Soroca Fortress (Cetatea Soroca)

The Soroca Fortress has been erected by Stephan the Great in the 15th century. The Moldavian keep, which had been built on the site of an ancient Genovese fortress, named Alciona, is situated right near Nistru River. But the edifice that stands erect in front of us at present is actually the work of Petru Rares, the son of Stephan the Great, who had rebuilt the fortress and had endowed it with walls made out of stone.

There are several historical documents which mention that a fortress was constructed on the bank of the river Nistru, and that wood or stone was the main material used in the construction work. The belief is that Soroca was erected out of wood and mud in the first decades of the 15th century, but the first documentary evidence of the edifice under discussion is available from the 12th of July 1499.

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Nistru cannot be crossed in too many points along its streamline as the banks are quite steep, but where this was possible there was also the risk of Tartar invasion and pillage of the Moldavian establishments. If the crossing points at Hotin and Tighina were safeguarded by the garrisons encountered in the fortresses which bore the same names as the towns in which they were located, Soroca was left defenseless. It was not until the time of Stephan the Great that measures of protection are finally taken – when the construction work of a wooden fortification began.

But due to the fact that the materials used initially suffered a lot under the weight of time, the edifice was damaged severely. The new fortress built by Petru Rares consists of stone walls and measures 15 to 20 m. Tourists will be pleased to hear that the fortress maintains the appearance given to it by Petru Rares so they will have the opportunity to gaze on an unique Moldavian medieval fortress which stands out due to its architectural structure.

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It is a circular construction with a diameter of 37,5 m, 4 circular towers and one rectangular tower. Measuring  15 m in height and 8 m in width. The structure is extremely tight in the sense that the towers are equally distanced from one another. Underneath the rectangular tower lies the entrance door.

Upon entering the fortress one can notice that the fort is structered on three levels. The 1st level used to consist of several stores and tunnels. The 2nd level consisted of living grounds. Access to the watchtowers was done through the second floor, but this also served as a defense mechanism for the stores located beneath, whereas the last floor was used mainly by guards in order to get access to the towers.

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The main tower, the rectangular one, also consisted of two parts: the section beneath was actually meant to provide access within the fortress (as it has been mentioned previously), whereas the superior part was transformed into a small chapel decarated with fresco works.

The fortress and the chapel have become emblems of Soroca. Many couples decide to get married here not solely because of the historical background of the location but also because it brings something new to the traditional marriage ceremony.

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After the mighty fortress was completed, Soroca began to grow in importance and it developed an administrative and commercial function due to the customs point established here. Likewise, the fortress was responsible for the development of the urban nucleus of Soroca which was meant to function as the commercial center of Moldavia.

The Soroca Fortress, whose historical and geographical personality was already clearly determined by the end of the 15th century, resulted from the need to establish a political frontier in the middle of the Nistru River, on the Naslavcea-Vadu Rascu portion, from the need to establish a commercial route which would be protected by the Soroca Fortress and to develop the economy in Soroca which would sustain the population in this region.

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The structure and architectural design were perfectly selected in the sense that no enemy fire could bring down the edifice. So the fortress fulfilled the purpose for which it was designed: providing defense.