Yenikale Fortress – Protector of the Kerch Strait Coast
There are many historic fortresses in the Ukraine which are fascinating to explore. One of these military constructions can be found in the city of Kerch, located in the Northeast part of the country in the region of Crimea. The fortress was named Yenikale which, when translated from Turkish, means 'New Fortress'. It was built and completed by the Turks in the late seventeenth century or early eighteenth century under the supervision of an Italian architect. Interestingly enough, there was a lot of input from French engineers which contributed to the success of this military structure.
Fortifications like these were necessary components to the defense of any country. For thousands of years forts and fortresses have been built in strategic places in an attempt to protect the country from any type of invasion. The importance of these buildings can be observed as the years go by. These structures become more technical and the design more complex in an attempt to be one step ahead of the enemy.
Yenikale was no different. Yenikale Fortress was built on the Kerch Strait coast, which is where the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea first meet. The Kerch Strait forms a harbor that is eighteen meters deep and fifteen kilometers wide: an important strategic position. The fortress was well equipped with large, powerful cannons and an arsenal full of weaponry. Apart from the main fortress there are other buildings that made up Yenikale. The fortress had a steady supply of water from the water reservoir; housing for the men stationed there, a bathhouse and a mosque – an Islamic place of worship.
The Yenikale fortress could take up to 1100 Turkish and Tatar or Turkic soldiers comfortably. Between Yenikale’s perfect position and armory, this fortress almost seemed impenetrable. However, the fortress had one weak point: there was no naturally accessible water in the area. Any water that was used at the fortress first had to be transported, using underground piping, from a source that was literally kilometers away. Things could fare very badly for the soldiers if something happened to the pipelines during times of war.
In 1774 Yenikale was abandoned. It was only used again in the 19th century as a military hospital, but this did not last long. Today Yenikale is a historical site that can be visited and appreciated for the part it played in the protection of Kerch and of Ukraine.