In 90 km of Odessa and 18km from the Black Sea you can find a city which is more then 2500 years old. It is Belgorod-Dnestrovskiy (The old name is Akkerman or Ackerman).
In 600 BC this was the site of the Greek colony of Tyras. By the 4th century BC it was a prosperous trading center, which even minted its own coinage. The Getae sacked it in the mid-1st century BC, but it revived. By the early 2nd century AD it was an important outpost on the frontier of the Roman Empire. In the late 3rd century the Goths destroyed it. The site was repopulated much later by the Tivertsians and Ulychians and named Belgorod. In 1433-1454 the fortifications were renovated by the Turks, the round towers were connected with high ramparts to form enclosed citadel with inner courtyards and the fortress got the name of Akkerman. After 1812 the fortress continued to be one of the strongholds of the south frontier defense system of the Russian Empire at least 20 years onwards.
The main attraction of Belgorod-Dnestroskiy is Akkerman fortress. Akkerman fortress is the largest monument of Islamic architecture in the north-western part of the Pontic area, preserved till now in its most complete condition. The fortress is located on the cape which is on the right border of the Dniester estuary, 18 km from the Black Sea. It is now the centre of the modern town of Belgorod-Dnestrovskiy.
Since the end of the 15th century up to the end of the 18th century it was a military and trade-outpost of the Ottoman Empire in this region. Ottoman Akkerman follows ancient traditions as a dominant place in the whole Pontic area. Cultural contacts between Europe and Asia were established through nomads and settlement of various peoples followed. The origin of the foundation of the fortress is unknown and some parts of the first fortification can still be found. The fortress consists of four parts. The square of the fortress is 9 hectares and the length of the outer walls is 2 km, with 26 towers.
The archaeological investigation of the fortress began at the beginning of the 20th century, but monuments of the Ottoman period were not under special consideration then. Turkish and Ukrainian expeditions were excavating the Ottoman monuments in the fortress. Fortifications and weapons, found in the fortress, reflect the military aspect of the fortress. Numerous artifacts that have been found point still to another side: economy, culture, and art. The scientific results of our investigations show the necessity of further complex research into the history and the culture of the Ottoman Empire and medieval Ukraine.
Nowadays the main fortress gates are hospitably opened for tourists who come to Akkerman from the world over.
The territory of Akkerman fortress is divided into several yards: the Southern yard where during enemy raids the city’s population hid themselves, the Northern or Garrison’s and the least preserved Economic yard where a minaret remains from the Turk construction. Next to it is the basement of a Christian temple from the 12-13th ?
The most “photogenic” part of the complex is the Stronghold. This is impenetrable fortress within the fortress was built by the Genoese trades people. Their commandant lived there; the military staffs and the Turkish vicegerents’ harems were to be found here. During the time when Akkerman belonged to the Turks (1484-1812) the Cossacks from Zaporozhye campaigned many times on their renowned boats called “gulls” to the outpost walls. They say that stronghold still hides ottoman treasures.
Akkerman was visited by the “father of history” Herodotus, the ancient princes of Kiev Kiy, Igor and Oleg, the poets Pushkin and Adam Mickiewicz. And in 1896 the fortress was named a historical-architectural monument.
Some of the more ancient buildings are still standing in Belgorod-Dnestrovskiy town. There are the Armenian Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary( 15-19 century), the underground church of Saint John of Sochava (14-19 century). If you visit history museum of this city you will find ot more about traditions and history of this city.