There is a legend about Kamyanets-Podilsky, which has been existing from the time of the Turkish expansion. “Who built this fortified town?” asked a surprised commander. “God himself,” was the answer. “So let God himself conquer it!”said the Turkish sultan Osman II in 1621 and retreated. Everyone who at least once visited Kamyanets-Podilsky would like to visit it again. Taking into account the fact that Podolia’s coat of arms is the Sun, you will be almost guaranteed fine weather and mood. The city’s magnetism consists in the original combination of climate, the character of its residents and architectural monuments around. Whatever the authors of numerous panegyrics may assert, everything will look banal as compared with the realia that wait for a traveler in this pearl of European civilization. The number of historical relics is so great that we can dwell only upon the main of them. The circumstances of Kamyanets’ foundation remain to be the object of discussion. Archaeological digs send us to the epoch of glaciers and mammoths. Modern versions convince us that the city’s central section was built in compliance with the Roman metric system. Sometimes it is identified with the Dacian settlement of Clepidavi marked on the map by geographer Ptolemy. First written reference to the settlement was made in the Armenian source of 1062.
However that may be, but people estimated the evident advantage of the settlement’s location in olden times. In the 12 th-13 th centuries Kamyanets was part of the Galician-Volhynian principality, from 1362 it became the property of Princes Koriatovyches. In 1432 the city was granted the Magdeburg Law and became part of Polish state. Intermediary trade between the East and West attracted there Armenian and Jewish merchants. Settled in the city, their communities created their own districts. Changes took place after the Turks seized Podolia. The garrison under Khalil-pasha held the fortress and the city from 1672 to 1699. After the Turks withdrew, Kamyanets remained abandoned and neglected. At the close of the 18 th century the city passed into the possession of Russia. An interesting period in the history of Kamyanets was 1920 when it became the capital of Ukrainian government headed by Symon Petliura for several months. Today, having a good industrial potential, the city is rapidly developing as a tourist center. A stroll around Kamyanets should be divided into two parts: sightseeing of the old town (2-3 hours), and visiting the fortress (1 hour). Rynok (Market) Square was the center of city life. Properly speaking there are several markets in the city, but the main one, Polish Market, is notable for the fact that there survived the building of the town hall (1 Polsky Rynok).
The structure acquired its modern appearance in 1916, when the administrative two-storied building was joined to the tower located at a distance of three meters. In 1754 the commandant and a talented architect, Jan de Vitte, gave it baroque forms. A memorial plaque above the entrance evinces the results of restoration. In the past stone, wooden and fachwerke shop-buildings encircled the square. It was the site of the most important events of public life. In the 19 th century different sides of the square acquired their own names: Birzha (Exchange), Sukonka,Zhuravlivka and Sharlotka (the latter was derived from the name of the shop owner who advertised the latest examples of European fashion). Besides the town hall there is the Armenian well built of stone (1581,1638). According to a legend its foundation is ascribed to the Armenian merchant Narses who bequeathed money for the construction of public water conduit. Cut through a rock, the well was 55 m. deep and 3 m. in diameter. Unfortunately, water proved undrinkable because of a great concentration of salt, so it was used mainly for technical needs. The octahedral pavilion above the well was raised in the mid-18 th century. Not far away from the square, in front of the entrance to the town hall, stands the former Franciscan Church (1616; 8Frantsiskan-ska St.). A legend of the wonder-working icon of St. Anthony is linked with this temple. According to it Khalil-pasha, during a Turkish assault, entered this church on horseback and hit the icon with his saber. The icon withstood, but the scar that remained began to emanate myrrh. In Soviet times the church was converted into a factory, and only now it has been renewed as an Orthodox church. At the northwestern corner of Polish Market, in place of the present-day public garden, the was situated Cathedral Square, its name being derived from the Roman Catholic Church of SS. Peter and Paul (20Tatarska St. On week-days celebration is held at 8.00 in Polish, at 11.00, in Ukrainian. On Sunday: 8.30 in Polish, 12.00 in Ukrainian).
