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 to 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 means on the river. In 1538,after the conquest of 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 the help of Italian architects. By 1541, the eight tower castle had already been built here.
The Kazak and Moldavian troops were seriously damaging the fortress, therefore, by the order of the Turkish sultan, the Moldavian prince Peter the Limpercame here with a big team of builders and they repaired the damaged fortification. Another protective measure was the decision to dig a deep graff, to build the watch-tower and the Lower Fortress with two towers and another graff.
In 1619, Turkey was worried about the threat of Polish attacks on its south borders to conquer the Black Sea shore and Bender. Then the Turks in fact built a new fortress. The castles with high stone walls could not protect against the new heavy siege cannonry. So, they replaced them with the fortresses of bastion type with dirt dykes, 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 Elvi Chelebi.
Karl XII, the king of Sweden, who ran away with the rest of his troops in 1709 after he lost the battle with hetman Mazepa and his Kazaks near Poltava, stayed for over three years near the walls of the Fortress of Bender. After the death of Ivan Mazepa, Philipp Orlik became hetman of the Zaporozjskaya army. He wrote “The Treaty and Laws and Freedoms of the Zaporozjskaya army” where he divided thegovernance in three branches: legislative, executive and judicial.
Carl Friedrich Baron von Münchhausenwas in the troops leaded by the field marshal Minich. In summer of 1738, on the left shore of the Dniester, the Russian army where Münchhausenwas, came to the walls of the Fortress of Bender, and it was exactly over our fortress where the resourceful baron flew by a cannon ball. Initially it was a Russian ball, and then he returned by a Turkish one back to the Russian army. Minich didn’t manage to conquer the fortress.
The Ukrainian writer, Ivan Kotliarevskiy, who participated in the liberation of the fortress from the Turks in 1806, described that event in the Battle Record Book of the general’s corpsof the Meindorf cavalry.
The walls of the Fortress of Bender witnessed three Russian-Turkish wars. During one of those wars in 1768-1774, the Russian troops led by the general in chief Peter Panin took by storm possession of the Fortress of Bender during the night of September 11th. However, in 1774 they had to leave it in accordance with the peace treaty signed in Kiuchuk-Kainarji. Then the fortress was retaken by the 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 of Ochakov and Akkerman by the 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 belonged to the Turks and Russian troops left the Fortress of Bender.
In 1806, when Napoleon was taking the countries of Europe without any battle, the Russian army corps commanded by the general Meindorf approached to the Fortress of Bender. They provided the serasker (chief) of the fortress, Gassan-pasha with generous gifts and he let them enter the fortress. On December 18th 1806, the sultan declared war with Russia and it lasted until 1812. Then, according to the peace treaty the fortress was transferred to Russia forever and soon entered the newly formed region of the Russian Empire, called Bessarabia.
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 first-class military hospital. In 1833, the Alexander Nevsky church was built in the fortress and up to 1916 it was visited by the Russian emperors: Alexander I, Nikolay I, Alexander II and Nikolay II.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 55thPodolskiy Infantry Regiment has constantly been deployed in the city for about 40 years. This regiment significantly influenced the look and the history of the city.
The fortress was occupied twice by the Romanians. The first time, after the World War I, from 1918 to 1940 and the second one, during the WWII, from 1941 to 1944. Beginning from 1946, the 2ndIndependent 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.