Khotyn Fortress on the Dniester River

Dating back to 1325 and strategically located on the Dniester River, Khotyn Fortress is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine. This landmark outside the city of Khotyn, in the Chernivtsi Oblast of western Ukraine, is a popular tourist attraction, and in addition to being one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine, the Khotyn Fortress is a National Ukrainian Architectural Preserve.

While the current building was constructed in 1325, it was built on ground which was previously the location of the Khotyn Fort built by Prince Vladimir Sviatoslavich in the 10th century. At that time it served as part of the fortifications protecting the border of southwestern Kievan Rus. Later, when Khotyn Fort was rebuilt and extended it continued to fill an important role with trade and travel routes linking Scandinavia and Kiev with Podillia and the Genoese and Greek settlements on the Black Sea, passing by Khotyn Fortress.

When the Khotyn Fort was originally established with the aim of protecting the Khotyn settlement on the opposite bank of the Dniester River, it was nothing more than wooden walls surrounding a mound of dirt on the rocky bank overlooking the river. The later stone construction was still quite small, and stood where the current building’s northern tower now stands. As time progressed, Khotyn Fortress changed hands and was the site of many historic moments as conquerors came and went. During this time the buildings were added to, altered, damaged and reconstructed upon the whim of the various occupants over the years.

World War I, followed by, and overlapping with, the Russian Civil War, caused great hardship for the citizens of Khotyn. At one stage, in 1918, the town was occupied by forces from no less than five states – Russia, Ukraine, Moldovan National Republic, Romania and Austria-Hungary, with the Kingdom of Romania taking control on November 10 that year. Despite an uprising against Romanian authorities in January 1919, Khotyn remained under that country’s rule for twenty-two years.

Today Khotyn is a thriving city and an important cultural and tourist destination in the region. The Khotyn Fortress remains as a prominent landmark that has a long history and many legends attached to it. It is a popular setting for the film industry, with movies filmed at the Khotyn Fortress including the Russian movie Taras Bulba, Black Arrow The Three Musketeers Hadyuka, and Arrows of Robin Hood.