The strongest fortress of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

The strongest fortress of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Kamianets-Podilskyi/Kamieniec Podolski: one of the most important fortresses of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This castle was substantial in keeping the southern borders of the country safe against the Turkish and Tatar forces. Around the stronghold grew a city, surrounded by waters of Smotrych River.

Irish man of letters from Kerry, Bernard O’Connor, served as a physician at the court of King John III Sobieski. He spent several years in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and later in life, he forged his experience into a lengthy book about the history, customs, and geography of this country. With help of the John Savage, in 1698 he published “The History of Poland, in several letters to persons of quality, giving an account of the ancient and present state of that kingdom” in London.

A map of the Kamianets-Podilskyi, published by Pieter Nortier, ca. 1702.

In his work, O’Connor described Kamianets-Podilskyi:

The Chief City of all which is Caminiec, situate on the Consines of Walachia, among Rocks and Hills. It is well fortify’d both by Nature and Art, and has a very strong Castle, build on an adjacent Rock which commands the Town. Its Avenue is cover’d with a Horn-work, which is separated from the Body of the place by a deep Moat. Both City and Castle are almost encompass’d by the Ricer Smotrzick, which a little below falls into Niester. The Rocks lie every way so high about this City, that you can discover only the Tops of the highest Houses. It lies fifteen Polish Miles from Bar to the West, thirty from Leopol, thirty six from Jassy, thirty from Kiow, eighty from Warsaw, and about a hundred ad seventy from Constantinople.

This strong city, which is the See of Prelat, Suffragan to the Arch-bishop of Leopol, was very much damag’d by a Fire in the Year 1669, and has been often in vain attackt by the utmost Fury of the Turks and Tartars (…).

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