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Kamyanets-Podilsky is about 25 km north of the point where Moldova and Romania meet at the Ukrainian border. This old town has stood since at least the 11th century on a sheer-walled rock island carved out of the steppe by a sharp loop in the Smotrych River. The Khotyn fortress is located in a close proximity to the town.
The Khotyn fortress, the construction of which was started in 1325, is one of the "Seven Wonders of Ukraine". The fortress walls are up to 60 m high and 6 m thick. The place witnessed several major battles and is tightly connected to the histories of Poland, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.
The fortress walls feature red ornament and a mystery damp spot. The 65 meter deep well cut through the solid rocky ground is 'a real triumph of man over nature.'
The fortress overlooking the Dnister River has been used by numerous Eastern European film directors as a location.
The old city of Kamyanets-Podilsky was built on top of the Smotrych River canyon, the walls of which are 30-50 m high (not seen in the pictures). The fortress was constructed in the shape of a polygon, with nine towers of all shapes and sizes.
The Kamyanets-Podilsky fortress by night.
The Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul built in 1590 by the Catholic Poles. It was made a mosque when Turks conquered the city in the late 17th century. The Turks also built an adjacent 42 m high minaret.
When the town was handed back to Poles by treaty 27 years later, the Turks specifically stipulated that the minaret could not been demolished. So the Poles topped it with a golden statue of Virgin Mary.
The Latin inscription on the gate in the fence round the back yard of the Cathedral translates as "Respect the Customs of Ancestors." The domes of the Russian Orthodox Church (Georgian Cathedral) are seen in the distance.
The 16-th century Vitryani Vorota (Windy Gate), where Peter the Great's hat blew off in 1711. Connected to it is the massive Kushnirska Bashta (Furriers Tower).
The Furriers Tower (1565), front view.
The most interesting and picturesque segment (250 km long) of the Dnister River is the Canyon. The steep rocky banks are up to 200 m high and the river flows in a canyon valley which is 80 - 200 m deep.
The Podilsky Tovtry is, perhaps, the only mountain ridge in the world, which emerged not because of tectonic shifts, but as a result of activities of living organisms. Essentially, it is the remnants of sea reefs dating back 25 million years.