A Brief History of the Bendery Fortress. Tourist booklet, 2015. | Бендерская Крепость
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A Brief History of the Bendery Fortress. Tourist booklet, 2015.

The Fortress of Bender is one of the most ancient installations in our region. Its history is unique. Even in XIII century, the Genoese vessels came up here from the Black Sea, from the Fortress of Akkerman. The Genoese sailors and traders built the trading fortress to defend themselves and their goods and, essentially, to defend the existed crossing on the river.

In 1538, aftr the conquestof the Crimea, the Ottoman Empire takes the Moldavian
Princedom. By the order of the sultan Suleiman I Kanuni, they expanded and rebuilt the
Genoese trading post with help of Italian architects. By 1541 the eight tower castle had already been built here.

The Cossack and Moldavian troops were seriously damaging the fortress. Then, by
the order of the Turkish sultan, the Moldavian prince Peter the Limp came here with a big team of builders to repair the damaged fortification: digging deep moat, building the Watch-tower and the Lower Fortress with two towers and water-moat. In 1619 Turkey was worried about the threat of Polish attacks on its south borders to conquer the Black Sea shore and Bender.

Then Turks in fact built a new fortress. The castle with dirt walls could not protect against the new heavy siege cannonry. So, they replaced it with the fortress of bastion type with high stone walls, which were able to resist the powerful cannonry.

The upper part of the fortress was a huge fortification of its time, and its area was almost 70 hectares. Today we see this fortress, and it looks exactly how it was described by the Turkish traveller Evlia Chelebi.

Charles XII, the king of Sweden, who ran away with the rest of his troops in 1709 after he had lost the battle with hetman Mazepa and his cossacks nearby Poltava, stayed
for over three years near the walls of the Fortress of Bender. After Ivan Mazepa’s death,
Philipp Orlik was appointed the hetman of the «Zaporozjskaya Setch». He wrote «The Treaty and Laws and Freedoms of the Zaporozjskaya Setch», where he divided governance in three branches: legislative, executive and judicial.

Charles Friedrich Baron von Münchhausen had been in the troops, leaded by the field
marshal Minich. In summer of 1738, on the left shore of the Dniester, the Russian army, where Münchhausen had been, came to the Fortress of Bender, and exactly over our fortress walls the resourceful baron flew on the cannon ball. Initially it was a Russian ball, and then he returned by the Turkish one back to the Russian army. Minich didn’t manage to conquer the fortress. Soon Münchhausen returned back to St. Petersburg, from there he departed to Riga, where baron was promoted to the battalion commander
Brunswick cuirassier regiment and personally met the future Empress Catherine II on her arrival in Russia.

The walls of the Bendery Fortress survived in three Russian-Turkish wars. During one
of those battles in 1768–1774 the Russian troops, led by the general in chief Peter Panin, took by storm possession the fortress during the night of September 15th 1770.
However, in 1774 Russians had to leave it in accordance with the peace treaty signed in Kiuchuk-Kainarji. Then the fortress was retaken by Turks.

During the Russian-Turkish war of 1787–1791 the Russian troops, commanded by G.A. Potemkin, in 1789 approached to the Fortress of Bender. Thanks to the victories of A.V. Suvorov in Rimnik, the surrender of the fortresses Ochakov and Akkerman by Turks, on November 4th 1789 our fortress capitulated in response to an ultimatum.

In accordance with the Yasskiy peace treaty, the right shore of the river again was given back to the Turks, and Russian troops left the Fortress.

In 1806, when Napoleon was taking the countries of Europe without any battle, the Russian army corps, commanded by the general Meyendorf, approached to the Fortress of Bender. They provided the serasker (chief) of the fortress, Gassan-pasha with generous gift and he let them enter the fortress without any resistance.

In December 18th 1806 the sultan declared war with Russia, and it had been lasted until 1812. Then, according to the Bessarabia peace agreement, the fortress was transferred to Russia forever and soon entered the newly formed region of the Russian Empire called Bessarabia.

The Ukrainian play-writer Ivan Kotliarevskiy, who participated in the liberation of the fortress from Turksin 1806, described that event in the «Battle Record Book of the general’s corps of the Meyendorf cavalry».

From that moment the Fortress of Bender became a strong home front of the Russian Army. They built multiples storages for weapons, supplies and food. They also built a fist-class military hospital. In 1833 the Alexander Nevsky church was built in the fortress. In the period of 1822–1916 four Russian imperators visited Bendery-town and the fortress of Bendery: Alexander I in 1822, Nikolay I in 1828, Alexander II in 1861 and 1871, Nikolay II in 1916.

The existed trading quarter was demolished, and Russian military engineers built a new city. From 1812 to the beginning of the World War I more than 100 regiments and detachments of the Russian imperial army were deployed in the city and in the fortress.

The 55th Podolskiy Infantry Regiment has constantly been deployed in the city during more than thirty years. This regiment significantly influenced the view and the history of the city.

The fortress was occupied twice by Romanians. For the first time, after the World War I, from 1918 to 1940 and for the second one, during the WWII, from 1941 to 1944.

From the beginning of 1946 the 2-nd Independent Compounded Pontoon Regiment has been deployed in the fortress, as well as some different detachments of the Soviet army. In that period the modern buildings were built in the fortress.

From 2008 the planned reconstruction of this unique monument of the medieval architecture has been made.


  • Thank you for your interesting description of Bendery fortress history in english language !!
    I have been to the fortress in the year 2016, but at that time no such excellent description was available. I hope that Transnistrias government can manage to proceed in restoration of this marvellous monument.
    Best wishes from Austria

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