Built of wood in the 10th to 13th centuries, then redesigned and rebuilt in stone by Italian military engineers in the 16th century, K-P's fortress is a mishmash of styles. But the overall impression is breathtaking and the view from the Turkish Bridge leading to the fortress would certainly make a short list of Ukraine's most iconic front-page vistas. The fortress is filled with museums and cafes, and in the summer concerts frequently take place in its vast courtyard.
The fortress is in the shape of a polygon, with nine towers of all shapes and sizes linked by a sturdy wall surrounding the courtyard.
The New East Tower (1544) is directly to your right as you enter the fortress and contains a well and a huge winch stretching 40m deep through the cliff to bring up water. On your right, stairs lead downwards to the debtors' hole, where locals behind in loan repayments were kept until their debt was covered. Next to the debtors' hole is the Papska (Pope's) or Karmalyuk Tower (1503–17), which was used as a prison. The wax figure inside is Ustym Karmalyuk, a loveable rogue who, legend has it, was so handsome that women tossed strands of hair down to him. He eventually accumulated enough hair to make a rope and escape one of his three incarcerations here between 1817 and 1823.
Walk toward the back of the courtyard and look for a white building on the right. This houses a fantastic museum that romps through the history of K-P and Ukraine over the last century in a jumble of nostalgia-inducing exhibits. The Euromaidan Revolution is covered by a symbolic eternal flame with names and photos of victims.
Behind the fortress to the west are the remains of the largely earthen New Fortress.