Kodak Fortress - A Memorial to the Past

Ukraine is home to a number of sturdy fortresses which make fascinating attractions. These fortresses were usually built for defense and protection. Most of the fortresses were built in a strategically important location – usually overlooking the best crossing point of a river or from a high point on a hill which provided an unsurpassed view of the surrounding area. In this way, they helped the people living in Ukraine to defend their borders from any nation that might wish to invade their territory. The fortresses were also designed to protect those living within their walls. Often people from nearby farming settlements would temporarily live within the walls of a fortress during times of war. Thus, fortresses in Ukraine played a vital role in the history of the country.

The Kodak Fortress in Ukraine was one such fortress. Originally built in 1635 by the Poles, the fort was designed to watch over the Dniepro River. It was situated near the town of Stari Kodaky which was near the modern day city of Dnipropetrovsk, and was likely somewhat co-dependent on the inhabitants of that town. The Kodak Fortress was built at a time when the Cossacks of the original Zaporizhian Sich fortress were slowly becoming more plentiful and powerful. This lurking threat on the edge of the polish empire was hard to monitor. The fort enabled the country to keep a watchful eye on the Cossacks and also helped to stop Ukrainian peasants from crossing over and joining forces with the Cossacks, thus bolstering their numbers. Unfortunately, these efforts were somewhat worthless since the fortress was captured by the Cossack forces of Ivan Sulima shortly after construction was completed. All 200 men in the fortress were killed and the fortress was demolished.

Clearly, the threat at Polish borders was greater than initially realized. Therefore in 1639, the Polish not only rebuilt the fort, but doubled it in size and strength. The new building held out well against hostilities on the border, surviving a seven-month siege under the command of Cossack leader Krzysztof Lada-Grodzicki. Unfortunately, those in the fortress were not quite as indomitable, and they surrendered on 1 October 1948. This resulted in the fortress again falling into the hands of those against which it was meant to serve as a defense. The Cossacks continued to man the fort until 1711 when Peter the Great raised it in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of the Pruth. Today you will find only ruins and drawings of this once magnificent fortress.


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