Kamyanets-Podilsky Old Fortress
The town of Kamyanets-Podilsky is situated in the land of Podillya, Western Ukraine. It is one of the oldest towns in Ukraine, and after Kyiv and Lviv it is probably one of the most important historical centres of Ukraine. There are over 200 architectural landmarks in the town and twenty years ago it was given the status of "a historical and architectural preserve." Kamyanets is a harmonic unity of an urban area and natural rocky setting.
The population of Kamyanets-Podilsky is about 107 thousand people. The town has several factories (electromechanical, ferroconcrete, cable, instruments-building, agricultural machinery, etc.). Some of them used to work for the military-industrial complex and now are being converted to peaceful uses. Construction, if not exactly booming, is developing at a steady rate.
The town has a developed system of bus transportation. A recently renovated railroad terminal connects the town with the rest of Ukraine. There are 9 banks operating in the town at the moment.
Schools of different levels are in a sufficient number to maintain a high level of education. Podilsk State Agrarian-Technical Academy and Teachers' Training University provide higher education. Students constitute a considerable part of the local population. In fact, in relative figures (the ratio of students and the rest of the population) Kamyanets stands the third in Europe. Cultural life is quite vigorous for a town of such a size, with several festivals organized regularly beginning from the mid-eighties. Three stadium and other sports facilities can be regarded as evidence of sports activity. Several at athletes took part in world championships.
The town has a great potential for developing tourism. In addition to impress townscape, rocky hills and parks, including a botanical garden, several kinds of mineral water with medicinal properties are things attractive to tourists.
Several Christian confessions and other religions are represented in Kamyanets-Podilsky: Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate; Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate; Ukrainian Autocephalous Church; Greco-Catholic Church; Roman-Catholic Church, plus Protestant churches. Such a wide confessional variety reflects the long and eventful history of Kamyanets-Podilsky
It is not known for sure when the town of Kamyanets was founded. Some historians date it to the 14th century, others are of the opinion that it dates from much earlier times of the 11th-12th century. There is some archaeological evidence to support the latter claim. Still others relegate the foundation all the way back to the Roman times of the 2nd-3rd century AD. Even if we accept the later date it is clear that the town has had a long history spanning many centuries.
The geographical location of the town is very advantageous and there were many claims to the possession of the town. No wonder the mighty fortress was built there in the 14th century. There were but a few citadels of such size and importance in south-eastern Europe of that time.
Up to the 20th century Kamyanets was confined to an area locally referred to as Stare Misto (Old Town) and the new housing developments date to this century.
Architectural variety of the Old Town reflects the ethnic variety that used to be a characteristic feature of Kamyanets.
Three biggest ethnic groups in Kamyanets of the 15th century were the indigenous locals, Poles (for a length of time Kamyanets and adjacent lands were under the Polish domination) and Armenians. Each ethnic community occupied a part of town it regarded as its own.
The central square of Kamyanets is still called Virmensky Rynok (Armenian Market-place) as it was the central area of the Armenian community. It has not been established with certainty when the first Armenians settled down in Kamyanets but there is no doubt that already in the 14th century there was quite a large Armenian community living in Kamyanets.
In the mid- 14th century the Mongols who had invaded Ukraine in the 13th century, were expelled and the Kamyanets lands were included in the Great Principality of Lithuania. Later, Kamyanets became the central town of Kamyanets Principality. Thanks to its geographical position, there were many trade routes that passed through the town and thus trade and other relations were established with other lands.
In the 15th century the town and Podillya lands came under the Polish domination and a number of surviving buildings in Kamyanets, among them churches, date from those times. Dominican monks established their monastery and the pink bell tower is one of the landmarks of Kamyanets.
At the end of the 18th century, after the partition of Poland, Podillya became part of the Russian Empire. The Roman Catholic influence began to wane and the Christian Orthodoxy was on the rise.
It was in the 20th century that the town outgrew its old boundaries and acquired new quarters. Kamyanets-Podilsky could be easily turned into a flourishing tourist centre and there are all the reasons to believe it will be.
Investments are welcome!