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Introducing Khotyn

You might first pass Khotyn on the way from Chernivtsi, but it's closer to Kamyanets-Podilsky and best visited as a day trip from there.

While Kamyanets-Podilsky is awesome taken as a whole, its castle building is upstaged by Khotyn Fortress. Eastern European filmmakers love to use this massive fort overlooking the Dnister River as a location; for instance it served as Warsaw Castle in the highly controversial Russian-language 2009 blockbuster movie Taras Bulba. With walls up to 40m high and 6m thick, today's stone fortress was built in the 15th century, replacing an earlier wooden structure. Its location safeguarded river trade routes, making it a sought-after prize. The defining moment in its history came in 1621, with a threatened Turkish invasion. The incumbent Poles enlisted the help of 40,000 Cossacks and managed to rout a 250,000-strong Turkish army. This improbable victory made a hero of Cossack leader Petro Sahaydachny, whose huge statue greets you near the fortress' entrance. However, any notion of the fortress' impregnability was dispelled in 1711 when the Turks finally nabbed it. The Russians took over in the 19th century.

Inside the fortress walls there ain't a whole lot to see, but it's really the large riverfront grounds that make the place. Some of the outer fortification walls remain and you can clamber precariously over these. In one far corner, locals even pose for pictures where it appears they're jumping over the fortress. But whatever you do, don't forget to bring a picnic.