October 20, 2012

Soroca castle

Soroca castle (Romanian: Cetatea Soroca) is a historic fortress in the Republic of Moldova, in the modern-day city of Soroca.
This is a file from website  soroki-navsegda.ucoz.ru
Soroca city has its origin from the medieval Genoese trade post Olchionia, or Alchona. In the 15th century, on this site, the Moldavian Prince Stephen the Great (Romanian: Ştefan cel Mare) built a wooden and earthen fortress, called Saraci (Moldavian: sarac, i.e., poor, hapless, orphan, as the locals for a long time were been forced to hide from the persecution of the Crimean Tatars in the nearby caves). In the 18th century the name was changed to the Soroca.

The fortress was built to defend against the Crimean Tatars, which periodically ravaged the richest areas of the medieval Moldovan state. The eastern bound of the Moldovan state was along the Dniester River. The Dniester River was narrow but fast and deep.  From the North of the Moldovan state to the sea there was only a few convenient places for crossing the river. The Khotyn and Tighina fords were protected by the Khotyn fortress (which was built in the 13th century) and by the Tighina (Bender)  fortresses (which was built in the early fifteenth century). The Soroca ford was not protected. Chronicler Grigore Ureche (1590–1647) told of huge misfortunes, which were inflicted to the people of Northern Moldavia from the invasion of Tatar army in 1470. Although the Tatar army was defeated by the Stephen III army in Lipnica (near the modern village Ocnita), the threat of a new invasion hung over the medieval Moldova. Stephen was faced with the task of strengthening the southern and eastern borders of the principality. In this connection, near the Soroca ford over the Dniester River was built stepped-up pace a small wooden and earthen fortress of the square form.
Name: Soroca castle
Location: Soroca town

Region:  Soroca District


Material: Chalk stone

Construction: 1543- 1546

Condition:  opened to the public 


In the 40th years of 16th century the son of Stephen III Petru Rareş trying to revive the former power of the Moldovan state. He performs repair and restoration work in a number of Moldovan fortresses. Between 1543 and 1546 under the rule of Petru Rareş was erected a stone Soroca castle with wooden internal structures, which was unusual according to plan, unusual according to construction material, unusual according to meet the challenges posed by its construction. The fortress had a form of a perfect circle with five bastions situated at equal distances.
In the 30th years of 16th century, in the new, more tough conditions, was renewed by Stephen III the peace treaty with Ottoman Empire. According to this treaty Ottomans got the right to appoint the Moldavian rulers. In the 60th years of 16 century by order of the Prince Alexandru Lăpuşneanu  Soroca castle was burnt along with other Moldovan fortresses, except of Khotyn fortress. This was the condition, under which the prince received from the Ottoman Porte (the central government of the Ottoman Empire) right to second reign. This event was reported in the chronicles of Gregory Ureche in 1563. Traces of fire were followed during archaeological excavations of the courtyard of the fortress. During excavations were found the remains of powerful oak walls, the support structure of the internal structure. Plaster on the walls of the fortress is severe burned. Later, premises of courtyard and towers have been restored to its original form.
This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons, Author: Vadim Sterbate,, License
In 1650, in the fortress was Bohdan Khmelnytsky with his eldest son Timus Khmelnytsky. They heard that in Jassy (Jassy was the capital of the Moldavian principality at that time), Prince Vasile Lupu has a younger daughter, the beautiful Ruxanda. Different princes and dukes wooed  to her, but her destiny was to become the wife Cossack Timus Khmelnitsky. As far as Ruxanda was beautiful, so was not pretty Timus. He saw a beautiful woman Ruxanda and immediately fell in love with her. Originally Vasile Lupu denies the Cossacks, he says: "It is better to see his daughter dead in a coffin, than as the wife of the Cossack". But Bogdan Khmelnitsky threatens war: "If you do not want to see in front of you one Cossack, then you can see my 10,000 boyfriends which are waiting in the street for my signal." Vasile Lupu had no choice, and in order to keep the peace in the country, they signed a peace treaty and affixed marriage. In 1652, Timus and Ruxanda were married in the church of St. Nicholas. After the signing of the peace treaty between Moldova and Ukraine, Moldova a struggle flared up for the throne between Vasile Lupu and boyar Gheorghe Stefan. Wars occurred more than once and to help Vasile Lupu always hurried Timus. In 1653, during one of such wars, in the battle under the walls of the Suceava fortress, Timus Khmelnitsky was killed.
This is a file from www.starbase1.co.uk, Author: Nick Stevens,
In the 16th and 17th centuries, a small garrison (no more than 80-100 soldiers) reflected the attacks of Cossacks and Poles, as well as guarded the ford over the Dniester River from the Wild Field, which was owned the Crimean Tatars. Only as a result of the voluntary surrender in 1692, the castle came under the power of the Polish crown.  Also in 1692 the late fall, the 40-thousand Ottoman army and 15-thousand Moldovan army, led by the ruler Constantin Cantemir (father of Dimitrie Cantemir), tried to recapture the fortress of the Poles, and during six weeks were besieging it. But despite the small garrison (2000 men), they could not take it. Traces of the siege were found during archaeological excavations of two round towers in their basement part. Along with the remains of the burnt wooden roofs were found stone cannon balls, lead bullets for muskets and flintlock rifles, Polish coins of the time.
In 1699, under the terms of the Treaty of Karlowitz, Soroka castle was returned to Moldovan state.
Soroca fortress is also known by the fact that in 1711, during the Prut campaign of Peter I, Soroca fortress protected the citizens and the garrison against the Ottomans, until the arrival of the Russian troops. And near Soroca, were consolidated Moldovan forces of Dimitrie Cantemir and Russian troops under the command of Peter I.
After 1711, when appeared a new type of weapon, i.e., siege artillery, the medieval fortress lost its importance. In the late 18th century, temporarily, for a very short period, it had been a city jail.
Each of the peasants from nearby villages had a duty to feed the soldiers and prisoners of the fortress. They worked on the queue when the time comes, they say «Mi-a venit soroco», hence appeared name of the city.
This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons, Author:Visem,, License
More than two centuries, the castle was without supervision. Here, were not any battles, during the Second World War battles were fought in Cosauti. Great historical value of Soroca castle is that it was preserved to the present day the same as it was created by masters of the Middle Ages. Also been preserved small military church, located above the main entrance. The basis of the design of the fortress was made the supreme law of harmony, i.e., the golden ratio. Soroca castle has a rounded shape, with a diameter of 37.5 meters. There are 5 towers of the castle. Four of them are round and one tower is of the square form. The towers have three levels, and have special openings for guns. The fortress is 20-25 meters height, and thickness of the walls 3.5 meters.
Around 1980, the fortress was opened as a museum. The museum is open from March, as soon as the street starts to warm up until December or the first snow and frost, when workers are already moving into the Museum of History.

In the preparation of this article, were used some materials of websites: www.wikipedia.org, www.starbase1.co.uk, mdmoldova.narod.ru, turistleto.ru, soroki-navsegda.ucoz.ru  and materials of the books: 

1. Chebotarenko G.F. Soroca fortress is ancient monument, Chișinău, 1984.

2. Chebotarenko G.F. Fortress on Dniester, Chișinău, 1989.

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