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Mukachevo, Palanok Castle

20.07.2022 959

The main attraction of Mukachevo is Palanok Castle (14th-17th centuries), which stands on a mountain of volcanic origin.

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The main attraction of Mukachevo is the Palanok Castle (14th-17th centuries), which stands on a mountain of volcanic origin 68 m high and occupies an area of 13,930 square meters. m. and is a vivid example of medieval defensive architecture. The total length of the perimeter of the castle is 248 m, the width is more than 100 m.

The exact date of the castle’s founding is unknown, but the Mukachevo fortification, which was part of the defense line of the borders of the Old russian state beyond the Carpathians, is mentioned in documents as early as the 11th century.

The Hungarian chronicle shows that during the reign of King Laszlo I the Holy (1077-1095) the fortress was fortified with stone walls, and in 1086 it withstood a five-day siege and an assault by the Polovtsy led by Khan Kutesk. But Batia’s hordes, which passed through Transcarpathia in 1241, did not even dare to storm the stronghold. After their departure, the fortress was significantly strengthened in case of a new Mongol-Tatar invasion.

Мукачево. Замок Паланок

In the 13th and 14th centuries the castle was the property of the Hungarian kings of the Arpadovych and Anjou dynasties and guarded military-strategic routes. The main structure of the then castle was a square tower – donjon. In the deed from 1321 the first commandant of the fortress was named – Tomasz, deputy governor of the Berezhsky and Ugochansky committees. In 1352, in the Pidhoryan region, the commandant of the Dezhe castle defeated the detachment of the Tatar Khan Atlamosh, and executed the Khan himself in the castle.

At the end of the 14th century King Sigismund of Hungary gives Mukachevo to his relative – Prince Fedor Koryatovych of Podil.
There is a belief: if you touch the finger of Prince Koryatovych, then there will be money and happiness
It was during the reign of Prince Koryatovych at the end of the 14th – at the beginning of the 15th century. the construction of stone structures of the fortress began.

The castle began to perform not only a defensive function, but also a residential one, since a two-story stone building was added to the tower-donjon – housing for the princely family and servants. A well with a diameter of 2.5 m and a depth of 85 m was hollowed out of the rock under the tower, and a spiral staircase symmetrically adjoins the mine at a depth of 13 m.

In 1401, all residential and farm buildings were surrounded by a dry moat, over which a bridge spanned and a fortress stone wall with four round towers, three of which have survived to this day. The gate to the castle was located in the center of the fortress wall, between two towers.

Fyodor Koryatovych also replenished the military arsenal of the fortress – 164 cannons were installed on the walls and towers. A water ditch was dug around Zamkova Gora, fortified with an oak palisade – palanquin. The modern name of the castle is obviously derived from this palanquin.

During this period, the Mukachevo Castle became an important military-strategic point that guarded the borders of Hungary in the northeast, and the importance of the city itself, located at the crossroads of important trade routes to Poland and Russia, Moravia and the Czech Republic, increased.
After the death of Fyodor Koryatovych, Mukachevo Castle passed into the possession of his widow, Princess Olga, and after her death in 1418, the regent of the Hungarian Kingdom, Janos Gunyadi, became the owner of the castle.

After the defeat of the Hungarian army in the Battle of Mogac in 1526, the city and the castle were in the possession of the Transylvanian princes, Emperor Ferdinand I, the Habsburgs and the Austrian Empire.

Мукачево. Замок Паланок

In 1625, the Transylvanian prince György I Rakotsi bought the castle for 200,000 forints. The Rakotsi family owned the city and domain until 1711 with a short break and turned it into the capital of their principality. In the second half of the 17th century French military engineers were invited to reconstruct the Mukachevo Castle. The improvement of the fortress continued until the beginning of the 18th century.


Three castles and four terraces.

The modern fortress consists of four terraces on which three castles are built. The Middle and Lower Castles were attached to the old Upper Castle, as well as the outer defensive ring, which consisted of a moat filled with water, earthen ramparts, a palisade and a stone wall with loopholes.

The first terrace.

The first terrace is Predzamche, which was a watchtower surrounded by a dry moat, over which a drawbridge was thrown.

Second terrace.

On the second terrace is the Lower Castle, built in 1670, the approaches to which are guarded by two strong bastions, with walls up to 3.5 m thick.

Third terrace.

On the third terrace of the Middle Castle, the construction of economic, service and residential premises (commandant’s office, knight’s hall, arsenal, barracks, kitchen) continued for many years.

Fourth terrace.

