The History of a Fortress. Palanok Castle.

Mystical Castles of Ukraine. Palanok

Castles and fortresses are rightfully top-ranked in the ratings of the most visited places in Ukraine . According to various catalogs, created by historians, about 1000 castles, fortresses and defensive structures were built on the territory of Ukraine from ancient times until the XVIII century. Of course, not many of them survived to this day, but each of those that survived, is truly unique and keeps a lot of mysteries and secrets within its walls.

Each castle has a lot of history, as they have seen many wars, dozens of dynasties and many deaths. Each castle has its own ghosts roaming the corridors and penetrating through closed doors. There are many legends, but maybe they are not legends at all. After all, there are special places on earth where very strange things happen. Even if you do not believe in the existence of ghosts, the special energy of such places will feel everyone. This is something special…

My story about the most mysterious and mystical castles of Ukraine .


Palanok Castle – Mukachevo Castle is located in the town of Mukachevo in Zakarpattia region. This former residence of the Transylvanian Duchy has an extremely rich history. The castle is situated on a mountain of volcanic origin, 68 meters high, and occupies an area of about 14 thousand square meters. The exact date of foundation of the castle is unknown; it was first mentioned in the documents dating back to the XI century. It is known that the first building on the top of the mountain was a square tower of stone, built to protect and control the trade routes, which had long passed near Mukachevo.

Fedor Koriatovich.

From 1396 to 1414 the castle was owned by Prince Fyodor Koriatovich, who received the castle as a gift from the Hungarian King Sigismund. The Prince of Podol fortified the castle and significantly increased its size, making it his residence. The Prince turned Palanok into an impregnable fortress with more than 150 armatas (pieces of artillery) that could withstand a siege for up to 5 years. The longest siege in the castle’s history lasted almost three years – the defense against the Habsburg Austrian troops: courageously held by Princess Ilona Zrini.

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In the cellars of the castle, large supplies of provisions could be stored. Beneath the stone tower, in case of a prolonged siege, Koriatowicz had a well hollowed out in basalt volcanic rock, 85 metres deep (!) and 2.5 metres wide.

There is a legend connected to the history of the well…

The well of Palanok castle

When the depth of the well was already below the level of the river Latorica, and there was still no water in it, Koriatowicz in despair, threw a phrase that he was ready to give his soul to the devil for water. And immediately a dark figure appeared near him and asked: “If tomorrow there is water in the well, will you give five bags of gold in return? “. The prince agreed-he thought he was being pranked, for in the dark figure he thought he saw his jester. The next morning the well was filled with clear water…

The well of Palanok castle

The prince summoned his jester and began to question him about how he had managed it, and then he realized that in fact, the previous night he had made a pact with an evil force. The court servant realized that the devil had not told him how big the sacks should be or how much gold they contained. Koriatovich jumped at the idea, and in the evening he ordered five small sacks to be sewn and one gold coin each to be placed in them. At night he brought them to the well. The devil was very angry that he had been cheated, and with the words “You will not drink water from the well anyway”, he disappeared into the well. Immediately the water from the well disappeared (there is no water even today), and local residents assure that at night from the depths of the well there is a long frightening howl… you can hear “how the devil comes into his mouth”. historical documents.

According to historical documents, the depth of the castle well was 85-86 meters. Now its depth is 40,5 meters – but there is no water in it, it disappeared in the XIX century. Surely, the devil “tried” – because 500 years have been waiting for the promised … In recent years, the well began to clear.

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There is another legend: if in the well threw the duck, then after a while it floated out into the river Latoritsa, to which, supposedly, from the well leads 600-meter underground channel . But how could a castle manage without underground channels and passages? They say that there are such dungeons and underground roads in Mukachevo castle, that one could ride through them in a carriage pulled by a pair of horses to any castle in Transylvania .

During its long history Palanok castle has had many owners. Each one altered the architecture and appearance of the fortress. In the 16th century, a 17.5m wide and 6.5m deep moat was dug around the mountain and filled with water from the Latoritsa River. A century later, to strengthen the defense of the castle, sturdy oak paling was built on the inner edge of the moat. It was called “palanok”. Thanks to it Mukachevo castle got its name. Historians believe that in the IX-X centuries, there was a small strengthening on the mountain, built to protect the borders of Kievan Rus.

During the XV-XVI centuries, the castle was in the hands of various rulers, who conducted further work on its fortification and construction. At that time, the defense system of the castle included 14 watchtowers, several drawbridges, a large princely house (42 rooms), 88 rooms for the servants, 25 basement rooms, 22 casemates, a household yard with stables, a brewery, a gunpowder factory – a real small town.

In 1633, Transylvanian prince György I Rakoczi bought Mukachevo castle with the right of succession. The Rakoczi princes turned the castle into the capital of their princedom and owned it until 1711, when all the possessions of the princely family were confiscated by the Habsburgs.

Palanok Castle has both romantic and mystical fame.

