“Who built this Fortress?” asked Ottoman Sultan Osman II after unsuccessful trial to capture Kamyanets Podilsky in 1621. Someone answered “The God himself.” And Sultan said «Then let the God himself capture the city!” This is what the legend relays about the powerful and impregnable citadel.
Little light still has been shed on the question about who built the castle on this spot initially. Archeological version suggests there was a ground fortress nearby in the times of Kievan Rus. It is also proved that wooden fortifications were built on the place of the fortress as early as the end of the 12th century. The first written evidence of the castle dates to the end of the 14th century when Kamenets was a property of Lithuanian Prince Yuriy Koryatovich.
This unique stronghold towers atop a high hill with the Smotrych River skirting around and carving a perfect natural moat. Narrow neck of the bridge over the river was the only entrance to the Castle. The Castle has been gradually fortified during the 15-16th centuries to become a fortress with armor of limestone and brick, secure thick walls topped with high stone towers. Thus the name Kamenets, referring to Slavic word stone. New constructions met needs of the major fortification of the Polish - Lithuanian Commonwealth Eastern Frontier and successfully repelled Cossack, Ottoman and Tatar attacks. By the end of the 16th century the Castle has mostly gained its nowadays look. In result of numerous fortification and reconstruction works there has appeared a New Castle portion of the Fortress to rebuff artillery attacks. The Old Castle was designed mostly to protect direct enemy ground assaults. Unapproachable stronghold was defeated only once – by Ottomans supported by Cossacks and Tatars in the end of the 17th century when Osman rule was established in Podil for 27 years. The Kamenets Castle served as a fortress till the very beginning of the 18th century when it has lost its defensive role and became a military prison. National folk hero Ustym Karmaliuk was imprisoned in here many times and each time managed to escape successfully. Probably he knew some secret underground tunnels so often mentioned in the numerous Castle legends.
Nowadays the Castle is a part of the National Historical reserve Kamenets, place for festivals and historical reconstruction role playing. Medieval architects, engineers and military commanders admired the Kamenets citadel. It is very likely you would be charmed too when you visit the Kamyanets-Poldilsky Castle.
First of all, let me apologize for being so long in writing to THANK YOU for the superb organization of our wonderful stay in the Ukraine back in August. We have nothing but praise for the professional yet very friendly way in which everybody treated us and keep fond memories of all the people who helped make our stay so special!
I'd like to wish you in particular a Merry Christmas and a very happy New
Year! It's a shame we met for such a short time, but your invisible hand
was looking after us all throughout the trip and was instrumental and making
you country an unforgettable experience for us!
I'd also be most grateful if you could pass the message on to Alex in Kiev
who took such good care of us and to his charming wife Victoria whom we've
had the pleasure of meeting at our request.
Merry Christmas and once again Thanks for everything!