Quiet green fields surround the Khotyn Fortress on the high bank of the Dnister River, with serene blue skies above. Fairytale looking fortress amid charming and peaceful landscape contrasts the thousand-year history of the place, name of which supposedly went from Slavic word “wanted, sought-after”. No surprise, Khotyn always used to be an attractive piece of land and many bloody battles happened around it.
Wooden fortifications have appeared here as early as in the 11th century at will of Volodymyr the Great to make a strong link in the chain of fortresses on the southwestern frontier of Kievan Rus. In the 13th century Khotyn becomes the main western fort of the Halych-Volhynian Kingdom. Recalcitrant Prince Danylo of Galych commands to dress the wooden walls with stone. The small fortification of those times became the strongest portion of the fortress in its future history. In the next century Khotyn becomes part of Principality of Moldavia, Stephen III the Great expands the fortress sufficiently and builds 40-meter high and 5-meter thick walls. Starting from the end of the 16th century the Khotyn Fortress has been possessed by the Turks, Polish and Moldovans. Each time it was ruined to be rebuilt and reconstructed to become stronger and mightier. The last reconstruction was made by Turks in collaboration with French military engineers in the beginning of the 18th century, and the Khotyn Fortress became the strongest European fort of the Ottoman Empire. Though by the middle of the 18th century the fortress defensive role weakens, it becomes a battlefield in the Russo-Turkish war for several times. In 1856, already a part of the Russian Empire, the Khotyn fortress ceased being a military object. But still battles and wars has been always right near these old walls – such a hard luck of the “sought-after, wanted” frontier town and fortress.
Each historical event, work of people of many nations, remarkable engineering and architectural art has summed up to make the fortress a great sightseeing object – wooden bridge with a secret trap, high walls and towers, Prince Castle with red brick ornament, 68-meter deep well, extensive underground tunnels, dungeon…”Where is a ghost?” one would ask. There should be one. Someone keeps a big spot on the wall wet. No scientific explanation to the wet spot on the wall. But many legends easily explain it. You will hear it for yourself when you visit the Khotyn Fortress.