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Moldova: Soroca Fortress

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Soroca Fortress | Moldova | Europe

[Visited: October 2010]

The previous day, I had waited quite some time at the bus station of Orhei, and when the bus to Floresti finally came, it somehow did not open its doors, and before I knew it, drove away right in front of my eyes. It was almost sunset, and I decided to go back to Chisinau for a nice birthday dinner before heading north again. The next morning, I was lucky and my bus left right after I boarded it. The drive to Soroca was easier than I had anticipated, and I got off after two and a half hours. Right next to the bus station, I walked into the Sunday market and spent some time there before walking to the other side of the town along tree-lined lanes. I imagined they would look nice during spring and summer - now, the trees were barren. Finding the fortress was easy: at the end of the main street of Soroca, I saw it towering over the trees of a small park.

Picture of Soroca Fortress (Moldova): Soroca Fortress: watchtowers and thick walls

As I got closer to the walls of the fortress, I realized how high those walls were, and how well it was built. Originally built as a wooden fortress by no other than Stephan the Great, the national hero of Moldova at the very end of the 15th century, Soroca Fortress was rebuilt in its present, circular form in the mid 16th century. It is actually a perfect circle, with four circular towers at equal distances. At the top, I could see the crenels; otherwise, massive walls. This fortress looked impossible to conquer. It was time to take the main entrance and have a look inside. At the side of the river Dniestr, I found the entrance to the fortress on a small square where cars and a small bus were parked. People were lingering here, looking over the river towards the other side - Ukraine. One thing was clear to me: Soroca Fortress has been built at a strategic location.

Picture of Soroca Fortress (Moldova): Inside view of the walls of Soroca Fortress

After walking through a tall, relatively narrow door in the rectangular fifth tower at the eastern side of the fortress, I found a surprisingly small courtyard where a large group of visitors was sitting in a circle, listening to a guide who was passionately telling the story of the fortress - unfortunately, in a language I did not understand. After inspecting the vaulted rooms at this ground level, and taking a peek up the interior of the four circular towers, I climbed to the next where I found a chapel right above the entrance in the rectangular tower. Like the rest of Soroca Fortress, it was only sparsely decorated with icons - especially compared to most orthodox churches. I walked around From here, I took the stairs to the top floor of the fortress. There is a walkway all around the top, close to the crenels, and from the inside of the rectangular tower, there were great views over Soroca, the Dniestr river, and into Ukraine. It was easy to imagine that this fortress, one in a chain of defensive structures in medieval times, was a worthy stronghold. Its small size was probably also an advantage for the defenders. In fact, it successfully a siege by the Ottomans, but was later sacked by the Russians in the 18th century. Soroca fortress is a major attraction in Moldova, and almost all the visitors I saw were locals. When I was about to leave, a wedding party arrived, and the young couple went inside the fortress, among the other visitors, to have a photo-shoot in a medieval setting. A large group of visitors was sitting on a side, listening to the same guide, who was again talking passionately about the proud history of this remarkable fortress.

Picture of Soroca Fortress (Moldova): Soroca Fortress hidden behind trees on the banks of the Dniestr river
Picture of Soroca Fortress (Moldova): Entrance of Soroca Fortress: frontal view
Picture of Soroca Fortress (Moldova): Inside view of the main tower of Soroca Fortress
Picture of Soroca Fortress (Moldova): Looking up one of the towers of Soroca Fortress
Picture of Soroca Fortress (Moldova): Walking the top of Soroca Fortress
Picture of Soroca Fortress (Moldova): Entrance of Soroca Fortress seen from the riverside
Picture of Soroca Fortress (Moldova): Dniestr river seen from the top of Soroca fortress
Picture of Soroca Fortress (Moldova): Inside view of one of the watchtowers of Soroca fortress
Picture of Soroca Fortress (Moldova): Orthodox church inside the fortress of Soroca

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