Places of Transcarpathia. Uzhgorod and Mukachevo
Transcarpathia is a particular part of Ukraine. This region over the Carpathian Mountains has a unique nature and architecture. Tourists come here from all over the world to see its well-preserved castles with a long and troubled history.
Uzhgorod Castle is a former residence of Uzhgorod rulers, an aristocratic Italian family of Drugets. In the times of frequent and bloody wars the most important quality of a dwelling was its reliability and protection rather than beauty of exterior, and Uzhgorod Castle is truly a specimen of an impregnable fortress. Built on the top of a 30-meter hill, it is surrounded by protruded bastions equipped with canons. The castle itself is a citadel designed with defense on mind. This is a stern two-storied building with square towers in the corners, with walls three meters thick and arrow-loops in the top of each tower. The castle is engirded by a moat, with a bridge crossing it and leading to an arch, which is the entrance to the inner yard of the building. Above the arch there is a bas-relief representing four thrushes, which is the coat of arms of the Drugets. The castle houses a historical museum possessing a richest collection of ancient bronze wares.
Under the castle hill there is another interesting museum of folk architecture and lifestyle. Here you can see wooden architecture of Carpathian ethnic groups such as Lemky, Boyki and Hutsuls.
Another important architectural monument of Uzhgorod is the old Goriansky rotunda. This temple, though simple in appearance, is decorated with wonderful frescoes of the 13 th- 14th centuries.
In the city of Mukachevo, there are sights as interesting as the ones we have mentioned before. Mukachevo Palanok Castle is built on a 68-meter hill lonely rising over the Valley of Latorytsa River. On the top of the hill there stands the oldest part of the castle formed in the 15th century called “upper castle,” while on the terraces beneath it there are “middle” and “lower” castles built in the middle of the 17th century. Bastions surround each castle, and there are fortified gates leading to the middle and lower castles, with bridges crossing wide moats. Mukachevo castle is an impregnable fortress, and not for once has it been the last unconquered place in the Transcarpathian land. It belonged to Transilvanian princes Rakotsi who fought for Hungary’s independence from Austrian rulers, the Habsburgs. Nowadays the castle has been turned into a historical museum, its galleries containing the exhibition of modern sculpture.
Other sights of the city are mostly situated near Mir (Peace) Square: there you can visit the city hall, St. Martin’s Cathedral and the city residence of Rakotsi called “White Palace”. This is also the place where most respectable hotels, restaurants and cafes can be found. In the outskirt of the city, there is Mykolayevsky (St. Nicolas’) monastery, founded in the 11th century.
The Fighting Past of the Mukachevo Castle
Mukachevo Palanok Castle has often been the center of combat area. For almost three yean (1685-1688), it was under siege of the Austrian army. It is interesting that the commander of the defenders was … a woman, Dona Zrinij the favorite heroine of Mukachevo people who became the symbol of courage and gallantry her son Ferenz the Second Rakotsi led the national liberation uprising of Hungarians and made Mukachevo the capital of Transilvania…