170,000 Janissaries led bySultan Mahomet and supported by Cossacks under Petro Doroshenko. The city was defended by a garrison of 9,000 under the command of Volodyievskiy and 6,000 of militia. During 20 days, the Turks stormed Kamyanets-Podilskiy Castle and after losing 2,000 Janissaries, finally managed to undermine the fortress gate and get into the city. Sultan Mahomet IV ordered to celebrate the capture of Kamyanets-Podilskiy throughout the whole Ottoman Empire for three days. All surviving defenders were allowed to leave the city.

The Turks governed Kamyanets for 27 years. They closed Christian churches and the main cathedral was turned into a mosgue. The minaret of this mosgue has survived to our days. It is located next to Petropavlivskiy (St Peter and Paul’s) Cathedral, and the statue of the Holy Virgin decforates its top now. Masses of local children were shipped to Turkey: boys were turned into Janissaries, girls were sent to harems. In 1685, Yuriy Khmelnytskiy was publicly executed in Kamyanets-Podilskiy. Poland has repeatedly attempted to win back the city in 1673, 1683, 1687, and 1698. Still, all attempts have failed. Only in October 1699, under the Karlovytsky agreement, Podillia and Kamyanets-Podilskiy was returned to Poland.