10 Ukrainian Castles to be Seen by Every Foreign Tourist
Castles are perhaps the most interesting objects a boisterous history has left for Ukraine. In general, there are more than a hundred of them, but those that correspond to the majority’s representation of the castle are few – the rest are in a state of ruin. Some were destroyed in turbulent military battles; others were ruined by both man and time. There are so many basements of village hut in Podillia that are made of stones from majestic fortresses… So many roads and fences have been built from these stones… Some castles are so mutilated that without a reconstructed image it’s hard to guess what they used to be.
But in Ukraine there are castles and fortresses that you can admire and be proud of. The majestic strongholds, the powerful walls which stood for centuries and will still amaze our descendants, deserve to be seen. This list is a kind of recommendation on which castles and fortresses of Ukraine should be considered first and foremost. So, we start from the end.
10 Best Ukrainian Castles
10. Zbarazh Castle (Zbarazh, Ternopil region)
There is no other region in Ukraine with so many castles Ternopil region than; unfortunately most of them are far from being in their best condition. Some are very devastated, others were rebuilt and do not look like castles at all: psychiatric hospitals, hospitals, service stations…
The castle in Zbarazh is undoubtedly the best preserved and restored castle in the most “castle” area of our motherland. Although the bastions of the Zbarazh castle are still “without head”, but this is already a remarkable attraction – in addition to the spectacular ditches and walls; there are also exhibitions and museums, and the castle project has been designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, world-famous Italian architect.
9. Uzhgorod castle
It is located in the very heart of the polyethnic city, which is now the center of the Zakarpatska region. Another well-known name of Uzhhorod, Ungvar, came to us from the distant X century, when the Hungarian horde defeated locals, white Croats, and seized Transcarpathia.
The castle is beautifully preserved. Although it does not have tall walls and towers, it is still one of the most visited tourist objects of Transcarpathia. They come here to feel the spirit of the ancient traditions of the white Croats, Magyars, Austrians, Germans, Czechs, Slovaks, and, of course, Rusyn-Ukrainians who ruled in Ungvar. They come here hoping, in particular, to see the ghost of White Virgin which is standard for many castles.
Today there is a museum in the castle. It has incredible collection of Carpathian musical instruments. The fabulous painting of the family chapel does not leave anyone indifferent either, same as the wine cellars.
8. Medzhybiz (village Medzhybizh, Khmelnytsky region)
Among the great spectacular castles, Medzhybiz castle is the one closest to Kiev: if you go through Zhytomyr, Berdychiv and Khmilnyk, it is about 315 km drive. In Berdychev there are also spectacular fortifications, but that is a monastery, not a castle.
In 2001, Medzhybiz castle became a part of historical and cultural reserve; however, it did not help to save the lateral wall of the castle. The castle in general is, to put it mildly, not in the best condition, but its dimensions andits color (perhaps due to the peeling of the walls) make this historic fortress between the Southern Bug and Bugok rivers an excellent tourist attraction. It is especially true considering the fact that today Medzhybyz is the world center of the Hasidim: the legendary Beshta is buried here.
7. Svirzh (Peremyshlyany district, Lviv region)
It is not only travelers who are interested in Svirz Castle, located on a hill called Belz, surrounded by ponds and swamps. Back in Soviet times it became a well-known object of cinematography. In particular, a lot of scenes from the blockbuster “D’Artagnan and three musketeers” were shot there, and it was here that the poor Constance Bonacieux spent her lastdays when she was poisoned by Milady. ” Constance, Constance, Constance”, – sung in Svirzh a lover and a hero of Boyarsky who was broken by grief.
Bethune monastery, the residence of the executioner, the estate of D’Artagnan in Gascony and the Saint-Germain Bastion in La Rochelle – all these four roles were given to the Svirzhsky castle. Unfortunately, the present status of this fairy-tale building does not correspond to its beauty and grandeur. One can say that it is empty, though they were going to open a resting-house of the Union of Architects here.
6. Olesky castle (Olesko, Lviv region)
It’s been more than six centuries since the appearance of a castle on a high hill in Olesko. Probably, it was built by Prince Yuriy Danilovich, but nobody can say for sure.
