Kamenets Tower

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The majestic building resembling a chess rook is located on the hill near the Lesnaya River which was full-flowing back then. According to the chronicles, the Kamenets Tower was built between 1276 and 1288 on the orders of Galicia–Volhynia Prince Vladimir Vasilkovich by architect Aleksa who found the site to build a town and a wooden castle. The Kamenets Tower is Volhynian type and shares some features with donjon towers that were widespread in Western Europe in the 12th-13th centuries. The five-tier round building (30 meters high, 2.5 meters thick with the outer diameter of 13.6 meters) has a 2.3-meter-high foundation which is 16 meters in diameter. The tower is made of dark-red and yellowish bricks.

A model of ancient Kamenets

Kamenets Tower

The tower in Kamenets was built for defensive purposes and therefore lacks architectural and decorative elements. Instead, it has thin portholes and four flat niches with semicircular ends. The top part of the tower, which is now an observation platform, is surrounded by 14 rectangular merlons with apertures. A decorative strip runs around the top of the tower. The same towers were widespread in many Belarusian towns such as Brest, Grodno, Mstislavl, Myadel, Novogrudok, Polotsk, Radoshkovichi, Turov and Shklov but only the Kametets Tower still survives as a unique specimen of the medieval architecture. During the 14th-17th centuries the tower survived crusaders’ raids and assaults by Polish and Lithuanian forces, armies of Rzeczpospolita, Sweden and the Moscow State.

A model of the Kamenets Tower as part of the exposition of the museum

A hall at the Kamenets Tower museum dedicated to the armor of the late 13th – early 16th centuries

By the 19th century the Kamenets tower had lost its defensive importance and was neglected. In 1822 attempts were made to disassemble the brick masonry, but over the centuries it turned into a stone.
The remains of the earth mound which the tower stood on disappeared in 1903 following restoration works. According to Suslov’s architectural project, the earth mound was removed and the first tier, which had been considered a cellar, appeared above the ground. A stone rampart was built around the tower. That was the last major restoration of the tower and since then the appearance of the Kamenets Tower has not changed. In the early 1950s the tower was for the first time whitened and the floor was paved with stone. Restoration works were also carried out in 1968-1973 and 1996-2003.

The medieval festival near the Kamenets Tower

Founder of the town of Kamenets Prince Vladimir Vasilkovich

There are a lot of myths and legends surrounding the Kamenets Tower. Some of them are plausible, some are nothing but fairytales. One of such fantastic legends says that the Kamenets Tower was built by an unknown giant and is a monument to him. Today the Kamenets Tower is a historical and cultural monument protected by the state. The Kamenets Tower museum is located here, too. The excursions named "Kamenets’ Architectural Monuments" are organized on the observation platform of the tower. This must-see site is included in various excursions. The Kamenets Tower is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.

The town of Kamenets

Picture depicting the construction of the Kamenets Tower

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