Abundant in palaces, fortifications, royal manors and residences of multicultural heritage, Ukraine has a lot to offer to travelers wishing to go on a medieval tour on its territory. Due to the country’s various foreign invasions many of its old castles are patrimonies of Russian, Polish and Hungarian noblemen. Here are some of the best medieval castles Ukraine has to offer.
Erected over the river peninsula in the Kamianets-Podilskyi region this 14th century castle’s natural defense system crafted by the river’s canyon is responsible for the picturesque views and the flocks of tourists each year. A castle bridge constructed over the river centuries ago is still the only route connecting to the old town neighborhood and it’s often depicted in history as a summit of advanced medieval engineering. The castle itself consists of a fortified complex protected by a total of 12 towers – an impressive number of towers even for post-medieval times. Due to the fact that the façades were renovated by numerous rulers from different cultures throughout the ages the complex is a shining example of architectural diversity.
Vorontsov (Alupka) Palace
Majestic from each side and angle, this castle complex is one of Ukraine’s finest. Located in the Alupka region of the Crimean Mountains it was built in the early 1800s and combines a mixture of various architectural styles, among which are the English Renaissance, the Indo-Islamic Mughal and the Scottish Baronial. The castle grounds house a 99-acre park, which is shaped in the form of an amphitheater, whereas the interior features a museum and a total of 150 lavishly decorated rooms.
The Chernivtsi Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans, a.k.a. the Metropolitan Palace or the Chernivtsi Palace for short, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s also one of the Seven Architectural Wonders of Ukraine. Contrary to the fates of many other astonishing castles, the government decided to make it open to the public all year round by adjudging it to serve as the main campus of the Ukrainian University of Chernivtsi. Before it became part of the public university the palace served a cultural, political and theological role ever since the 1880s.
Lubart’s Castle (Lutsk)
Also known as the Upper Castle this complex was built in the early 1340s as a way to fortify the Lutsk region and to protect the former Kingdom of Ruthenia. Out of all of the buildings the courtyard once housed, the Neoclassical episcopal palace of bishops is the only preserved one. Albeit not as posh or as richly decorated in its interior and exterior, the complex is a grand medieval landmark in Ukraine and has been attracting countless tourists for decades.
One of the wondrous medieval attractions of western Ukraine is the Pidhirtsi castle, which was constructed back in the early 1600s over the remains of old fortifications. Filled with aristocratic splendors like a vineyard, zoo and mill, and guarded by a natural moat in the Styr river valley, this castle was once a peak of royal lavishness. Initially serving the Polish royals, it was designed in Renaissance style with Italian motifs. The Lviv Gallery of Arts purchased the land in the late 1990s and transformed it into a museum. Sadly, due to a lack of sufficient funds, on-going restoration plans haven’t been properly carried out yet and the renovations are being delayed.
Last, but not least, comes the Kuris castle – the ruins of an old exquisite façade, which are nestled in the Odessa region in Ukraine. Built at some point in the early 1800s it served as the mansion of Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Kuris. Out of the numerous ruined fortifications, manors and palaces in Ukraine this one is actually quite well-preserved. With a blend of Moorish and Corinthian Romantism, these castle ruins are a refreshing sight to see against the backdrop of the otherwise plain village of Petrivka.