What exactly can be said about the castle is that it is one of the most famous in Lviv region, and one of the smallest in size, but the best-groomed castles in Ukraine. In addition to the museum, there is a very prestigious restaurant with medieval interiors, designed not only for Ukrainians but also for Polish guests. And the Poles go here, because Jan III Sobieski, the most famous of their kings, the defeater of the Turks near Vienna was born in this castle.
When visiting the Olesky castle Capuchin monastery with a park of sculptures is the extraordinary bonus.
5. Lutsk castle
This fortress was built on the site of wooden fortifications of the Russian princes. The construction was started by Lithuanian Prince Lyubart (that’s why the castle is named after him), but Witold and Svidrigailo continued works and finished the castle.
Probably the brightest example of medieval defensive architecture in Ukraine once consisted of two parts: the Upper and Lower castles. The lower, with much larger area, dissolved among the other buildings – only a few sections of the walls and one tower are left. But the Upper castle is pretty good preserved. Huge towers and walls of the Castle of Lubart hide interesting museums and dungeons. You can climb the towers: two more impressive Lutsk monuments can be seen from them – the Jesuit monastery and the church.
4. Bilgorod-Dnistrovsky, Akkerman fortress (Odessa region)
The fortress over the Dniester estuary, on the ruins of the ancient city of Thira, was laid by the Genoese in the thirteenth century – there was a castle left after them; later it was used as a citadel.
The main part of the largest medieval fortress in Ukraine was built by Moldovans. In the Moldovan period, the city was called Chetyataya Alba (The White Fortress) – it was one of the main trading settlements of the Northern Black Sea Coast.
Those days the fortress had 34 towers and was an impregnable stronghold; nevertheless, it could not resist the gigantic army of Turks and Tatars. In the 15th century, the latter became the masters of the city, and Ackerman it called (again The White Fortress, but in Turkic). It was during the Ottoman period that the fortress acquired its modern look.
3. Palanok Castle (Mukacheve, Zakarpatska region)
In the middle of a broad plain, which is the valley of the Latoritsi River, in the southwestern part of Mukachevo, there is a mountain. The top of the mountain are decorated by the towers of the old castle. There are not many monuments in Ukraine like this.
For almost a thousand years in the history of the fortress Rusyns-Ukrainians, Hungarians, Wallachians, Austrians and other peoples shed sweat and blood in its mighty walls. Palanok survived hundreds of assaults and sieges. It changed its owners many times; it was ruined and rebuilt. From the end of the seventeenth century Palanok served as an Austrian prison, and in the Soviet period there was a vocational school.
Today it is undoubtedly one of the most famous Ukrainian castles – well-groomed, with a bunch of museums, souvenir shops, coffee shops and wine cellars inside.
2. Kamyanets-Podilskyi (Khmelnytsky region)
The most famous castle in Ukraine is located in the city named after it – Kamenets-Podilsky (although the second half of the name should be deleted a long time ago due to the absence of any other Kamyanets in Ukraine).
For centuries, medieval fortress, located on a steep rocky hill above the canyon of the Smotrych River fascinated people with its size and incredible fabulousness. This is the standard of the castle that we draw in our imagination. And if you look at the castle and fortress from the Smotrych canyon, you will not even believe this is in Ukraine.
1. Khotyn (Chernivtsi region)
This castle is a movie star among the castles of Ukraine; it is the main medieval castle of Soviet films. La Rochelle, Torquilston, Mot – in Soviet movies all this is one place. The famous Soviet filmmaker Bortko decided to turn the castle into Dubensky castle, since this Dubensky castle is not so cinematic. Therefore, the Cossacks in the “Taras Bulba” attacked the “Polish” castle, which was in fact Moldovan-Turkish. However, the truth is that Cossacks never attacked Khotyn; on the contrary, led by a large Hetman Sagaidachny they heroically defended it.
Like the Ackerman Fortress, Khotynsky was built by Moldovans who owned it for two centuries. Stefan the Great (on all Moldovan money) made the Khotyn fortress look we see it today – an incredible impregnable stronghold. Any country can proud of such a castle, and we are proud that it is located in Ukraine.
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