Architectural complex of the Sudak fortess

Architectural complex of the Sudak fortess

Sudak fortess The structure of the defense complex of the Sudak fortress emerged on before the early medieval period and was later broadly restored by Genoese. It consisted of two lines of defense. The strategic core of the defense system of the city was a port part and tops of the Fortess Mountain and of the Plvani-oba. It was protected by a defensive wall that stretched along the rocky ridges of two mountains and reliably defended the only easy passage between them. Because of the peculiarities of the relief the defense system of the port was the least vulnerable border. In case of break of outer line of defense, which covered the Fortess Mountain, there was a possibility of further resistance, and also the evacuation of the city’s defenders on the ships that were in the harbor. Conditionally, this line of defense can be divided into two parts: citadel on top of the Fortess Mountain and the port defensive line.

The citadel of Soldaya has been located along the ridge of the Fortess Mountain and was extended through the east-west axis. It consisted of a line of fortess walls with three towers and four curtains and a complex of consular castle and Watch tower atop of the Fortess Mountain. Fighting side of the defense system of Soldaya’s citadel was on the north side. On the southeast citadel has been protected by impregnable slopes and was not strengthened. The total length of the line of citadel’s fortess walls was about 580 m. Battle way was wooden and relied on beams that were horizontally embedded in the thick walls.

From the east to the defensive line of the citadel adjoins a complex of the Consular castle, which has been a closed knot of defense. The castle consisted of a tower-donjon, small angular tower, oriented toward the city. Donjon and tower have been connected with curtains that form a small well protected courtyard. South Curtain has a tower projection towards the sea. In place of integration of the northern curtain to donjon the entrance has been located, additionally secure by rectangular fortification.

Area built up with residential buildings within the citadel was minimal and was about 0.21 ha in the area between the consular castle and “St. George’s” tower. Along the rest of the entire line of the fortess walls there was only a narrow path with steps carved in the rock. The citadel has had a great strategic importance to concentrate on its area the defenders of the city in case of break of the outside line of defense. From the citadel there were two convenient escape routes to the coast: one from the consular castle, another through the top of the mountain in the port part of the town.

Sudak fortess The port’s defensive line has blocked the access to port’s part (the area not less than 7 hectares), located on the southern slopes of the mountains – the Fortress and the Plvani-oba. It was held in the narrowest part of the gorge between the slopes of the mountains. In the east it apperently faced the citadel’s fortess walls and outer line of defense.

A connecting link was a Nameless tower no. 20. The port’s defensive line consisted of a minimum of three towers, three curtains and one gate. The length of this line of walls was 254.5 m. Nowadays the line of the port’s defensive walls practically can not be observed.

The outer line of defense encompassed much of northern gentle slope of the Fortress Mountain. It consisted of fourteen towers and fourteen curtains and also a Barbican, which defended the only common gate. To the east, it faced the impregnable rock near the consular castle. From the west it faced the citadel’s line of defense and fortress walls of the port part of the city. The fortess’ serf ground has almost a triangular shape, with its northern corner located near the city gates. Thus, the outer defense line consisted of two approximately equal length sections: eastern (458.5 m) and western (466.5 m). The area of urban territory, protected by this line of defense, was about 14 hectares and strengthened the city from the field side. In the lower part of the walls in regular order there were placed narrow vertical slits.

Most of the towers of the outer line of defense were three-wall and had four storeys. The lower floor of the towers has been used as a storehouse for ammunition or as a guard room. From the side of the city to the level of the second storey they were covered with stone walls. During the archaeological research there were opened bases of these walls, as well as stoves and fireplaces for heating. In walls of the second storey there’re narrow vertical embrasures. In the third storey walls there are wide rectangular windows. The fourth storey there’s the top battle ground under the protection of a number of merlons. All fortifications have been built by the best fortification principles that existed in Europe of 14th century, and had much in common with similar structures of Genoa.

In the present relief and on the plans of the fortress of the late 18th century (plan of the year 1775) it is traced the line of the fortress’ rampart (length 860 m). The rampart with its shape repeats the line of fortess walls of the outside line. Nowadays there’re preserved fragments of the rampart on the eastern section. At various times there were held numerous sensings in front of the rampart. It was ascertained that from the outside it raised above the surrounding terrain at least for 6 m. The shaft’s profile is triangular. Its width is now 9-10 m. Infront of the rampart in the second half of 18th century flowed streams that flooded a place in front of it. Taking into consideration this fact, it can be affirmed that the rampart was probably reinforced on top with wooden palisade, was a serious obstacle for the enemies. The construction of the shaft should be refered to the first few years of the Genoese presence in Soldaya.

In the structure of the Sudak Fortress defensive systems of the citadel have played a particularly important role, the former convent near the eastern wall, a powerful unit of the Main Gate and the system of port fortifications.

Structuraly, the defense system of Genoa’s Soldaya has not been formed immediately. Construction of major buildings was made since 1365 to at least 1414. Further there were repairings and reconstructions of only individual nodes of defense that did not change the appearance of the defensive line.