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Common board – common heritage

New look on Polish and Turkish castles on Dniester

„Collaboration in Public Diplomacy 2014”

Shared Border – Shared Heritage.

A New View on Polish and Turkish Fortresses on the Dniester

The project is addressed mainly to young people interested in history, geography and travelling. The subject matter, thanks to an attractive form, will also attract people interested in the past and studying its evidence regardless of their age or country of origin.

The project is aimed at documenting, organising the available information and promoting knowledge of the preserved material evidence of the relations between Poland and Turkey. It is remains of fortresses built on both the sides of the former Polish-Turkish border on the Dniester. At present, they are located in Ukraine. The “distance” from present-day Poland and Turkey is not favourable to preserving the memory of the often symbolic role of these monuments. The knowledge of this is sinking deeper and deeper into oblivion with every generation. What is as important as reminding the young Poles and Turks of the past is making the inhabitants of present-day Ukraine aware of the value of the preserved relics. When they learn more about the historical attractions of their region and increase their historical awareness, they will care for this evidence of the shared past.

The project corresponds with the intensification of the collaboration between the countries due to the 600th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Poland and Turkey. At the same time, the project is aimed at popularising the knowledge of the history of Poland and Turkey and at drawing the attention of the public to the shared heritage and thus, laying the foundations for intercultural dialogue in Poland.

One of the main tasks within the project is documentation of places connected with the shared history of Poland and Turkey, such as: Terebovlya, the Rampart of the Virgin Mary, the Ramparts of the Holy Trinity, Zhvanets, Kamyanets-Podilsky, Khotyn. The choice of places was dictated by the knowledge of the state of preservation of the monuments, their accessibility and role which they played in the past. The studied section of the border on the Dniester played an important role in the relations between Poland and Turkey, not only military, but also trade and cultural ones. During archival and library research as well as field study, special attention will be paid to the Ramparts of the Holy Trinity (Ternopil Oblast). It is a relatively little known spot on the tourist map. The fortifications have not been examined sufficiently, but they are a very important place in the Polish cultural awareness. The fortress protected the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after the fall of Kamyanets-Podilsky. It is also a place famous for its heroic defence against the Russian army during the Bar Confederation (e.g. K. Pułaski fought there). The Ramparts of the Holy Trinity are also brought up in Z. Krasiński’s The Undivine Comedy.

The gathered source information including iconography as well as films and photos taken from the ground and from the air and journey accounts is supposed to be used for the creation of the final product – a website containing a compendium of knowledge of the studied area. It will be a website combining reliable information on history and architectural monuments edited by specialists with an account of the journey to these places and their documentation. Nowadays, when young people are bombarded with a mass of various information by all kinds of media, it is important that a person interested in a given subject obtain reliable, accurate and high quality “first-hand” information presented in a way that is acceptable and easy to assimilate on various levels of perception (text, photos, films, maps). The Polish website will be translated into several languages: English, Turkish, and Ukrainian, in order to make it more accessible to visitors from various countries. The project will also be promoted throughout its course by means of a blog created by its participants, which will be both an account of the journey and documentation of individual activities within the project. The blog will be propagated in universally available social media. A more conventional way of encouraging people to broaden their knowledge of the studied places will be a poster exhibition, which will show the uniqueness and historical values of the fortresses on the Polish-Turkish border thanks to large format photos. Wall charts with captions in several languages (Polish, Turkish, Ukrainian, English) travelling through various parts of the countries after the end of the project will be used for the promotion of the final product, that is the website.

The tasks within the project in Ukraine will be performed in collaboration with and with the support of the Ukrainian partners: Vasyl Stefanyk Subcarpathian National University in Ivano-Frankivsk and Ivan Ohienko National University in Kamyanets-Podilsky.


Field work planned in the schedule of the project has been conducted. During journeys to the Dniester, abundant documentation has been gathered. It includes mainly photos and films. They show not only the fortresses on the Dniester in their present state. They also present other interesting places “on the route” and meetings in the field, mainly with employees and students of Ukrainian partner universities. The most valuable ones among them are aerial photographs, which it has been possible to take in most of the planned places. An important addition is tridimensional documentation recording the state of preservation of the Ramparts of the Holy Trinity. According to the participants, the most interesting event during the journeys was the ceremonial reopening and reconsecration of the Church of the Holy Trinity in the Ramparts. After decades, the church symbolising the heroic fights of the Poles in the borderlands came back to life. Certainly, it is a new, very important and recommendable spot on the tourist map of Western Ukraine.

(Text: Radosław Karasiewicz-Szczypiorski; aerial photographs: Krystian Trela; photographs from the ground: Radosław Karasiewicz-Szczypiorski and Krystian Trela).