Kiev Fortress Tour

Kiev Fortress

We conduct excursions around the Kyiv fortress – one of the largest stone and earth fortifications in the world. During the tour we will visit the Hospital fortification, where you will see the remains of earthen ramparts and defensive walls with caponiers. You’ll learn how the fortress was built, how many fortifications there were, and what objects have been preserved to this day. Those who wish, can visit the Prison’s museum, opened in the “Kosyi Kaponir” (Oblique caponier), where there was once a prison for political prisoners. Duration – 2-3 hours.



Kiev Fortress map

In the Kyivan Rus’ epoch in its capital (Kyiv) were three fortified centers – the Podol, the Mountain and the Pechersk. The Podol had the weakest building – “stolpiye” – picket fence of sharpened round beams set in ground. Fortresses of Podol covered around 200 hectares or 2 square kilometres. Much more powerful constructions had “the Mountain”, where starts many favorite tours on the ancient city.

The fortification buildings consisted of three sections – Volodymyr, Yaroslav and Sviatopolk-Michael (Mychael unit) hailstones. Fortification of the Mountain consisted of tall earth rampart (around 11 metres) and covered galleries over the rampart called “zaboroly” for fortress defenders from enemy arrows and srears. These constructions also had strong stone towers with slots in them – Golden and Sophiev (Batyy) Gates.

Total area of fortification buildings of the Mountain was 80 hectares or 0.8 square kilometres. The Kyiv-Pechersk Fortress was built around the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and was the strongest of all three fortresses (rich monastery could afford that). This building had no rampart constructions, but its wands were stone and brick. All these fortresses were destroyed by Mongols in September-December 1240.

In renewed Kyiv life concentrated on the Podol. Were built New wood and ground fortification buildings as two parallel lines (so called Verkhniy and Nyzhniy Val). In Lithuanian time they were added with the castle on mountain Khorivitsa which took another name – “Zamkova Gora”. To the times of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was established Catholic Kyiv Episcopal Church. Kyiv bishop had his own fortification on the Podol area. After devastating fire on the Podol in 1811 the fortifications weren’t rebuilt.

The fortification buildings of the mountain weren’t rebuilt after Mongol time, because all economical life of the city moved on the Podol. Only after Kyiv transition to authority of the Tsardom of Russia (on the results of the Treaty of Andrusovo 1667 with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) Russian garrison located around the chronical Mountain, on its ramparts was placed artillery. The Mountain fortification buildings become a real Fortress.

Fortifications of the Pechersk weren’t also rebuilt until the end of XVII century. In 1679 Cossack regiments ruled by left-banked Hetman – Ivan Samoilovich built around the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (the monastery was under direct supervision to patriarch) square wood and ground fortress. At the same time I. Samoilovich made a decision to combine Old-Kyiv (“the Mountain”), the Podol and the Kyiv-Pechersk Fortresses by a single rampart – retrenchment.  This rampart was from the Pechersk to the Golden Gate. Along the rampart was “cut” a street, which came to us under the name “Proreznaya”. Thus, area of new fortification buildings reached record-high 1000 hectares or 10 square kilometres.

In 1706 the throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth has been ascended by the protege of Charles XII of Sweden (the enemy of Peter the Great) – Stanislaw Leszczynski. Regarding to Polish-Sweden campaign, what was expected on Kyiv Peter the Great had founded the Pechersk Citadel on 15 August, 1706. This citadel was built by technology of French engineer Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban. This technology started its spreading around the Europe in the beginning of XVIII century. The citadel was built by the power of Russian military and I. Mazepa Cossacks.

In 1812 on the eve of Napoleon Byonaparte’s invasion of Russia in Kyiv was built Zvirynets fortification by the project of military engineer Iser Kuperman. In 1830 due to the extensive Poland rebellion 1830-1831 and expecting campaign of rebels on Kyiv had started construction of two defense earth and masonry buildings: Vasilkovskyi and Hospitalnyi.

Next stage of Kyiv fortress amplification became building of the Lysohorsky fort, what covered for the city on the south side. Total area of the fort was 1,2 square kilometres, what made the fort the biggest(!) among similar buildings (forts).  Nowadays it still has his original look, staying unchanged from 1875. On the left bank of the Dnieper was built a fortification in front of the bridge to defense the chain bridge over the River (now it’s the subway bridge). The Kyiv-Pechersk Fortress had three ropeways, so called “letayushiye liul’ki” used for transport building materials, armies and ammunition.

Before the World War II in Kyiv started construction of Kyiv fortified district. That was the last military technical building in Kyiv.