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Seven Wonders of Ukraine

The Fortress of Khotyn

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Approaching Khotyn Castle

Approaching Khotyn Castle

The city of Khotyn is located 65 km from Chernivtsi, and 25 km from Kamianets-Podilsky. One day during our stay in Kamianets-Podilsky, we saw an advertisement inviting tourists to take a bus tour to the Fortress of Khotyn for mere $10 each. We decided to save some money and to take a local bus for our day trip instead. We did not mind walking a mile from the bus stop to the fortress itself.

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Historical buildings in Khotyn


Chernobyl memorial in Khotyn

Chernobyl memorial in Khotyn


We found out that Khotyn Fortress was one of the most striking historical and architectural monuments of Ukraine. In 2007, the State Reserve of Khotyn Fortress was included into the list of the "Seven Wonders of Ukraine".

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Other wonders include:

  • Kamianets-Podilsky State Reserve
  • Pechersk Laura (Cave District Monastery) in Kyiv
  • Sophia Cathedral (“Lord’s Wisdom Cathedral”) in Kyiv
  • Sofiyivka Park, Uman, Cherkassy region
  • Khersones of Taura, Sebastopol, Crimea
  • The Island of Khortytsia, Zaporizhia

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The fortress address is: 40a Sviatopokrovska Street. Therefore, we wanted to discover that fortress, to see the river, and set out to Khotyn.

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Approaching Khotyn Castle

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The fortress is located on a rocky cape towering over the River Dniester. The city name derives from the verb "to want". That cape has always been a desirable and reliable place for ancient settlers.

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Leisure center with Karl Marx bust


Due to its favorable location, Khotyn became a center for the development of crafts and commerce, which in turn contributed to the flourishing of its culture and economy.
We discovered the city had the monument to Karl Marx, which is rare nowadays. The monument is a bust standing in front of the city leisure center.

The Battle of Khotyn, 1621

The Battle of Khotyn, 1621

The most famous battle for this fortress took place during the Khotyn War of 1621. The Turkish armada was the strongest in the world at that time.
Khotyn Fortress has been a favorite place of film directors. Several legendary films were shot here, among them: “Zakhar Berkut”, “The Viper", “The Black Arrow, ”The Ballad of the Valiant Knight Ivanhoe", “Robin Hood's Arrows", “The Old Fortress", ”Three Musketeers", “Yassa", “Taras Bulba”.

As you approach the fortress, you will notice several information board describing the sights.

General view of Khotyn Fortress

General view of Khotyn Fortress

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Here are the sights represented on the big information board of Khotyn Fortress:
1 – Northern Tower;
2 – Commandant’s Tower;
3 – Eastern Tower (“Death Tower”);
4 – South-Western Tower;
5 - Entrance Tower (“Gate Tower”);
6 – the Commandant’s palace;
7 - St. Helena and St.Constantine Church;
8 – barracks;
9 – fortress well;
10 – Bender Gate;
11 – Yassa Gate;
12 – Ruthenian Gate;
13 – Dniester Gate (“Kamianets Gate”);
14 – Lower Gate;
15 – the north-eastern bastion;
16 – the southern bastion;
17 - the south-western bastion;
18 – the western bastion;
19 – the north-western bastion;
20 – the north-eastern bastion;
21 – wall above the stream;
22 – ruins of the 18th-century mosque;
23 - St. Alexander Nevsky Church;
24 – former military training school;
25 – bridge over the stream;
26 – the monument to Petro Sahaydachny.

St.Alexander Nevsky Church

St.Alexander Nevsky Church

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St.Alexander Nevsky Church


When we approached the fortress. St. Alexander Nevsky Church caught our eyes. The church was built in 1835. It belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church now. We also saw the ruins of the Muslim mosque that was built here in 1718 and the ruins of the military training school built in 1825.

Petro Sahaidachny monumehnt

Petro Sahaidachny monumehnt

Approaching the fortress, we saw a Cossacks monument next to it. We found out it was the monument to Peter Sahaydachny, the Cossack army's chieftain. The monument was erected near the Bender Gate in 1991 to commemorate the 370th anniversary of Khotyn Battle of 1621. The Polish-Ukrainian army fought against the Turks then.

A view of the bridge across the stream

A view of the bridge across the stream

Approaching Khotyn Castle

Approaching Khotyn Castle

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Visiting Khotyn Fortress

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According to our guide, the courtyard is raised 10 meters above the ground. The fortress has six towers with the height of 60 m each. There castle walls connect four main towers:

  • the Northern Tower that is the largest tower. People used to call it the Fortress of Fortresses. King Daniel of Halycia began to build the fortress with the Northern Tower. It is decorated with a red brick ornament.
  • the Blacksmiths’ Tower that is famous for being designed to forge weapons;
  • the Commandant's Tower, where the commandant had his private office. The tower contained two cellars: one cellar for storing weapons and another one for storing food;
  • the Eastern Tower (“the Death Tower”). It was designed to execute enemies who were thrown down from the height of 45 meters.

One of the fortress premises was given for a museum, where you can look at the guns and torture tools used centuries ago.

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Visiting the castle museum

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Visiting the castle museum

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Visiting the castle museum


It was interesting to visit the museum and to see the old chambers and ammunition. The huge canvas depicting the Battle of 1621 was also striking.

The fortress well

The fortress well

The fortress also contains a well with the depth of 65 m. You can see St. Helena and St. Constantine Church on the territory of the castle courtyard. The church dates back to the 13th century.

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Khotyn Castle_a wet spot on the wall


During your visit to the Khotyn Fortress, a strange spot on one of the walls will not escape your attention. Visitors coming to the castle for the first time, like us, are sure to pay attention to the huge wet spot. No one can say how long it has been there. They say it has been there for at least 100 years. The spot is located at a considerable height from the ground and never dries.

Khotyn Castle_a wet spot on the wall

Khotyn Castle_a wet spot on the wall


It seems like a stain of ordinary water, but the human imagination has its own explanation. Looking closely at the spot, some people see the map of Ukraine in its outline. Some others see the contour of a jug. One of the legendary versions of the appearance of the wet spot is associated with a jug. One day the fortress was besieged by enemy troops. There were no wells on the castle's territory yet, therefore the thirsty warriors were getting ready to die of thirst. However, one of the local girls decided to take her own life and to bring water from the river. Therefore, she took a jug as though it was sufficient to save the soldiers. As she came back to the fortress walls, one of the enemies noticed her and shot from a bow. The arrow hit the brave girl, but she did her best to bring the water to the soldiers. She only spilled some drop of water on the wall. That is how the mysterious spot was formed.

Khotyn Castle_a wet spot on the wall

Khotyn Castle_a wet spot on the wall

There is a creepy version of the spot appearance as well. It tells us that the spot contains girl's tears. According to a legend, a strict prince used to live in this fortress. He was looking for a good husband for his only daughter. The girl had long fallen in love with a governor who was in the service of her father. Upon learning of the daughter's connection with a commoner, the angry prince ordered to wall his daughter in one of the wall niches. It is said that the girl, bricked up in the wall, still pours bitter tears, and that spot does not dry until the lovers are united. However, scientists prove that the stain is formed of oil, or nitrate, which was a part of the powder.

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Khotyn Castle information board


The fortress is very interesting. Our guide told us that historic re-enactments were often staged there. Therefore, if you are lucky, you could even take part in a medieval battle.

The Fortress of Khotyn

Posted by Vic_IV 05:39 Archived in Ukraine Tagged khotyn

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Comments

Very interesting! I like the setting of the castle and the church, and the monument to Peter Sahaydachny is really striking :)

by ToonSarah

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