The Natural and History Museum of the City of Bendery
English Русский
Mysteries of the ancient fortress

Mysteries of the ancient fortress

Bendery is one of the oldest towns of Transnistria and Moldova. It is more than 6 centuries old.

Talking about Bendery we can't help remembering about the Bendery fortress. It was the favorite child of Turkish sultan Suleiman the Splendid. This stronghold became a part of the Turkish defensive belt. Its walls have been impregnable for tourists for a long time. The sights of the Bendery fortress could be seen at the Bendery historical and natural museum. Baron Munchausen and composer Giuseppe Sarty, poet Vasilii Zhukovsky and military leader Mikhail Kutuzov: What are they connected by? Each of these historical very important persons could sign at the gate of the fortress.

Riding a cannon-ball

One spring an inhabitant of the country Parkany on the left side of the Dniester against the fortress, found a cannon-ball, digging in his kitchen-garden. Perhaps it belonged to the baron Munchausen. His name is known to become the synonym of the great liar. Meanwhile the history witnesses for him. He was not a fairy-tale, but a real man. The officer of cuirassier regiment Ieronim Karl Frederic von Munchausen served in the Russian army. In April 1738 he arrived on the left bank of the Dniester together with the troops under the Field-Marshal von Minich. The commander had a great desire to conquer the Bendery fortress. He needed scouts. Munchausen was ready to serve. His scouting is described in his world-famous book. Only imagine: the officer flew to the fortress on a cannon-ball. On the one hand his travelling was a myth, on the other hand - the truth. Read the recollections by Munchausen. But the assault had fallen. The Turkish artillery answered by a hurricane of fire and Russian army had to retreat in autumn.

The underground war

In fact: there was an underground war in Bendery! It was a unique case in the history of the Russian military art. It happened that the Russians firstly stormed the stronghold in 1770. General-Anshef Piotr Panin commanded the assault. He wanted fewer victims so Panin chose the method of French engineer Voban. 2,5 thousand navvies worked only at nights. They dug several underground galleries. Grenadiers and cossacks were on the qui-vive. The beleaguered Turks also weren't asleep.

Concealed passions

The Turks moved to meet the Russians underground. Their galleries often crossed. Shots rang out, sabers clanked, wounded soldiers moaned. The Russians planted a mine: 40 thousand poods (1 pood = 16,38 kilograms) of gunpowder. Then the mine was detonated. Grenadiers with ladders rushed forward. Young Mikhail Kutuzov was among them. The stronghold was seized. But this capture of the Bendery fortress wasn't last. It passed from the Turks to the Russians several times.

Ruse of war

General Meiendorf entered the stronghold thanks to his slyness in November 1806. Pasha Hassan handed keys from the fortress gate to the Russian commander without any battle. The ruse of war helped. While the parleys were negotiated in the Russian military camp, numerous Russian soldiers were marching near the General's tent. Grenadiers, musketeers, chasseurs were passing. Old Pasha was shocked. He didn't suspect that the soldiers were few, but they changed their uniforms very quickly. It was the last storm of the Bendery fortress.

Cannons didn't disturb muses

Muses of music and painting paid great attention to Bendery. Prince Grigorii Potemkin organized the magnificent concert near the stronghold walls. Now it would be called "show". While Potemkin was assaulting the fortress, the musicians were rehearsing not far from it. The famous Italian composer and musician Giuseppe Sarty had written the new oratorio especially for this case. He used not only all regiment orchestras, but even bells and cannons. Both soldiers and musicians gained the victory. The fortress was captured, and the celebration was gorgeous. And the brilliant Russian painter Mikhail Ivanov left us his masterpiece "The sight of the Bendery fortress" after wandering in its surroundings.

Love story from Bendery

By the way the muse of belles-lettres also visited the Bendery fortress. Once the landlord Afanasii Bunin let his peasants to go with the troops of General-Field-Marshal Piotr Rumyantsev to Bendery. - Bring me a pretty Turkish woman, - he joked. - My wife grew old. And they did so. Devoted servants brought two swarthy Turkish girls. They were beautiful sisters Salha and Fatima. Their husbands were killed during assaulting of the Bendery fortress. And wives were captured and appeared in the country Mishenskoe of the Tulskaya province. Suddenly Fatima had died. Salha became the nurse of the landlord's daughters. They taught Salha the Russian language. And elderly Bunin fell in love. He was fascinated by 16-year-old girl. She gave birth to his son. After scandals Bunin's wife Maria attached to the child. He was brought up with Bunin's children. The boy was named Vasilii Zhukovsky. He is considered to be "father of Russian romanticism". And mainly he was a mentor of young Pushkin - "the sun of Russian poetry". This poet is also connected with the Bendery fortress. And the old stronghold still keeps many mysteries.

Natalia Barbier.

Fortress view

This is how one of Karl camps looked like on map of that epoch.

From his notes, this way the famous Munchausen tried to get into Bendery fortress.
Sovetskaya str., 40, Bendery, MD3200, Pridnestrovie, Moldova. tel. +373-552-28839, [email protected]
© 2009 The Natural and History Museum of the City of Bendery