The Fortress


The site is a natural stronghold: a small strip of high rocks linking the Zbruch and Dniestr rivers.

Consequently, it was chosen, in 1692, by King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, as a stronghold to stop a possible attack from the nearby Turkish-seized fortresses of Kamieniec Podolski (now Kamianets-Podilskyi, 20 kilometres away) and Chocim (now Khotyn, 8 kilometres away).

Tylman of Gameren, one of the most notable Polish architects of the time, decided to build a double line of fortifications (two rampart lines of bastion system) with two gates

Lwow Gate

leading westwards


the original image can be found at, given as external link for the entry of "Okopy, Ternopil Oblast" in Wikipedia, with no mention of copyrights.

Kamieniec Gate

leading eastwards

The construction started under the command of the General of Horse Artillery, Marcin Katski, and the works were finished in the same year. The nearby village was also fortified. The fortress was continually enlarged and was regarded as the strongest in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.


In 1693 King Jan III Sobieski built a church in the compound.

Decoration of the Church - Polish and Lithuanian Coats of Arms


The stronghold is said to have been abandoned in 1699, when the rest of Podolia was returned to Poland, and the fortress lost its importance as a counterbalance to Kamieniec Podolski .

However, according to the 1850 Slownik Geograficzny, there is evidence of several official Hetmans’ visits to Okopy during the reign of King August III (1733-1763). This would indicate that the stronghold was still both occupied and operational.

Furthermore, records of the Polish SEJM from 1764 mention budgets for the maintenance of the stronghold and other records mention that, under the reign of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski (1764-1770), the stronghold was still staffed and was even renovated .

In 1769, the Bar Confederates, under the command of Kazimierz Pulaski (later to become hero of the American Revolutionary War and “Father of the American Cavalry”) defended the stronghold against the besieging forces of Russia.

After the Partition of Poland in 1772, the village and the remains of the stronghold became the easternmost point of Austrian Galicia. The nearby town was abandoned, and the inhabitants of the village moved inside of the fortress walls. Most of the houses that were built then were made from the stones that had been used to construct the earlier defensive walls.


(C) 2010 Rivka S. Moscisker