Ilona Zrini

Palanok was made famous by two women, Sofia Báthory and Ilona Zrini – mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, who feuded with each other. But if Ilona went down in history as a national heroine of Hungary and Croatia, Sophia Báthory had a mystical fame.

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Sophia Báthory and her son Ferenc I settled in the castle after the death of György I I Rákoci. The Báthory family name is undoubtedly familiar to many people from scary vampire stories. But it is not Erzsebet Báthory (The Bloody Countess), a Hungarian countess of the Báthory family known for her serial murders of young girls. Sophia Báthory, a distant relative of Erzsébet Báthory, was also incredibly cruel and earned herself quite a bad reputation.

“Palanok has an extremely rich history. International documents and peace treaties were signed here, and people’s uprisings took place on its territory. In 1649, the castle was visited by Hetman Bohdan Khmelnitsky’s ambassadors, who negotiated with Dyerd Ili Rakoczi about common military actions against Poland.

In the course of its history, Palanok Castle has been visited by all-European political prison. After the fall of the Bastille in 1789, it was here that prisoners from all over Austria-Hungary were sent to.

It survived countless owners and inhabitants, dozens of storms and sieges, and has remained in almost perfect condition to this day.

Castle Palanok is the subject of a $5.00 999 silver coin from the series “Ukraine’s Twelve Wonders”.

You can read more about the mystical castles of Ukraine in the following articles.

Palanok Castle in Mukachevo: history, legends, facts

Palanok Castle

Palanok Castle is the main sight of Mukachevo, built on a 65-meter high volcanic mountain.

The castle occupies 1.4 hectares. There are well preserved secret underground tunnels that once served as a shelter for people and cattle.

The word “Palanok” from which the name of the castle was derived, is borrowed from the Turkish: palanka – fort, strengthening, covered with earth.

Palanok Castle

History of Mukachevo castle

In the XI century, following the order of King Laszlo I, a stone donjon tower was built on the site of the ancient wooden fortifications. In 1321, under the will of King Charles Robert, Italian masters enlarged the stronghold, and the present appearance of the fortress was given in the XVII century by Dyerd I. Rakoczi.

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Palanok Castle served as the control of trade routes through the Werecki Pass, which connected the Middle Danube Valley with Eastern Europe.

The fortress has withstood many sieges.

Palanok Castle

The most famous defense in 1685-88 was led by Ilona Zrini, widow of Ferenc Rakoczi. For three years, thanks to cunning, she repelled the attacks of the Austrians, who were able to force the garrison to surrender.

For a long time the castle was a stronghold of the Hungarian national liberation struggle under the leadership of her son, Ferenc II Rakoczi. There are monuments to both of them on the territory of the castle.

Under the Austrians there was a prison for political prisoners, and under the Soviets there were different institutions. Since 1993 Mukachevo castle premises are occupied by a historical museum and an art gallery.

In the castle cellars there is a wine tasting room with “Chizai” brand.

Legends of Palanok Castle

Palanok Castle

Inside, in the courtyard, you can see a deep well, which, supposedly, connects by secret passages to the banks of Latoriza.

This well was dug by order of the Prince of Podolia Feodor Koryatovich, who owned “Palanok” in the XIV-XV centuries. It was Koryatovich who expanded the castle, and turned it into a well fortified fortress.

According to legends, the work was not very successful – it was difficult to dig a deep well, its walls were crumbling, and water did not appear.

When the prince was already in despair, the devil appeared before him – and offered help. But the devil’s help had a price: a sack of gold. The prince would have been happy to pay for the well, but the treasury was empty. Then one of Koryatovich’s assistants hinted: a bag of gold is an ambiguous measure, the devil did not specify how much gold there should be, did he? The prince heeded the advice, and threw the last two gold coins into the sack, handing it to the unclean man.

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The devil was indignant, but the agreement was already made. In a terrible rage, the unclean man threw himself into the well, and disappeared in it with the words, “You won’t drink the water anyway!” Since then, some sounds and rustles have been heard in the well – it is the deceived devil that is fiddling around.

And another legend of the castle is associated with two women.

Sophia Báthory and Ilona Zriny – mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, who managed to manage the castle and feud with each other.

And if Ilona went down in history as a brave defender of the fortress, Sophia Bathory has suffered a mystical, terrible glory. It is often said that this woman had a taste for human blood and not only killed for it, but also took blood baths, sacrificing 13-year-old virgins.

Palanok Castle

Tourists who are fond of medieval architecture and ancient fortresses should not limit their visit to Mukachevo castle.

We recommend you go to the village Chinadievo, where the castle “Sainte Miklosh” is located. – a romantic castle from the 14th century.

Moreover, from Mukachevo you can easily get to the palace of count Schoenborn. That means that you can have a theme tour through the castles and palaces of Zakarpattya.

Address: Zakarpattya region, Mukachevo, 5 Kurutsev Lane

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