What do the walls of the Bender fortress" tell " about? 

There is hardly a Pridnestrovian monument of history, whose legendarium would be richer than the Treasury of stories about Vender Kalesi. And let the last word not confuse fans of "game of thrones". So in Turkish it sounds familiar to us "Bender fortress". With this unique artifact of engineering is associated with many beliefs. Mazepa's Golden carriage, Mohammed's 90-carat diamond, Janissaries ' treasures buried in mysterious underground galleries and guarded by ghosts - such legends are kept by the inhabitants of Bender. It is said that the map of the fortress, stored in the Central Museum of the capital of Turkey, was closed for public access after the restoration work began in 2008.  And while Hollywood screenwriters have not gotten to these stories, of which you can make a good plot for the next series of "Indiana Jones" (say, "Indiana Jones and the diamond Каlesi"), the stones of the fortress keep secret of the history of the castle on the Dniester.

Roxolana's Jealousy.

As you know, the Bender fortress consists of three defensive sectors, which appeared at different periods of time: the eight-tower Citadel of the middle Ages (XVI century), the lower fortress of the end of the XVI century and the Outer Bastion fortress of the first half of the XVII century.

The researchers claim that they were built by the Turks after the conquest of The Moldavian Principality. As an argument, the so  called Suleiman’s Tarikh -a six-line inscription in Farsi (Persian), carved on a marble slab, which was mounted in the wall above the southern gate of the Citadel.

Today was saved  just a single fragment. The surviving lines of the Persian ligature are kept in the Bender historical Museum, and a skilled orientalist can read the following:

"I am the Shah of Baghdad and Iraq, the king of Rome and the Sultan of Egypt // my compassion and generosity, he is a humble slave of the Sultan // When the hooves of my horse raised dust, I won Bogdan".

Other fragments of the marble slab with Tarikh Suleiman's text appear to be lost forever. Like many other inscriptions on the walls of the fortress, which, according to the historian George astvatsaturov, were stolen at different times.

Nevertheless, the full text of the marble slab still managed to restore thanks to the Russian military, who in the XIX century took a copy of it, and at the beginning of the XX century even photographed.

This allowed specialists to decipher the entire inscription, and currently there are at least four translations of Suleiman's Tarikh text into Russian, Romanian, Turkish, German, English and other languages. Here is one of them:

"I am a servant of Allah and Lord of this world Sultan. Allah has made me a faithful leader of the people of Mohammed, I am the favorite of the all – merciful. The wisdom of Allah and the miraculous power of Muhammad are my companions.  I’m Suleiman, in whose name was read " hutba "[prayer to the Emperor] in Holy places.  I am the one who sent ships to the seas European, African and Indian. I am the Shah of Baghdad and Iraq, the king of Rome [Byzantium] and the Sultan of Egypt. The throne and the Golden crown of the Hungarian king I got from my sympathy and generosity, he is a humble slave of the Sultan and the voivode Peter, the rebel,who I drove.  When the hooves of my horse raised dust, I won Bogdan. Hasan Bey, the new Qadi Bender, strengthened the crossing helped the Maritime to the beys..  I am Suleiman, a descendant of the Ottomans, who built a fortress and wrote a chronogram. Year 945."

We are talking about a man whose name is associated with the Golden age of the Ottoman Empire. It was his famous Roksolana, they say, was jealous of the Bender fortress. In this story Suleiman, in addition to his own glorification, tells about the conquest of Bogdan (as the Turks called Moldova) and the expulsion of its ruler Peter. At the same time, even the year 945 is indicated in the Muslim calendar, which counts the time from the migration of the prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina (Hijra). In terms of the present calendar year it turns out 1538.

So, based on tarikhe Suleiman, historians believe that the Bender fortress was built by the Turks no later than 1538. However, in recent years, new facts have emerged that point to the more ancient origins of Bender Kalesi.

King Of Germany.

Last year, Ukrainian researchers Igor Sapozhnikov and Vladimir Levchuk for the first time published the lost information of the Prime Minister-major of the Izyumsky regiment L. P.-B. von Campenhausen, who was in Bendery in 1789 and left detailed notes about them. The officer says that two of the seven gates of the fortress have the inscription "Eastern style". The literal translation of one of them Campenhausen wrote in his notes:

"I, by the grace of the highest, the first in the world of all emperors, the Sultan, born from God and his prophet Muhammad, the interlocutor of the Lord, the conqueror of the world, the Governor of Peter and Bogdan. I am Suleiman, the imprint of the banner of the temple of the only God, I snatched the Tegin fortress and its garrison from the king of Germany. I took it by storm, in the presence of my invincible army.  And I ordered, taking the stones from Palanka castle, to build this wall and gate, and the fortress called Ben-Derim [Ben-Derim]."

According to this report, Tegin fortress existed even before the Turkish conquest, and Suleiman only rebuilt it, adapting it to his own strategic needs. And it is quite curious that he captured it not from the Moldavian ruler (voivode) Peter, but from the "king of Germany". For connoisseurs of history and local historians it seems incredible (after all, where Bender, where's Germany?!). However, there are so many white spots in history that every new piece of knowledge has to be surprised.

