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Khotin

KHOTYN FORTRESS

The nearby Khotyn Fortress, a massive fort overlooking the Dnister River, is a site of epic proportions. This explains why Eastern European filmmakers love to use it as a film location. Recently refurbished, it served as Warsaw Castle in the recent Russian-language blockbuster Taras Bulba.

Practically isolated from major roads and contemporary life, the Khotyn Castle is best known for its towering 50-meter high and 6 meter thick walls that look out upon the wide, sweeping Dnister as it flows south to the Black Sea. Originally built of wood in the 12th century, by the 15th century, it had been completely remade of stone. Its location safeguarded river trade routes, making it a coveted prize during wars of yore. Its 50 meter walls are still the tallest in all of Europe. These walls have red Turkish markings and a mysterious damp spot, but it's the large riverfront grounds that really distinguish the fort. Some of the outer fortification walls remain, and the energetic can clamber precariously over them.

Stone and earth fortifications actually expand for almost a mile from the main fort. This 12th-16th century structure rests atop a man-made platform 33 feet deep, a remarkable example of ancient engineering genius. The rectangular area of the site is 4,000 by 800 feet, all enclosed in an earthwork rampart (26 feet deep) and all enforced with bulwarks. Even today, the castles grandeur strikes awe in both contractor and layman.