The memorials of defense architecture in Ukraine – fortresses, castles, fortified churches, town fortifications – are part of Ukraine’s rich historic and cultural heritage. Ukraine has a unique political and geographical location. There are various samples of architecture and various national traditions on the Ukraine’s territory, where many peoples have lived at different times in its history: polish gentlemen, Austro-Hungarian noblemen, Othmen and Russian boyars. They have leaved their mark in history, what determined peculiarity of local national traditions and architectural style.
The highest number of castle fortifications has been preserved in the Ternopol region. The western part of Ukraine’s territory is justly proud of its fortification constructions; however, you can see it in the southern part too.
1. Castle in Kamenets-Podolsky
The Kamenets-Podolsky Castle is first mentioned in the Russian annals in the 12th century. At that time Podolia formed the part of Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia. Ukrainians were the main population of the city Kamenets-Podolsky from its foundation. In after years Armenian handcrafters and merchants started arriving to the city. People chose such a location for a city fortification to defend the routes of approach with natural barriers. Therefore the first defense fortifications were erected in the places, where there were undefended routes of approach to the island (a narrow isthmus or a canyon). Read more about Kamenets-Podolsky castle.
2. Castle in Khotyn
The first documentary evidence of Khotyn can be found in the “List of Russian remote and close towns”, whose creation may date back to 1394. According to the historical document, dated 1408, there was a state customhouse in the town. Fortress walls were first used to defend the town against Othman troupes, which attempted to conquer this fortification in 1476, but they couldn’t distribute correct their forces. Its walls are 40 metres high and castle area is 1200 x 250 metres. The castle is surrounded by stone and earth fortifications, which are open to visit today. Its walls are decorated with ornament, made of red bricks. Read more about Khotyn castle.
3. Sudak Fortress
The Sudak Fortress is one of the most interesting fortifications on the Crimean Peninsula. Fortresses were built in such cities of the Crimea: Feodosiya, Alushta, Gurzuf, Sevastopol and Kerch. The first written mention of Sudak dates back to the year 242. The ancient Greek manuscript “Sinaksari” notes, that a military fortification has been erected in Sudak. Old Russian sources call Sudak Surosh. This city is mentioned in the artefact of Old Russian literature “The Word about Igor’s Regiment”.
4. Olesky Castle
The Olesky Castle is one of the most interesting castles in the Lviv region. Mikhail Khmil, father of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, did here his military service. This castle became the birthplace of the future Polish King Jan Sobieski. Olesko is situated on a former important crossing of trade routes from Turkey to Lutsk, over the Carpathians to Volhynia. The oval-shaped castle is 50 metres high. The first mention of the Olesky Castle dated 1327. At that time the castle formed the part of possessions of Prince Troiden. However, there are some versions, that this castle has been erected by sons (Andrey or Lev) of Prince of Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia Jury Lvovich.
5. Shernborn Castle
Village Shernborn is famous for its beautiful castle of Austrian count Shernborn. The castle building was erected in 1890. However, there is a historical witness, that a wooden castle has stood earlier on this place. The Sherborn family used this building as a villa and a very big hunting lodge. The castle was surrounded by exotic trees instead of ditches and walls. This fantastic construction has 365 windows, 52 rooms and 12 entrances. Read more about Shernborn Castle.
6. Mukachevo Castle
The Mukachevo Castle is visible at a distance, because it is located on a high hill. The castle seems to vilipend the guests, who visit it and can’t ever come near it in battle glory. It was built to defend trade and military routes. The fortification might be erected on the hill in the centuries IX – X and was used to defend boundaries of the Kievan Rus’, located after the Carpathians. In course of time the fortification turned into the feudal castle. It was erected by Russian prince Fyodor Koryatovich. Read more about Mukachevo Castle.
7. Pidhirtsi Castle
The most beautiful castle of “The Golden Horseshoe of Lviv Region” is a powerful example of transforming a defense architecture into a palatial architecture of nobiliary residences. It was built by the architect Andrea Dell’ Aqua, author of this project and the famous “Description of Ukraine” and by the military engineer Guillaume de Beauplan to the order of crown hetman Stanislaw Konetzpolski on the northern outskirts of the Old Russian ancient settlement Plisneskoye. At that time this building was one of the most magnificent palaces on the territory of Eastern Europe, embodied a fashionable style of aristocratic residence, which was used not only as a dwelling-house, but also as a bastion fortification (“palacco in forteca”). After finishing the Liberation War of Ukrainian People, the Sobieski family, who possessed the castle since 1648, restored it and decorated the building interior. There were grandiose balls with the participation of European monarchs in the castle. Read more about Pidhirtsi Castle.
8. Belgorod-Dnestrovsky Castle
The city Belgrod-Dnestrovsky is one of the ancient Ukrainian cities, because it has been built by Cimmerians about the 6th century A.D. At that time this city existed as a polis and was called Ophius. In after years it was renamed to Tira. It’s widely thought, that the city has become a refuge for the Roman poet in exile Ovidius (one of the towers in the castle is even called “Ovidius Tower”).
9. Fortres at the village Tarakanov
The czarist government of the Russian Empire started building the fortress to defend Dubno at the end of the 19th century. The security arrangements for strengthening western boundaries were taken by the Russian czar, who intended to begin the war with Austro-Hungary. The fortress was erected on the hill at the river Iqua. At first the builders created an artificial hill and made two ditches under it. These earth operations lasted for about 10 years. The fortress was built in the rhombic shape. It was 230 metres long and 14 metres wide. Read more about Tarakanov Fortres.
10. Castle in Ostrog
The city Ostrog was first mentioned in the Ipatiyevsky chronicle (1 100 A.D.). At that time there was a wooden fortress in Ostrog. Later a fortified stone castle appeared on this place. The castle had a favourable defensive location and due to natural barriers – also a strategic position. According to Old Russian chronicles Ostrog was a settlement, which formed in the 12th century the part of Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia. In after years the city was already mentioned as the part of Kingdom of Lithuania. In the second half of the 14th century there was a fortress in Ostrog, also known as the Stone Tower.