October 30, 2012

Khotyn Fortress

The Khotyn Fortress (Ukrainian: Хотинська фортеця, Polish: twierdza w Chocimiu, Turkish: Hotin Kalesi, Romanian: Cetatea Hotinului) is a fortification complex located on the right bank of the Dniester River in Khotyn town, Chernivtsi Oblast’, Ukraine.
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The beginning of Khotyn Fortress goes back to the Khotyn Fort. The fort was built in the 10th century by Prince Vladimir Sviatoslavich as one of the border fortifications of southwestern Kyivan Rus', after he added the land of present-day Bukovina into his control. The Khotyn fort, which eventually was rebuilt into a fortress, was located on important transportation routes, which connected Scandinavia and Kyiv with the Lowlands, Podillia, Genoese and Greek colonies on the Black Sea, through Moldavia and Wallachia, on the famous "trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks". The fortification was built on a rocky cape, which was formed by the high right bank of the Dniester River and the valley of small its tributary. The cape was called "Khotin" from the Ukrainian verb "хотiти" (literally "to want") because the cape was desirable and safe place for the ancient settlers.

At the beginning, it was a closed earthen wall, with wooden walls and fortifications. It was built to protection the settlement of Khotyn and the river crossing. The first stone castle was small. It was located at the cape, where the northern tower is located, and extended south to the current Governor's Palace. Throughout the centuries, this fortress underwent many destructions, reconstructions and expansions.

Author: Andy Shal
Name:  Khotyn Fortress
Location: Khotyn

District: Khotynskyi Raion

Region: Chernivtsi Oblast'

Country: Ukraine

Material: Brick

Construction: 1250s-1340s

Condition:  opened to the public

At the end of the 11th century Khotyn fortress belonged to Terebovlia principality. 
During the 1140s the fortress became part of Halych Principality, and in 1199 was part of the Halych-Volhynian Kingdom. In 1250-64, Prince Danylo of Halych and his son Lev, rebuilt the fortress. They added a half-meter (20 in) stone wall and a 6-meter (20 ft) wide moat around the fortress. In the northern part of the fortress, were added new military buildings as well.
In the second half of the 13th century, it was also rebuilt by the Genoese.
In 1340-ies, Khotyn became a part of Kingdom of Hungary, and from 1375, it had been a part of Principality of Moldavia. Under the rule of Stephen the Great of Moldavia the fortress was greatly expanded. He personally supervised the reconstruction. Under his leadership, were built new high walls, decorated with geometric ornaments. The width of the walls was 5–6-meter (16–20 ft) and the height was 40 meters (130 ft). At that time, three towers were also added and the level of the courtyard was raised on 10 meters (33 ft). The courtyard was divided into 2 parts: the princes' yard and the soldiers' yard. In the fortress were also dug deep basements, which served as barracks to soldiers and places for storing provisions. This reconstruction brought the fortress to the structure it has today, except the south fence walls and South (Entrance) gate with wooden bridges, which were built by the Turks in the early 18th century. During 14th-16th centuries the Fortress served as a residence to Moldavian Princes.
In 1476, the garrison successfully held the Fortress against Turkish army of Sultan Mehmed II. However, on the verge of 15 and 16 centuries, Principality of Moldavia became a vassal of Ottoman Empire. A janissary unit was stationed inside the fortress since then, alongside the Moldavian troops. During this time the Turks expanded and fortified the Fortress.
This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons, Autor: Palladinus, License 
In 1538, under the leadership of Great Crown Hetman Jan Tarnowski, Khotyn fortress was taken by storm by Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth forces. Commonwealth forces undermined the walls of the Fortress, destroyed three towers and part of the western wall. After its  capture, the Poles rebuilt the citadel in 1540-1544 years, but then they lost it. In 1563, Dmytro Vyshnevetsky with five hundred Zaporozhian Cossacks captured the Fortress and held it for a time.
In 1600 father of Petro Mohyla, Semen, previous ruler of both Moldavia and Wallachia, and his brother Prince of Moldovia Ieremia Movilă, with Polish support, took refuge in the Fortress. They fought a dynastic battle against the forces of Moldavia and Wallachia led by Michael the Brave, who was trying to capture it, then took refuge to Poland.
In 1615 the Polish army again captured Khotyn, and in 1620 the city was captured back by the Turkish army.
In September-October 1621, the Commonwealth army under command of hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz and Petro Sahaidachny, Yatsko Borodavka (about 50,000 troops) successfully held off the army of Turkish sultan, Osman II (estimated at 100,000), in the Battle of Khotyn. On October 8, 1621 the Khotyn Peace Treaty was signed, stopping the Ottoman advance into the Commonwealth and confirming the Commonwealth-Ottoman border on the Dniester river (the border of the Principality of Moldova).
In the spring of 1650, the Ukrainian forces, led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky exempt the city for a period of time. In 1653, in the Zhvanets Battle on the left bank of Dniester, a garrison of Turks from Khotyn were fighting in the battle along with the forces of the Principality of Moldova. In November 1673, the Khotyn Fortress was lost by the Turks and Jan Sobieski started to occupy Khotyn with a Polish-Cossack army.
With the 1699 Karlowitz Peace Treaty, the fortress was transferred from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to Moldavia. In 1711, Khotyn was again taken over by the Turks. During following six years (1712-18), Turks fortified the Khotyn fortres and it became the foremost stronghold of the Ottoman defense in Eastern Europe.
In 1739, after the Russians defeated the Turks in the Battle of Stavuchany (today Stavceane), they laid siege on the Khotyn fortress. The commander of the Turkish forces, Iliaş Colceag surrendered the fortress to the Russian commander Burkhard Christoph von Münnich.
In 1769 and 1788, the Russians again successfully stormed the fortress, but every time it was given back according to peace treaties. Only after the Russian-Turkish War (1806-1812), according to the Treaty of Bucharest, all the land between the rivers Dniester and Prut rivers, including Khotyn, became the part of the Russian Empire. However, when the Turks were retreating, they almost completely ruined the fortress. Initially fortress was reconstructed and strengthened.
In 1826, the town of Khotyn was given a coat of arms.
In 1830-1832, under the project of architect Shtaubert, was built the garrison church of Alexander Nevsky. But soon the political situation was changed, Khotyn was no longer a border city, and the medieval castle was a bad hiding place for modern artillery. In 1856, the government ended the status of the Khotyn Fortress as a military entity of the Russian Empire.
In 1867-1868 years, in the heart of the modern Khotyn, was built Holy Protection Church.
This is a file from www.flickr.com, Author: abaransk, License 
The First World War and the Russian Civil War took a heavy toll on the people of Khotyn. In 1918, Khotyn was occupied by 5 states: Russia, Ukraine, the Moldovan National Republic, Austria-Hungary, and Romania. On November 10, 1918, Khotyn was taken over by the Kingdom of Romania. Khotyn stayed under the rule of Romania for 22 years and was the district center the Khotyn County.  Fron July 6, 1941 to April 3, 1944, Khotyn was kept by the German-Romanian armies.
Currently, Khotyn is one of the biggest cities of the Chernivtsi oblast, an important industrial, tourist, and cultural center of the Bukovina region. The Khotyn fortress is a large tourist attraction for the area and Ukraine. Since 2000, it is also a National Ukrainian Architectural Preserve.

The article is based on the materials of websites: www.wikipedia.org  (License)  and turizm.lib.ru

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