Kamyanets-Podilsky is the sort of place that has writers lunging for their thesauruses in search of superlatives. Even words like 'dramatic', 'stunning' and 'breathtaking' just will not do. Like the Swiss capital of Bern, or Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic, the town is located where a sharp loop in a river has formed a natural moat. However, Kamyanets-Podilsky is much wilder and less commercial than these other places, and attracts a fraction of their visitor numbers.
The wide tree-lined Smotrych River canyon is 40m to 50m deep, leaving the 11th-century Old Town standing clearly apart on a tall, sheer-walled rock 'island'. According to an oft-told legend, when the Turkish Sultan Osman arrived to attack the town in 1621, he asked one of his generals, 'Who has built such a mighty town?' 'Allah', came the reply, to which the Sultan responded, 'Then let Allah himself conquer it', and bid a hasty retreat.
Schizophrenic K-P is really a tale of two cities – the noisy and slightly chaotic Soviet New Town, where most of the hotels are located, and the quieter Old Town where all of the sights are gathered. Until recently the latter sometimes gave the impression of having been abandoned by the townsfolk c 1950 for the Soviet utopia across the river, but of late the locals have realised there might be money to be made from people called tourists visiting old stuff and the historical quarter has begun to receive a facelift (not always with desirable results). Another worrying phenomenon are the enormous walled dachi (cottages) being built by wealthy individuals slap-bang in the centre of town.