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Fort Tarakaniv in Ukraine

Tarakaniv Fortress is hidden deep in the forest near Dubno in a picturesque area above the Ikva River. The construction took place from 1860 to 1890. In addition to stone and brick, concrete was used for the first time as an advanced building material. The strategic task of the fort on the eastern border of the Russian Empire was to block the Lviv-Brody-Rivne railway, which would serve as the main supply route for the advancing enemy army in the event of a possible war with Austria-Hungary. Designed by the architect Eduard Totleben, it has an area of 4 hectares. Inside there are living barracks, warehouses, household rooms, their own bakery and even a small church. There was also a fully equipped hospital with operating theaters and a morgue in the fort. There was space for 800 soldiers. The fortress is divided into a total of 105 underground vaults (casemates). A ventilation system provided the necessary fresh air, heating was carried out with numerous ovens and the rooms were supplied with running water via an ingenious water system, which could be used via underground wells, among other things. It was a complex military installation with 40 cannons and 10 machine guns. The construction cost 66 million rubles at the time ($ 400 million today). For the time being, however, the fort was not actively used, so that it was used as a warehouse in 1900 and as a prison from 1908. In 1915, the Tarakaniv Fort was abandoned and partially blown up by the Russian troops when they withdrew. Then the Austrian occupation took place. In 1916 the Russians recaptured the fortress, and 200 Austrians died in the process. In 1920, during the Polish-Soviet War, the Red Army was unable to evict the Poles from the fortress. Since then, the fort, which is owned by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, has been falling into disrepair. Today it is a popular lost place, and during my visit a bus with school children even came to see it. But watch out on the tour through the casemates, because there are many open holes in the ground. It is also worth knowing that there are numerous legends and myths about Fort Tarakaniv. The Nazis are said to have worked on secret weapons inside the fort during World War II, the ghosts of Austrian soldiers are said to haunt the corridors and in the 20th century numerous people in the fortress are said to have disappeared without a trace. So never go in there alone.

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