Kamianets-Podilskyi (Polish: Kamieniec Podolski), the heart of Podolia, is a city with a population of more than 100,000 located in the Khmelnytskyi Oblast in the Ukraine. Built on a rocky plateau formed by the Smotrych River it is called the “Pear on the Stone” or “Tower Built by God” because of its majestic landscape and strategic location. The tip marking the space of the Old Town was expanded with new districts: the Polish and Russian Homesteads and the19th century New Plan.
In the early ages of its existence Kamianets belonged to Ruthenian princes, Tatars, Lithuanians, and then Poles. In the heyday of the capital of the Podolia Voivodship which was part of the Polish Crown the city was inhabited by three nationalities: Ruthenians, Armenians and Poles. Each of them had a separate town hall with its own court and trading centre in its district. The Polish period was marked by the development of sacral buildings. Because of its location Kamianets was called the bulwark of Christendom. The “Eagle’s Nest” guarding the eastern frontiers of the Commonwealth was the area of permanent invasions, especially in the restless 16th and 17th century. The Polish myth of an unconquerable fortress was dispelled as late as 1672 together with the capture of the “Gateway to Poland” by the Turkish troops. The myth, however, was recorded in the Fire in the Steppe (Pan Wołodyjowski) by Henryk Sienkiewicz. After a short period of the rule of the Ottoman Empire Kamianets has never regained its former glory. Following the partition of Poland in 1793 Kamianets became part of the Russian Empire and the capital of the new Podolia Governorate. In the 19th century the Polish population in the town fell victim to extensive repressive measures: teaching in Polish was banned, Roman-Catholic orders and convents were closed down, and the diocese was removed. After the Polish-Bolshevik War Kamianets found itself outside the borders of the Second Polish Republic, which resulted in new persecutions of the Polish minority, including its deportations. In 1930, Polish peasants near Kamianets started an uprising against forced collectivization. Since 1991 Kamianets has been part of independent Ukraine. Today, the Poles account for some 10 percent of its population.