The Brest Fortress is officially known as Brest-Litovsk Fortress and it is strategically situated near the Polish border, at the site where the rivers Bug and Mukavet meet. In its early days the fortress was one of the most remarkable military citadels in all of Russia but today it has been transformed into a commemorative monument which stands for the Soviet resistance in front of the German invasion – a battle which took place on the 22nd of June, 1941.
The fortress was built between 1836 and 1842 by three military engineers Opermann, Maletzky and Feldmann, but the plan of the edifice was developed by Delovan, another military engineer, in 1836. History has it that the entire project was in effect a colossal undertaking as it meant moving a great part of the Brest town further to the east (with a couple of kilometers).
The plan was extremely bold and none considered that would ever see the light of day. The focal point of the fortification was the citadel, a construction consisting of two stories and which was designed to hold 12.000 soldiers within its walls.
The Brest Fortress underwent two consolidation works: one occurred between 1878 and 1888, and the second between 1911 and 1914. The reason for which the fortress is seen as a memorial monument is because of the will with which the people have defended their city. They have resisted in front of the German army for many weeks even if they were outnumbered and even if they had fewer weapons.
After the German invasion, nothing remained from the Brest Fortress except ruins. In 1960, the Soviet authorities have decided to erect a monument on the ruins of the fortress in order to commemorate the courageousness of the people that have fought against the Germans in that fatidic day. The construction received the title of “Hero Fortress” in 1965 and the same year the construction work for a memorial was initiated – which was completed in 1971.
Tourists who visit the fortress will also have the chance to see several monumental sculptures, which have been specially ordered for the adornment of the site. One of the most impressive ones is a massive silhouette called “Thirst” which is representative for “the thirst for life, battle and victory.”
The Brest Fortress has a stellar shape. The citadel, the epicenter of the fortification, is built out of red bricks and consists of 500 rooms. The original structure of the edifice counted 4 gates and 4 turrets, but nowadays only two gates stand their ground: the Kholm and the Terespol Gates; everything else lies in ruin.
Three fortifications enclosed the citadel. These were named after three towns: Kobrin, Terespol, and Volyn. The first one, which was shaped as a horseshoe, was the largest one and was situated to the north-east. The Terespol Fortification controlled the western part whereas the Volyn looked over the south eastern area.
The Best Fortress offers a glimpse of Europe’s historical past so if you ever get the occasion to visit this part of the world, do not miss your chance.