The fourth terrace of the Upper or Old Castle is built with two- and three-story chambers of the owners of the fortress, which form a small courtyard, open from the side of the Middle Castle. A castle church is attached to the chambers.


Secrets of the castleу.

A narrow 30-meter trap corridor leads to the fourth terrace. If the enemy managed to break into this corridor, metal gates were lowered at the entrance and exit, and the defenders of the fortress poured boiling water, hot pitch, and burning torches from the holes in the ceiling. No one managed to get out of this trap alive.

A secret passage led from the second floor to the tower, built under Prince Koryatovych, where the torture chamber was located. An oak crossbar with hooks for the gallows has been preserved, and in those places where the prisoners were chained to the wall, stones polished by the bodies are visible.
A steep winding road led to the castle along the southern slope of the mountain, but at the beginning of the 18th century. it was replaced by a new one on the western slope, which still exists today.

In 1648-1649 and 1656, the castle was visited by the ambassadors of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, who held negotiations here with Prince Györde I Rakotsi about joint actions against noble Poland.
Mukachevo Castle was attacked several times by the Austrian army. In 1685-1688 during the first uprising of the Kuruts, the defense of the fortress was led by the widow of Ferenc I Rakocza – Ilona Zrini, who later became the wife of the rebel leader Imre Tekeli.

The population of the city and surrounding villages, led by the princess, heroically defended themselves against the Austrian invaders for almost three years. Only by deception did the Austrians manage to sign the act of capitulation on January 15, 1688. The city and castle were occupied by Austrian troops.
By order of Emperor Leopold II, the castle was reconstructed – high towers and the old keep were demolished, the defense system was moved from the walls on top of Castle Hill to its foot. The castle acquired a modern look.

In February 1704, the rebel army, led by the son of Ilona Zrini – Ferencs II Rakotsi, captured the Mukachevo fortress. The castle was fortified and reconstructed. Here Ferenc II Rakoczi received the ambassadors of Peter I, here was the treasury and arsenal of the rebel army.

After the defeat of the rebels on July 24, 1711, the castle passed to the treasury of the Austrian emperor.
At the foot of the castle hill, for a long time, a whole fortification complex was formed and the settlement of Palanok was formed, where, in addition to warriors, craftsmen and ordinary people also lived. After the suppression of the liberation war, soldiers of the Austrian army who had finished their service settled in Palanki, and colonists from Bavaria (Swabians) settled in the Schönborn family. Residents of Palanock still use the Swabian dialect of German in their everyday life. In 1944, the village had 245 houses with 1,053 inhabitants.


The decline of the castle.

At the end of the 18th century after the partition of Poland, the borders of the Austrian Empire were pushed east to Galicia and the Mukachevo fortress lost its strategic importance. In 1789 – 1896, the fortress was used as a prison and received the name of the Austrian Bastille.

For a long time, the castle stood empty and fell into disrepair. In 1922-1926, the fortress was rebuilt and turned into a military barracks. In the 1940s and 1950s, the NKVD bodies were housed in the castle premises for some time, then a school for machine operators, courses for heads of collective farms and a vocational technical school.
Now the castle has been restored. The Mukachevo historical and local history museums, an art salon, and the exhibition “Wooden Churches of Transcarpathia” are located here.


Wooden Churches of Transcarpathia

The expositions of the Mukachevo Historical Museum are located in the halls of the Upper Castle. Rare objects of the Stone Age, Copper and Bronze Age, found during archaeological excavations in Transcarpathia, are presented here.
Among the exhibits related to the medieval history of the region, you can see the weapons of the defenders of the castle and documentary materials of the events that took place in Mukachevo and Transcarpathia in the 20th century.
The department of ethnography broadly presents the life and daily life of the inhabitants of the city and Transcarpathia in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The gallery exhibits the canvases of prominent Transcarpathian painters and modern paintings by Ukrainian, Hungarian, and Polish masters.


Exhibition “Wooden churches of Transcarpathia”

It is represented by paintings depicting the unique temples of the region in the 17th-19th centuries. You can also view a collection of icons from different regions of Ukraine.
The museum has several memorial rooms and a collection of Easter eggs from Transcarpathia.

From the city center, you can get to the castle by moving along Ilona Zrini Street or Count Shenborn Street, and further along Kurutsiv Street.

Working hours: 9:00-18:00 (9:00-17:00 in winter)

Admission tickets:
Adults – UAH 40, students, pensioners – UAH 30, students – UAH 20

Cost of the excursion:
Adults – UAH 150, students – UAH 100


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