Mukachevsky “Palanok” Castle – Underground Passages and Mystery Awaits
There are only six extremely well preserved castles in Europe at present, and one of them is the Mukachevsky “Palanok” Castle in Ukraine. It is located in the Zakarpattia Oblast on a hill which stands at a height of 68 meters. The hill is known as the Zamkova or Castle Mount, and it is from here that the castle presents a formidable image to the surrounding landscape. Mukachevsky Castle is the pride of this province. It has seen many occupants come and go, creating many legends and fascinating tales along the way.
It is not exactly clear when the construction of this magnificent Castle began, as most experts believe that the cornerstone was laid in the 14th century. However, documents and ancient writings that have been discovered make reference to the Palanok Castle from as far back as the 11th century. With each new resident the castle was renovated to suit the needs of the new owner. As it stands today, the Mukachevsky “Palanok” Castle covers an impressive area of some 14,000 square meters. It has 130 spacious rooms, each with their own unique use, and as with many ancient and mysterious castles there are underground passages that connect all the rooms in the castle. For protection the castle has a moat, and a staggering 164 cannons ward off anyone who nears its grounds. The three-story Palanok Castle is a sight to behold.
Shortly after the construction of the Mukachevsky Castle was completed, French engineers renovated the majestic castle to serve as a fortress. The world famous French prison, the Bastille, was stormed and the castle took up the role as a political prison for Europeans. Prince Fedir Koriatovych and his family, plus later generations, lived in the Palanok Castle for approximately 200 years. Many famous people would also take ownership of the castle, such as the Regent of Hungary Janos Hunyadi and Laiosh Maria, the Hungarian kings’ wife. During the years 1796 to 1897, the castle had the role of a prison yet again. It was given the honor to safeguard the Crown of St Steven during the years 1805 to 1806, thus keeping this treasure out of Napoleon’s hands.
The Mukachevsky “Palanok” Castle has been a home, a fortress, a prison, a head quarters during the war, a barracks and an agricultural college. But of all these roles, its most important one is the significant purpose it serves today as a museum. It is truly a time capsule which tells visitors the stories that have long been forgotten.