In 2010, Odessan historian Andrei Krasnozhon noticed that one of the towers of the Citadel is fundamentally different from the other fortifications.

Octagonal, in terms of it is an order of magnitude higher than the other towers. And judging by the structure of the masonry it was built much earlier than the Citadel itself!  Moreover, at the base of the walls built by the Turks, there are broken slabs with the remains of mysterious bas-reliefs. It seems that more ancient stone artifacts were used by the Ottomans as a building material for their fortifications.

Italians and the Byzantine Emperor.

Indeed, in Moldavian charters of the middle of the XV century alternately mentioned names Thanaka and Tighina. However, in neither case was mentioned about the commandant of this fortress – pircalabu, although such officials appear whenever we are talking about Moldavian strongholds. It seems that the fortress and its garrison were not subordinated to the administration of Moldavian rulers. There is another example in the history of Bogdania: the fortress of Kiliya on the Danube was in the possession of Hungary until Stefan III captured it. So the story of how Suleiman was "snatched fortress Tegin, the king of Germany" is much more interesting and plausible version of that Campenhausen could get lost in translation.

The ambiguity of reports about benders raises a logical question: who, when, and most importantly, why built a castle on the banks of the Dniester? Indirect data contained in historical writings, built the original castle of the Bender fortress to the era of the rule of the Italian Genoese in the black sea. In XIII - XIV centuries they ruled a vast trading stations through which trade was conducted with the dominant in the steppes of the Golden Horde. This theory and today is quite popular, nevertheless direct proofs of the Genoese origin of the Bender lock nevertheless it is not revealed.  There is, however, a version that this stronghold existed long before the advent of the black sea enterprising by Italians.


One Byzantine Emperor, whom schoolchildren know as the godfather of the chronicle Princess Olga of Kiev, left a curious description of the North-Western black sea region of the X century. This is Konstantin the Purple-born , author of the famous work " on the management of the Empire." In his book refers to some "empty fortress", located at the crossing of the Dniester. One of them, Constantine calls Tungate. Because of the harmony with Tegina researchers associate it with the Bender fortress. But this version does not have a strong argument, which could break a fair criticism.  So future generations of historians have yet to get to the answer to the question of when and who built the first castle. To do this, however, will have to do a lot of work to study the Foundation of all fortifications of the fortress.

Mystical symbols, love poems, and a daring kidnapping.

No less interesting is the" language "in which the fortress" talks " with us, overcoming time. It consists of bas-reliefs, graffiti and chronograms, of which there are about sixty. They're allegorical subjects, as, for example, boldly abducted and suddenly returned to the stove. Last year, from the masonry fortification antique hunters dragged the bas-relief, which shows the figure of a horse tied to a tree (similar to cypress). In the same place minarets are drawn and the inscription on Farsi is engraved: "Muhammad carved on a stone, from the heart", with the date of 1206 Ah Or 1791 from the birth of Christ. The plate, however, the "black diggers" took back the plate into place very quickly. "Apparently, something happened," - they say.

Found among the graffiti and the real cryptograms. One of them is made in the form of a wall pendulum clock, the arrow of which points to 8. Odessan researcher Andrei Krasnozhon believes that they encrypted engineering calculations that were made during the modernization of the Bastion fortress by European engineers commissioned by the Turkish government in the late XVIII century.

The walls of the stronghold carefully store and love lyrics. Traveler Evliya Celebi in the XVII century quoted sensual lines of Eastern poetry, skillfully carved on the stove in the masonry of the southern gate of the Citadel: "Ah! My soul, Rukiya Khanum..!  ...Loving her Majar Mustafa." Today, almost four centuries later, only a few words remain from these notes of the soul melody.

But the six-petalled symbols and hexagram, inscribed on the St. George gate of the Bender fortress, continue to excite the minds of researchers.  In the system of fortifications, those gates had been internal, with unnatural fortifications front. On their pediment in stone carved mystical decoration-a six-pointed star between two polygons, on the sides of which are inscribed rosettes.

While experts are far from an objective interpretation of this symbolic composition. We can only say that both the hexagram and rosettes are found in the art of many cultures and traditions. It is believed that these signs are associated with the symbols of the transition and Borderlands. As a rule, they are found on the facades of religious buildings and tombstones, being a kind of marker of separation of the two spaces.

 So, Bender fortress is full of mysteries and surprises. For a long time it remained a closed strategic object of several States – Turkey, Russia, and then Transnistria. Today it is a historical complex on the territory of which there is a large-scale reconstruction. The fortress is open to foreign tourists and residents of the Republic, and its research potential is truly enormous, say local historians. At first glance, it is a familiar element of the urban landscape of Bender. But once within the walls, it is impossible to get rid of the feeling that before you Terra Incognita.

Akexandr Korezky

Tiras Incognitus
The opinion of the author of the article may not coincide with the opinion of the site administration.


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