Photo credits: Moahim

Ukraine's best castles to enjoy next summer

Ukraine's west has proper medieval fortresses, castles and palaces
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Ukraine's western regions have something to offer to a castle enthusiast. Due to twists and turns of history the territory which belonged to Austria-Hungary is now part of this east European nation.

Some of the castles are in a bad shape but each year the Ukrainian authorities launch restoration projects.

5. Lutsk Castle

Where: Lutsk, Volyn Oblast
Also known as Lubart's castle it is one of the largest, oldest and best preserved castles in Ukraine. It dates back to the 14th century when the lands were seized by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Lutsk Castle. Photo credits: Сергій Венцеславський
A century later the castle became a venue for the high-profile gathering of European monarchs which focused on the coronation of Vytautas as King of Lithuania. By the 18th century the castle lost its significance and after the Partitions of Poland it found itself in the Russian Empire. The castle underwent careful restoration and its main entrance tower can be seen on a 200 hryvnia banknote.
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4. Pidhirtsi Castle

Where: near Lviv
The present-day Renaissance mansion standing on the clear-cut fortification foundation dates back to the 18thcentury and is surrounded by a beautiful park. Travelers who were lucky to visit it were taken aback by its beauty.
Pidhirtsi Castle. Photo credits: Haidamac
Unfortunately during the Soviet times the castle was used as a tuberculosis sanatorium and was in a very poor state when Ukraine became independent. It was a setting for a number of Soviet films when directors needed to recreate Europe. No wonder it featured in the Soviet adaptation of The Three Musketeers.

3. Palanok Castle

Where: Mukacheve, Zakarpattia
It is a historic castle in the western Ukrainian region of Zakarpattia. The castle stands on a former 68 metre high volcanic hill and consists of the high, the middle, and the low castles. The name derives from oak poles which used to encircle the hill in the early days. The castle played a great role in the Hungarian struggle for independence from the Austrian rule. It was a prison where Russian anarchist Bakunin was jailed.
Palanok Castle. Photo credits: Vasil Stecko
And a legend says that its first owner lacked money to build a proper well. This is when the devil turned up offering his help. The reward? A sack with gold. The devil did not specify how much gold so the owner put two golden coins in the sack and gave it to the devil. The devil was mad! He jumped into the well under construction and since those times one could hear some whispers and unpleasant sounds in the well.
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2. Khotyn Fortress

Where: Chernivtsi Oblast
The fortress was rebuilt from an older fort in the 13-14th century by Prince Daniel of Galicia. It stands on a hill on the right bank of the Dniestr river. 100 years later it was seized by Moldovans who were Hungarian vassals. This is when it was drastically expanded and new 40m tall and 6m wide walls were built. Also, the fortress was divided in two parts: for princes and for the garrison.
Khotyn Fortress. Picture credits: Rbrechko
Next come Turks (they reinforced the fortress) who conquered Moldavia and stationed troops in the fortress but not for long as in the 16th century Polish and Lithuanian troops successfully seized it after blowing up the walls. Throughout the next century the fortress changed hands between Turks and Poles several times. And finally Russians knocked out Ottomans to bring it under its control after Russian-Turkish wars in the 19th century. When the Empire collapsed several states wished to get it but Romanians were the lucky ones - they held it till the end of WWII when they handed it over to the USSR.

1. Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle

Where: Khmelnitsky Oblast
And here comes the top of the tops! The Kamianets-Podilskyi fortress. Built in the 14th century by Lithuanian princes it was later seized by Poles who called it the last Christian outpost in the face of the advancing Ottomans. However, it did not stop Turks from taking it.
Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle. Photo credits: Bogdan Reptilo
The Ottomans made their contribution to the fortress like bastions and a bridge that leads to the old city center. It is now called the Turkish bridge. Finally, the turbulent 20th century landed the fortress in Ukraine's hands. It now attracts thousands of visitors every year!
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