To get to the temple you should walk through the triumphal arch (architect A. Krasynsky) built in honor of Stanislaw August’s visit to the sanctuary and the city in 1781. The Roman Catholic diocese was organized in the city in 1375 by order of king Ludwig of Hungary. Father Pavlo of Boyanchych started the construction of a Gothic Roman Catholic church in the city in 1428-1453. It is assumed that initially the altar was in place of the present-day main entrance. Pontiff Jacob continued construction work from 1510 through 1517, adding lateral naves to the altar. Another bishop, L.Slonczewski, adorned the structure with two chapels. In 1672 the Turks converted the Roman Catholic Church into a mosque. The interior decor was annihilated, and on the eastern side, on the foundation of the chapel, a minaret was built. The blind muezzin had to overcome a hundred and fifty stairs every day to glorify Allah. The Turks liquidated the Christian cemetery near the walls of the temple as well. When the Christians returned, they placed the figure of the Man of Sorrows in its place. However, after the Turks left the city, the minaret was not destroyed, for its conservation was one of the terms of Karlovy peace treaty. However, the new bishop, M.Dembowski, found an original way of demonstrating the Christians’ victory. During major repairs of the temple he ordered in Gdansk a bronze figure of the Virgin (4.5 m. high) and placed it on May 10, 1756, on top of the minaret. Gilded in the 1990 s, the figure stands leaning against the globe and crescent. A halo of 12 stars is around her head. During the temple’s existence the figure was endangered as well. In 1820 a thunderbolt hit the foot of the statue, and in 1823 a strong storm nearly turned it over. Of certain interest may be the Gothic annexes of the 19 th century on the right side of the temple. In 1866, by order of Russian czar Alexander II, the Kamyanets episcopacy was liquidated and the bishop was forbidden to stay in the city. It was only in 1918, during the Ukrainian People’s Rupublic, that father Benedict XV restored the episcopacy. In the period of the predatory policy of Soviet power the Roman Catholic Church lost many of its sacral and historical values. In particular the saber adorned with precious stones that had belonged to the famous defender of the fortress, Yu. Volodievsky, was stolen. A monument to him stands in the park before the church. From 1946 to 1990 the department of atheism of the local historical museum was located in the Roman Catholic Church. Now it is a functioning Roman Catholic Church and one of the major tourist zests of the city. The Ukrainian, Armenian, Jewish and Polish communities were the main ones that formed in Kamyanets in the 15 th -16 th centuries. Each of them had good chances for their economic and social development. However, Polish authorities did their utmost to oust the Ukrainians to the unattractive northern section of the city located near the Ruskyi market. In 1658, because of the plans to build new fortifications, the Ukrainian city council was moved, by order of Polish king Kazimirz, to the economic “Kyrianke house” Previously it was a praying house. The Ukrainian community had legal autonomy to 1670, when, under the pretext of “putting it on a par” with the Poles, it was liquidated de facto. The building of the Ruskyi city council (9 PyatnytskaSt.) has survived all military disasters and is one of the most interesting memorials in the city. Its facade is adorned with an exquisite d?cor.
The Armenians are one of the major national elements of the city’s former glory. These enterprising arrivals quickly absorbed the local market of oriental goods, ousting others from it. Important commercial contracts were concluded at the Armenian market. As a rule they were signed at the Armenian city council the building of which has not been preserved. Within the city the Armenians had their own district; each of the buildings being encircled by high walls and turned into a small fortress. It was a real tragedy for this community when the Turks seized the city. In part the Armenian residents perished, others moved to Lviv and other localities. Several interesting architectural relics of the Armenian district have survived to out time. The construction of St. Nicholas Cathedral (1 Virmenska St.) started in the 14 th century. In 1666 the Catholic Armenian community took charge of it. During the Turkish rule the temple was ruined. Its restoration lasted from 1756 to 1767. Unfortunately, in the 1930 s the militant atheists completed its ruination. Today only the remains of the columns at the entrance designate that the temple had a whole gallery of such columns and arches. On the right side the yard is enclosed with a stone wall. From of old the premises of Armenian warehouses (Mykolaivska St.) were located there, the remains of which can be seen today. In the past the temple was famous for its wonder-working icon of the Virgin (10 th cent.). It had a great library. In 1891 the greater part of manuscripts was taken to the scientific library in St. Petersburg. In spite of all destruction the temple continues to surprise you with its secrets. In the early 1980 s a treasure of gold and silver goods was discovered under its foundation. Part of them is