Palanok Castle (Ukraine)
Zakarpattia Oblast See list of castles in Ucraina
Standing on the city's hill, the medieval castle of Palanok with its pointed towers is the main attraction of the ancient Mukachevo. Every year over one hundred thousand travelers from all over the world come here to see this unique example of fortified architecture, recognized as one of the most interesting and best preserved defensive complexes in Ukraine.
It is believed that the castle of Mukachevo was built in Kyivan Rus. At the time it was a wooden fortification (palanca 'Italian' palisade '), and hence its name derives. The castle of Palanok became a stone at the end of the fourteenth century, under the ownership of Prince Podillia Fedir Koriatovych, who significantly rebuilt and added the defensive complex. New walls were built, a deep ditch was dug, other towers were erected and houses were built. The later ones were connected with long and narrow passages, one of which was called the trap, or death corridor. If an enemy entered the city and entered this passage, the entrance and exit were blocked by metal gates, and the boiled water and the hot field were poured over the enemy trapped through the holes in the ceiling.
Under the ownership of Koriatovych, the territory of the castle of Mukachevo acquired another remarkable object: a well 85 meters deep, to which an interesting legend is connected. It was dug for a long time, but the water did not appear. Then, the devil came to the owner of the castle and offered water in the well in exchange for a bag of gold. The prince was in financial trouble and decided to use cunning: he gave the devil the smallest bag with two coins. Irritated devil grabbed money and jumped into the well. It is said that his offended howl can still be heard from there.
From the 16th century, Austria and Transylvania constantly fought for the castle of Palanok and, because of this, it often changed its owners. In the year 1633 he passed to the transylvan prince Dyerd Rakocziy, who transformed the fortress of Mukachevo into the center of his principality. Under his rule, the defensive structures have been actively renewed and rebuilt. Old or, the Upper Castle was rebuilt, and two other castles - Middle and Lower - were built next to it.
After the death of the prince, his widow Sophia Batori assumed power. Under his rule two defensive terraces and an external defensive ring were built. By the way, the princess was one of the most influential rulers of Palanok and became famous for her extreme cruelty. It is said that he drank human blood and immersed himself there to find eternal youth.
The history of the castle of Mukachevo is linked to the name of another woman: Ilona Zrini, the daughter of Sophia Batori. Contrary to his mother-in-law, he became famous for his extraordinary courage, which he demonstrated during the repulsion of the Austrian troops' attack on the castle. The siege lasted two and a half years and Ilona Zrini led the fortress garrison all the time. But after all, the castle was taken by the enemy: the Austrians deceived Ilona Zrini in the signature of the surrender instrument.
Towards the end of the eighteenth century the castle of Palanok lost its strategic significance. The political prison of the Austrian monarchy was soon opened. It existed a little over a hundred years and then the castle was abandoned for a long time.
Since 1989, the castle's premises are occupied by the Mukachevo History Museum, where over ten interesting exhibitions are exhibited. Here is also the gallery of images with the best paintings of Western-Ukrainian painters and ancient icons. Some rooms in Palanok are assigned to the "Wooden Churches of Zakarpattia" exhibition and to the art salon, where you can buy paintings and souvenirs by local artists. There are also cozy cafés on the territory of the fortress, where it is pleasant to drink a cup of fragrant coffee and admire the scenery of the castle.