Mangup Kale – Historic Stronghold

The historic site of Mangup is a fortress complex located on a rocky plateau approximately nine miles east of the city of Sevastopol in Ukraine’s Crimea region. With a history going back to the 3rd century CE, the fortress is now in ruins. Nevertheless, with its strategic position overlooking the surrounding area, and some of its mighty walls still standing, visitors to Mangup Kale (kale meaning fortress or stronghold in Turkish) can imagine a time in the past when its inhabitants felt a measure of security during times of great conflict.

Known as Dorop in Medieval times, and later given the name of Mangup by the Turkish Kipchaks, the settlement is believed to have been established in the 3rd century, possibly by nomadic Alans and Goths. It was fortified in the mid 6th century by Justinian the Great – the Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. Justinian was known to be zealous in his efforts to promote the power of the Roman Empire and for a time Mangup featured in his plans. Despite its seemingly impenetrable walls, Mangup Kale changed hands a number of times thereafter. It served as the center of the autonomous principality of the Crimean Goths, and was later conquered by the Turkish Khazars in the 8th century. The fortress and surrounding area was the center of a revolt by the Goths, led by Bishop John of Gothia, against the Khazars, which proved unsuccessful.

By the 14th century, the Principality of Theodoro had control of Mangup, then known as Doros. The principality consisted of Crimean Goths, Greeks, Bulgars, Alans and Kypchaks, and was closely aligned with the Empire of Trebizond. In early 1475 the fortress of Mangup was defeated by Ottoman commander Gedik Ahmet Pasha, and became part of the Ottoman Empire. By the late 1700s the site was abandoned and the once mighty fortress began to crumble.

Visitors will find that it is quite a walk to reach Mangup Kale, but the panoramic view stretching as far as the Black Sea coast will make it worthwhile. Add to this the historic value of the site and the nearby caves common to the area, and a visit to Mangup Kale may be a highlight of your visit to Ukraine.