Upon arrival in Kamyanets-Podilsky, writers are known to lunge for their thesauruses in search of superlatives. ‘Dramatic’? ‘Stunning?’ ‘Breathtaking?’ None of these words quite suffice. Like the Swiss capital of Bern, or Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, the town is located where a sharp loop in the Smotrych River has formed a natural island.
Kamyanets-Podilsky, however, is more arresting than these similar cities. For instance, the canyon carved out by the wide, tree-lined Smotrych River is 40 to 50 meters deep, leaving 11th-century Kamyanets-Podilsky standing tall on a virtual rock ‘island’. From this vantage point, one can absorb the breathtaking details of an inimitable panorama: high Fortress walls, the towers and domes of ancient structures, all amid a greenery most lush. Archeological finds evidence just how ancient this region’s roots reach. Second century Roman coins have been unearthed here, pointing to commercial and cultural ties with Roman provinces and the inhabitants of the Northern Black Sea Maritime Region.
Many of Eastern Europe’s most vivid historical personalities have called upon this special place: Peter the First, Catherine the Great, Taras Shevchenko, Dostoevskiy, Mytskevich, Kings and Great Dukes of Poland and Lithuania, Turkish Sultans, and Ukrainian Hetmans. From the Old Fortress, the Russian and Polish estates, the Cathedral and Dominican Catholic churches to the unique Town Hall and the Armenian wall and Bastion, this city eats, sleeps, and breathes history . . . and it welcomes you to learn from it.