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Top 8 Most Beautiful Castles and Fortresses in Ukraine

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Photo: Top 8 Most Beautiful Castles and Fortresses in Ukraine. Source: lvivgallery.org.ua
Photo: Top 8 Most Beautiful Castles and Fortresses in Ukraine. Source: lvivgallery.org.ua

The territory of Ukraine has long served as a shield and protection from conquerors for European countries and cities. To this day, there is plenty of evidence of this - ancient castles and fortresses in every oblast and region, most of which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Ukraine used to have more than 5,000 fortification monuments. However, there is no trace of most of them today. There are 116 castles and fortresses left. We have selected 8 of the best-preserved and most beautiful of them so that you can get acquainted with the ancient culture of Ukraine's defenders.


Genoese fortress. Crimea


The fortress in the city of Sudak (Crimea, Ukraine) was built by the Genoese from 1371 to 1460. Not even the Ottoman Empire could storm it. Since the 13th century, Sudak, Cembalo and present-day Feodosia, which was then called Kafa, have been colonies of the rich and influential Italian city-state of Genoa. The stones of the fortress buildings were fastened with a special mortar that was elastic, so its walls were not afraid of even earthquakes. Since 1958, the Sudak Fortress has been a part of the St Sophia of Kyiv National Reserve.

After the occupation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, the fortress is controlled by the Russians as a state budgetary institution. The Russian occupiers began to build hotel rooms and additional toilets on the territory. As a result, in 2015, one of the towers of the fortress collapsed.  


Lutsk Castle. Volyn region


Lubart's Castle, or Lutsk Castle, is deservedly considered a tourist attraction of Lutsk. The castle was built by the last Grand Duke of the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia, Dmytro Lubart, in 1340-1383 and served as his residence. Over time, the fortification became a favourite place of the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Vytautas. In the winter of 1429, it was here that Vytautas hosted a congress of diplomatic embassies and monarchs of Central and Eastern Europe. For centuries, Lutsk's Upper Castle remained a powerful fortress, an administrative, political, and spiritual capital. Recently, as part of the Creative Europe project, the unique castle of Lithuanian Prince Lubart in Lutsk was digitised.


Uzhhorod Castle. Transcarpathian region


The castle is located at the very top of the Castle Hill and proudly stands over the historic heart of Uzhhorod. It is one of the most valuable military historical buildings in Zakarpattia. In the VIII century, even before the castle appeared, there was a settlement of White Croats on the top of the local mountain. A little later, in the late 9th and early 10th centuries, a wooden fort was built here, which housed the residence of Prince Laborec. However, after an attack by the Hungarians, the fortress was burned down and rebuilt by them some time later. After that, in the 14th century, the castle was given to the Italian Drugeth dynasty as a gift from the Hungarian king. In the 17th century, Uzhhorod Castle was besieged many times, in particular during numerous peasant revolts and religious confrontations. The last siege took place during the national liberation movement against the Austrian Habsburg dynasty, led by the Hungarian nobleman Ferenc Rákóczi II. Today, the castle is used as a local history museum.


Kamianets-Podilskyi castle. Khmelnytskyi region


The Kamianets-Podilskyi fortress has no analogues in Europe. It is built on a rocky peninsula in the Smotrych River canyon and is part of the Kamianets Historical and Architectural Reserve. The fortress itself is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and is also among the 7 Wonders of Ukraine. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ukraine, attracting visitors from all over the world. It is believed that the construction of the fortress began in the 14th century. However, some sources have mentions of the fortress dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Throughout its history, the castle has only twice been invaded by the enemy: during the Mongol-Tatar invasion in 1240 and during the Polish-Turkish war of 1672-1676, when the city voluntarily surrendered to the Turks.


Khotyn fortress. Chernivtsi region


This fortress, built in the town of Khotyn, Chernivtsi region, by Prince Volodymyr Sviatoslavych more than 1000 years ago, has remained virtually unchanged since then. Located on the hilly right bank of the Dniester River in Khotyn, the fortification complex consists of a 13th-century fortress and an 18th-century bastion that surrounds it. The first mention of this fortress dates back to the 9th century. As the castle has been preserved in its authentic state to this day, it is often used for the Battle of Nations jousting tournaments and historical films. It truly conveys the atmosphere of the times of heroic ancestors.


Pidhirtsi Castle. Lviv region  


Pidhirtsi Castle is one of the best examples in Europe of a combination of a palace with bastion fortifications in the late Renaissance and Baroque styles. The castle ensemble also includes a 13th-century inn, a mid-13th-century church, and a park that is a monument of landscape art of national importance. The castle was built in 1635-1640 by the architect Andrea del Acava with the participation of the engineer Guillaume de Beauplan. It is surrounded by a park on all sides and is distinguished by the integrity of its artistic design, which makes it one of the most beautiful castles in Ukraine. Today, the castle is on the World Heritage List in need of restoration. According to a local legend, the castle's cellars are haunted by the ghost of a woman.


Akkerman Fortress. Odesa region


Another ancient memorial fortress located in Ukraine in the city of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Odesa region, is one of the best preserved in Ukraine and the largest in Eastern Europe.  According to one version, it was built in the 13th century by master Fedirko and still remains one of the largest and most powerful fortresses in the South. For centuries, it has kept its walls almost intact. There are many legends associated with this fortress. The Akkerman Fortress is special because it is also home to the remains of the ancient city of Tira (late 6th century BC - 4th century AD) and the medieval city of Bilhorod. Nowadays, a museum-reserve operates on the territory of the fortress.


 Sharivskyi castle. Kharkiv region


This white stone building of the late XIX century resembles a fairy-tale palace. The castle got its name from the village of Sharivka, where it is located. Once upon a time, the small village and the surrounding land belonged to a wealthy family. They built their estate here - a real residence. Despite the fact that the castle has been abandoned for a long time, it still retains its appeal. The decorative elements, rich mouldings, and painted ceiling lamps have been preserved. From the castle, terraces lead to Sharivskyi Park, where ancient oaks, blue fir trees, and ash trees grow. Some oaks are about 600 years old. There are also picturesque ponds in the park. Tourist activity in the estate has been virtually suspended due to the Russian war.

You can also see seven of the most romantic places in Europe.   


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