Usually, medieval castles and fortresses of Ukraine are associated with the western regions, seem too fabulous, distant and rare. Well, we must dispel these myths! In almost every region of Ukraine there are dozens of walls of ancient fortresses and castles.
Khmelnytskyi region is no exception, because, in addition to the famous Kamianets-Podilskyi fortress, there are about twenty unique historical monuments in the Khmelnytskyi region! Today we want to introduce you to some of them.
If you do not know how to spend a romantic autumn weekend – we offer you a trip to the castle Podillia, which is easiest to start with an arrival to Khmelnytskyi.
Kostiantyn Ostrozkyi founded this fortress in 1561. The building was to protect the region from the Tatar invasion. The construction of the castle took ten years, and in 1571, near the confluence of the Ikopot and the Sluch rivers, grew a steep medieval fortress. Guests of the city were led to the castle by a magnificent drawbridge. The Ostrozki castle complex had defensive towers and walls, an entrance gate and a small church with a bell tower. Under the castle walls is the coastline of the city beach, indescribable beauty!
Entrance ticket to the castle costs 30 gryvnas. You can also book a tour, the price of which ranges from 50 gryvnas, depending on the number of visitors. Working hours: 8:00-17:00, without weekends.
Following the M-12 highway towards Vinnytsia, you will pass the famous land of the Bog and the Bozhok rivers, known as Medzhybizh. This historical and cultural reserve has the second most popular fortress in Khmelnytskyi region.
The name of the village comes from its location: at this place the Southern Bug River connects with its left bay – Buzhok. And do you know that the Bug used to be called Bog (in the sense of ‘rich’ or ‘the one that flows through the rich, fertile land’)?
Some believe that the name of the river comes from the word ‘bgatyi’ – curved, nimble, crooked. In any case, the wide Bug and the more nimble Buzhok gave the name to a wonderful place with a legendary history.
The fortress is almost invisible from the road, but on the side, crossing the bridge, you will immediately see it. Next to the fortress is the XVI-XIX centuries palace of Seniavski-Chartoryiski and many other interesting elements.
An interesting fact: Baal-Shem-Tov, the founder of Hasidic Judaism, is buried in the Medzhybizh Jewish cemetery. Every August or September (before the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashanah), a large number of Hasidic Judaism pilgrims come to the tomb of the great righteous man.
The price of an entrance ticket to the fortification is 50 gryvnas for adults and 30 gryvnas for pupils and students. Interactives are waiting for the fortress visitors, in particular ‘Family excursions Marathon’. Museum working hours: from 9:00 to 18:00, without weekends. More information about the modern life of Medzhybizh can be found on the official website of the Mezhybizh State Historical and Cultural Reserveю
There is another magnificent fortress not far from Medzhybizh. The Letychiv castle and monastery complex is located next to the road and resembles a gingerbread castle, interesting not only from the outside, but also for its filling!
Letychiv is also known not only for the castle and monastery complex, but also for the burial of the ‘Ukrainian Robin Hood’ Ustym Karmaliuk and the famous fish bazaar (probably the largest in the Khmelnytskyi region).
The city lies on the Khmelnytskyi-Vinnytsia highway, about 50 km away from Khmelnytskyi. Letychiv, like a ghost town, appears in the middle of the track quite suddenly, enchants with its beauty and puzzles a little by the unexpected appearance. That is why, it is worth stopping here for at least a minute, because while driving the medieval tower will sink into the air as quickly as it appeared a moment ago. In addition to the tower, the city has a former Dominican monastery and the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Don’t miss – be sure to visit, when you will stop in Letychiv!
Most travelers go to Sutkivtsi for a famous masterpiece – the Church-Fortress of the Intercession. However, in addition to the unusual temple, there are ruins of an ancient fortress. And although there is very little left of the fortification, the ruins look very impressive. So, let's tell in more detail!
Sutkivtsi is located near Khmelnytskyi, about 6-10 km from Yarmolyntsi. The amazing building, a temple of the soul and protection of the former city – the Church-Fortress of the Intercession lives here, in a quiet natural place for several centuries already.
Why were defensive temples built? Primarily, for a quick response to the enemy, even at the most inopportune moment.
The Church-Fortress of the Intercession is very beautiful! Her whiteness enchants with contrast and unusualness on a green and yellow autumn background.
Excursions through the church-fortress are conducted by the temple abbot – Father Volodymyr.
Kamianets is beautiful at any time of the year, because the old town attracts tourists with architecture of different eras. Of course, the Kamianets-Podilskyi Fortress is the most popular building for travelers. Today, many tourists are fascinated by the successful combination of strong defensive city walls and the XII-XVIII centuries Old Castle.
It is also worth noting the ideal view of the New Castle fortification complex, built in the XVII century. Who would have thought that this complex is almost the only surviving example of this type fortifications. And what a beautiful castle bridge! Young tourists are told that legendary Lake Amadoka once overflowed on the site of the fortress and the bridge. Whether this is the case or not is unknown, but when October paints the plants in warm colors, it is a pleasure to contemplate this fiery land!
At the Kamianets-Podilskyi Historical Museum-Reserve you can go through many interesting quests-excursions and even get married in a day! Working hours: from 9:00 to 17:00.
The full list of quest tours can be viewed at the link.
Zhvanets was always between two fires. Initially, the border town was being tossed between the Russian and the Austro-Hungarian empires, and later stood on the corner of three countries – Romania, Soviet Ukraine and Poland. Today Zhvanets no longer has the status of a town, but remains a large village with a legendary history on the banks of the Dnister River.
Zhvanets Castle was built in the middle of the XV century here, and was involved in a significant number of historical battles. The castle was often rebuilt, but unfortunately, fortification was complete destructed in the twentieth century.
Today only the northern tower of the castle has survived. It is located on the steep slope of the Dnister River and has an interesting sentimental view. In general, the shore of Zhvanets resembles Moominvalley, even the tower in general outlines resembles the Moominhouse. When the autumn sun fills the slope with yellow, like lime tea, light – Zhvanets seems to be the most beautiful place on the planet.
The distance from Khmelnytskyi to Zhvanets is 118 km, the fastest and most comfortable way to get to the village is on the highway N03.
There is another lost in time medieval building, which is located not far from the Sataniv sanatorium, almost 80 kilometers away from Khmelnytskyi. There was a magnificent pentagonal fortress, about 600 years ago on a high hill on the Zbruch River banks, on the corners of which there were towers, and between the towers were walls. Today, only three towers remain from the castle, one of which is located under the hill, and two others remain to guard the high Zbruch bank.
Sataniv is incredibly beautiful – there are artificial waterfalls, picturesque forests, a rapid Zbruch stream and several recreation areas.
The village is permeated with fragments of different eras, which are constantly found underfoot, in the devastated walls of a synagogue or the castle.
When the forests are covered in yellow blankets, Sataniv will change beyond recognition and seductively meet romantic tourists.
Thus, the Khmelnytskyi region is rich in fortifications, which look especially good against the background of contrasting early autumn. Travelers who decide to spend their vacation in the land of the Bog and the Bozhok rivers or on the shores of Zbruch and Smotrych rivers, will not regret for a moment about their choice.
In addition, natural photo zones and sentimental tourism always inspire and leave behind a lot of pleasant memories for winter evenings!
Travel from Khmelnytskyi, explore Ukraine and share your impressions!
Authors of the text: Yuliia Rakhno and Sergii Tolstikhin,
More interesting information about Podillia can be found on the page of Khmelnytskyi Tourist Information Center
Author of the photos: Serhii Zysko