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Kamenets-Podolsk

Kamenets-Podolsk is a city located on the Smotrich River in Western Ukraine. Kamenets-Podolsk is famous for its historic center and ancient fortress dating back to the 11th-18th centuries, and for ballooning activities in the canyon of the Smotrich River. Since 1998 the city has been growing as a tourist center.

Sudak

Sudak is historic townlet of about 15,000 inhabitants in Crimea. Nowadays, it is a popular resort well-known for its Genoese fortress, the best preserved on the northern shore of the Black Sea. Sudak was founded by Greek merchants from Byzantium in the 3rd century AD. The Khazars pronounced its name as Sugdak, the Slavs as Surozh, and the Italians as Soldaia. It is thought that the Khazars retained the town from the early 700s until 1016. Afterwards, the town seems to have preserved some sort of autonomy within Byzantine Empire. In the 13th century, the site was occupied by the Venetians, who ceded it to Genoese control in 1365. The Ottomans wrestled it from the Genoese in 1475 and, after much looting, gave to the Crimean Khanate. In 1783, Sudak definitively passed to the Russian Empire, with the rest of Crimea. In 1801, the first Russian school of viticulture was opened there.

Balaklava

Balaklava is a town in Crimea. It became famous for the Battle of Balaklava during the Crimean War, featuring the suicidal Charge of the Light Brigade. Balaklava has changed hands many times during history. A settlement at its location was originally founded under the name of Symbolon by the Ancient Greeks, for whom it was an important commercial city. During the Middle Ages, it was controlled by the Byzantine Empire and then by Genoese who conquered it in 1365 and named it Cembalo. The Genoese built up a large trading empire in both the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, buying slaves in Eastern Europe and shipping them to Egypt via Crimea, a lucrative market hotly contested with by the Venetians. It was supposedly on board a Genoese trading cog sailing back to Genoa from Balaklava that plague first arrived in Europe. The ruins of a Genoese fortress remain a popular tourist attraction to this day.

Theodosia

Theodosia is a port and resort city in Crimea. The city was founded by Greek colonists from Miletos in the 6th century BC. Noted for its rich agricultural lands, on which its trade depended, it was destroyed by the Huns in the 4th century AD. Theodosia remained a minor village for much of the next nine hundred years. It was at various times part of the sphere of influence of the Khazars and of the Byzantine Empire. Like the rest of Crimea, it was conquered by the Mongols in the 1230s. In the late 13th century, traders from Genoa arrived and purchased the town from the ruling Golden Horde. They established a flourishing trading settlement called Caffa (or Kaffa), which virtually monopolised trade in the Black Sea area and served as the chief port and administrative centre for the Genoese settlements around the Black Sea. It came to house one of Europe's biggest slave markets. Under Genoa since 1266, it was governed by a Genoese consul, who since 1316 was in charge of all of all Genoese Black Sea colonies. Because the Genoese started intervening in the internal affairs of the Crimean Khanate, the Ottoman commander Gedik Ahmet Pasha seized the city in 1475. Renamed Kefe, it became one of the most important Turkish ports on the Black Sea. Theodosia is known as the city where the seascape painter Ivan Aivazovsky lived and worked all his life.

Lutsk

Lutsk is a city located by the Styr River in north-western Ukraine. It is the administrative center of Volyn Region. The current estimated population is around 202,500. Lutsk is an ancient Slavic town. According to legends, Lutsk was founded in the 7th century. However, the first known documental reference is from the year 1085. The town was founded around a wooden castle built by a local branch of the Rurik Dynasty. At times the stronghold was a capital of the duchy, but since there was no need for a fixed capital in medieval Europe, the town did not become an important centre of commerce or culture. In 1240 the nearby town was seized and looted by the Tatars, but the castle was not harmed. In 1321 George son of Lev, the last of the line, died in a battle with the forces of Gediminas, Grand Duke of Lithuania and the castle was seized by the forces of the latter. During the Lithuanian rule the town began to prosper. Lubart, son of Gediminas, erected a stone castle as a part of his fortification effort. Vytautas the Great founded the proper town by importing colonists (mostly Jews, Tartars, Armenians and Karaims). His heir, Vytautas, was the last monarch to underline the title of Duke of Volhynia and reside in the castle.

Mukacheve

Mukacheve is a city located in the valley of the Latorica river in Zakarpattia Region, in western Ukraine. It has a castle from the IX to XVI centuries on top of the Lamkova hill. The population is now 77,300. Earlier it was part of the Kingdom of Hungary (11th century - 1918 and 1938-1944) and of Czechoslovakia (1918-1938 and 1944-1945). The castle of Munkacs, called the Palanok Castle, played an important role during the anti-Habsburg revolts in this territory and present-day Slovakia (1604 - 1711). This important fortress became a prison from the end of the 18th century and was used until 1897. The Greek national hero Alexander Ypsilanti was imprisoned in Munkacs castle from 1821 to 1823. The city now has beer, wine, tobacco, food, textile, timber and furniture industries. Mukacheve has a majority Ukrainian and Rusyn population with a significant minority of Hungarians and Jews.