on display at the local historical museum. The Church of St. Nicholas of the 12 th-13 th centuries (1 Mykolaivsky Lane) is one of the oldest Armenian structures in the city. Most researchers believe that the temple was built in the late Romanesque in 1398 on money of the Armenian Sinan, the son of Kotlubey. On the Armenian cross embedded into the buttress, on the northern side of the temple, there is the date of repair (1544), and the name of Akop. During the Turkish occupation the temple was damaged, and was restored in 1701 on money of the Armenian Bohdan Liatynovych, and in 1804, on money of the Armenian community. During the restoration of the late 19 th century there were discovered stone walls in the form of flying buttresses with a passage and a wooden narthex. From 1962 to the early 1990 s the temple was closed. Now it belongs to the Orthodox Church (Moscow patriarchy). Monk-Trinitarians appeared in Kamyanets-Podilsky in 1699, immediately after the city was liberated from the Turks. The main assignment of the order, founded in 1198, was to liberate captive Christians. In the course of their activities they managed to redeem 517 of them. There is information that in 1717 their monastery and the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity were functioning in Kamyanets-Podilsky. In 1750-1765 the temple was rebuilt of stone and consecrated by the bishop A.Krasynsky.The facade of the single-nave temple is adorned with the figure of Jesus Christ and the sculptures of slaves fettered with chains. Unfortunately, the interior murals have not been preserved. The author of the murals was the monk-Trinitarian Yu. Prakhtel. In 1843 the monastery was destroyed. The Roman Catholic Church was damaged during World War II. Now it is the Greek-Catholic Church of St. Josaphat (1 a Starobulvarna St.). In the early 14 th century monk-Dominicans appeared in Podolia. In 1370, with the support of Prince Svydryhailo, they founded a monastery in Kamyanets-Podilsky. The single-nave Roman Catholic Church of St. Nicholas was built in the territory of the monastery. In 1420 the temple burnt down. They managed to save only the wonder-working icon of the Virgin. The family of Potocki was the main benefactor of the monastery. During the Turkish rule the monastery was converted into barracks, and the church, into a mosque. It was there that the Moslem pulpit was brought from Constantinople, and stood as a museum exhibit for many years at the Roman Catholic Church of SS. Paul and Peter. According to oral tradition there was the “fountain of tears” built by order of the governor-general Galil-pasha in memory of his late daughter. It was made in the form of a stone stele with engraved bowls into which water fell like teardrops. In the 18 th century, on money of M. Potocki, the temple was thoroughly rebuilt (arch. Jan de Vitte). In 1843 the monastery was liquidated, giving place in turn to a theological seminary, police, district court, prison, and a poor-asylum. After World War II it was also used for specific purposes. In 1993 the temple’s roof burnt down. In 1997 the Roman Catholic Church was transferred to the Catholic community. The castle is separated from the city with a large vacant territory. This gap was envisaged deliberately to evade the city’s ruination in case of an enemy assault or a siege. The Armenian bastion was an intermediate defensive link. Built in the form of an open hexagon it is about 12 meters high. Its main function was to defend the bridge and Rusky and Polish manors. In the 18 th century it was named the “Bastion of St. Theresa.” For the last time it was reconstructed in 1730-1740 by the engineer Kh. Dalke. The fortress (1 Zamkova St. Museum) is a key to Kamyanets-Podilsky. Situated on a rocky projection, it blocked access to the city. The canyon that encircles the old town, 100 to 300 meters wide and 30-40 meters high, made it impossible for an enemy to undermine the fortress or to carry out any engineering work. With the help of hydraulic structures – the Rusky and Polish dams – the valley of the river could be quickly flooded, thereby increasing defensive potential. In the course of its existence the fortress was seized only twice. For the first time it was in 1393, when Lithuanian Prince Vitovt availed himself of plotters’ assistance.For the second time, in 1672, when the Turkish army outnumbered defenders almost 60 times. It is assumed that the initial defensive walls were built in the 11 th century. The western section is considered the oldest one, which was built up in the time of the Galician-Volhynian state. However, a well-considered planning and building-up began in the 15 th century. Seven towers were built under the supervision of the Italian architect Kamilius. In the latter half of the 16 th century the military engineer lov Pretfus (Pretvych) carried out the first serious reconstruction, fortifying the walls and the towers. Altogether there were 18 objects within the fortress complex. The walls of the old fortress are 336 meters long. In some places they are 17.5 meters high and 4 meters thick. In 1620-1621 the engineer T.Shomberg built a New castle of a bastion type in the most vulnerable place of the fortress, which suffered badly from Turkish invasion. Fatal events befell the fortress