Belgorod-Dnestrovsky

Belgorod-Dnestrovsky is a city situated on the right bank of the Dniester Liman (on the Dniester estuary leading to the Black Sea) in Odessa Region of southwestern Ukraine, in the historical region of Bessarabia. Its population is estimated at 48,100. Previous settlements on the current site of the city were called Tyras by the ancient Greeks and Album Castrum ("white castle") by the Romans. The Byzantine fortress was first noted as Asprocastron, a name deriving from the local Turkic word for "white" after the appearance of the shoreline with its high content of white animal shells. The word white as a basis for the name of the city has has persisted ever since. In the 6th century BC, Milesian colonists founded a settlement named Tyras which later came under Roman and Byzantine rule. The Byzantines built the fortress and named it Asprocastron. In 14th century the city was briefly controlled by the Republic of Genoa and by King Louis I of Hungary. In 1391 it was the last city on the right bank of the Dnister to be incorporated into the newly-established principality of Moldavia, and for the next century was its second major city, the major port and an important fortress, serving as the capital of Tara de Jos, one of the two divisions of Moldavia. Saint John the New, the protector of Moldavia, was martyred in the city in 1330 during a Tatar incursion. In 1484, it was the last of Black Sea ports to be conquered by the Ottomans. It was established as the fortress of Akkerman, part of the Ottoman defensive system. Major battles between the Ottomans and the Russians were fought near Belgorod in 1770 and 1789. It was incorporated into Russia in 1812, along with the rest of Bessarabia.

Khotyn

Khotyn is a city in Chernovtsy Region of western Ukraine. It has a population of 11,124. Khotyn, located on cliffs above the Dniester, was first chronicled in 1001, when it was a minor settlement of Kievan Rus. It later became part of the Principality of Halych and its successor, Halych-Volhynia. The town was an important trading center due to its location by a river crossing. A Genoese trading colony was established there by the 13th century. Khotyn was mentioned as a residence of a catholic bishop, being held in the first half of the 14'th century by the Kingdom of Poland, which intended to impose Catholicism to the local vlach communities. The first fortifications date back from this period. The present-day fortress was constructed after 1400 by the Moldavian ruler Alexander the Kind. From 1432, it was occupied for thirty years by Poland, due to the weakness of Alexander's successors. The fortress, strengthened by Stephen the Great in the 15th century, was the strongest on the northern border of medieval Moldavia. As the Moldovan state dwindled into insignificance, the Ottoman Empire sought to gain control of the strategic river crossing. As a result, Khotyn's later history was dominated by wars between the Christian powers and the expanding Ottoman Empire. The Turks suffered two decisive defeats at Khotyn in the 17th century, at the hands of the army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Ottoman Empire finally seized it in 1713 during the Great Northern War and held it during the following century. The Turks amplified and enlarged the citadel. Along with Eastern Moldavia, it passed to Russia in 1812, as a result of the Russo-Turkish War.

Olesko Castle

The first historical records of the Olesko Castle are in a document dated 1390, when Pope Boniface IX gave Halych, a Catholic bishop, this castle as a gift. It is located about seventy-five kilometers from Lvov. The Olesko Castle, oval in shape, stands on top of a small hill, about fifty meters in height. A moat and a wall surrounds it, which serves as a defence for the castle. The castle is also surrounded by a dense swamp. The castle was, at different times, owned by Poland, Lithuania, and Hungary. It became a political landmark in the 14th century when movable borders between the three aforementioned countries ran through its territory. Battles for ownership of the castle were constant. A deep well in the basement of the castle was used as an escape route for besieged prisoners. In the 15th century, the castle was changed from being a defense point, to simply a getaway for aristocracy. The castle is perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of the Polish king Jan III Sobieski, the hero of the Battle of Vienna. He often lived there, and collected many of the artworks currently displayed in the present-day museum. Another Polish king, king Mikhailo Korbut Vyshnevetsky, was also born here. The castle was restored in the late 16th to the early 17th centuries. Paintings and mosaics were brought in to decorate the different rooms of the castle. The castle was remodeled in the Italian Renaissance style, which was popular at that time. In 1838, an earthquake rocked the castle, partly destroying some areas. Both World War I and World War II affected the castle negatively, undoing previous restoration work. In 1956, the castle was struck by lightning. The castle was restored again in 1961-1985. Today, the castle is a museum, displaying the collections of antique furnishings and art dating from the 16th-17th centuries. It also features sculptures, paintings, still lives, applied arts, tapestries, period weapons, and objects used in everyday life at the time. The castle is a part of the "Golden Horseshoe", a ring of three castles: the Olesko, the Pidhirtsi, and the Zolochiv Castles.