and the city in 1672 when the troops under sultan Mekhmet IV and hetman P.Doroshenko seized the fortress. The victors entered the fortress on horseback and rode along the city’s streets. According to a legend the Turks flung icons under the horses’ hoofs, and people said that God would never pardon Doroshenko for such an outrage. And the prophecy did come true. The Turks attached great importance to Kamyanets-Podilsky, which is proved by the sultan’s words to the effect that the seizure of the fortress meant that one eye of Rzeczpospolita was smashed, and the seizure of Lviv would open the way to Europe. Fortunately, Lviv withstood the siege. Nevertheless, the fall of Kamyanets produced in Europe a tremendous impression bordering on panic. After a strenuous struggle Poland was forced to sign a disgraceful Buchach peace treaty under which almost the whole of Podolia passed to Turkey. In 1699, after the Turks were driven out, Kamyanets again became part of Rzeczpospolita. In 1819, after the partition of Poland, when Kamyanets passed to Russia, the fortress was converted into a provincial prison. It was the beginning of neglect and great ruination that was stopped in the latter half of the 20 th century, when systematic restoration of the memorial fortress began. The Turkish Bridge in Kamyanets is a prominent historical monument. Scholars maintain that its foundation remembers the Roman times. The bridge is 27 meters above river-level. In 1544 a special canal was built under the bridge, which regulated the level of water in case of flood. In 1685-1686, liquidating the damages of 1672, French engineers carried out its reconstruction, using stones from the dismantled Carmelite cloister. It is assumed that the Turks strangled Hetman Yu. Khmelnytsky there and threw his body down from the bridge. Another legend maintains that the Turks, retreating from the city, tried to take out a whole coach of gold. In a crush of carts and coaches it fell from the bridge, and since then brave spirits have been trying to find the treasure at the bottom of the Smotrych River. In the territory of the museum a number of major historical monuments deserve special attention. At the entrance on the left there are the remains of a hole, which served as a debtor’s prison. In different times there were various sacral structures in the territory of the fortress. Under Princes Koriatovyches the Intercession Church stood in the yard. In 1575 the fortress headman M. Brzhevsky arranged the chapel of Archangel Michael in the Denna (Day’s) tower, and under Headman Mykola Potocki there was a small Roman Catholic Church of St. Stanislaw near the Pope’s tower, which the Turks converted into a mosque. A Lutheran church was organized for the gunners who were mainly German mercenaries. Unfortunately, none of these structures has been preserved. All the towers of the fortress have interesting and characteristic names, which speak of their origin and purpose. The Pope’s tower is followed by Kovpak (high cap) tower (1544), which really looks like a high sharp-pointed cap.There is little information about Tenchynska tower. Its building is linked with the name of Krakow castellan Jan Tenchinski who was sent by the king to the city to exercise supervision. Denna tower was reconstructed in 1544. It was the biggest one in the fortress and was used as living quarters for the gunners. The towers Rozhanka, Mala, Komendantska, Liantskoronska, performing their functions, formed a single defensive system of the fortress. The tower Laska was founded by bishop Jan Lasky, which is proved by a memorial plaque and a moralizing inscription that follows: “Loyal friend is a rarity that is rarer than a phoenix. “The Vodiana tower is located outside the main fortress over the bank of the Smotrych and can be viewed if you climb up the wall. A secret underground passage, of which only the castellan and sub-castellan were informed, connected it with the fortress. The New eastern tower (1544, arch. I.Pretfus) deserves special attention. Within the tower there is a well 40 meters deep. Water was lifted by means of a device that was turned by soldiers. Nearby there was supposedly the Chorna tower in which Yu. Wolodiewski died during an explosion. The walls on the side of the Smotrych River are embedded with stone cannon-balls. The builders made it on purpose to convince a probable enemy of the fortress’s impregnability. Another fortification of the city (after the fortress) is a system of gates. The Rusky gate (95 Ruska St.) was built in 1527 on the slopes of the canyon and provided the shortest connection of the Old town with Rusky estates. This complex defensive and water engineering system was made up of eight towers and defensive walls. Moving to the right from the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul you will get to the Upper Polish gate, which was built in 1585 and made up of towers and walls. One of them was called Bathory Tower. In the mid-18 th century the construction began to lose its significance and started to ruin. The reconstruction of 1785 proved useless. At that time gates were built on to the towers, one of which was called Vitriana (Windy).The bastions located nearby were reconstructed during the Turkish occupation and have been preserved to our time.