Tustan – Medieval Cliff Fortress in Ukraine

In the past, Tustan was an important defensive and customs point of Kyivan Rus and later of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia. Today it is a state history and cultural reserve and a popular travel destination. It is located near the village of Urych, Skoliv district, Lviv region

You can see Tustan on our Carpathian Mountains 1 Day Tour.

Glorious times when the fortress flourished as a customs border center of the Carpathian region, and the days of knightly battles and military exploits are long gone. However, the desolate rocks still retain echoes of those distant events and call on travellers to stop and feel this spirit of powerful nature and heroic epos.

Let’s see legendary Tustan together with Vidviday Tour Operator. Unique nature and the archaeological landmark will tell you about the Medieval past of the ancient impregnable city.

The History of Tustan

In the beginning, there was a sea, endless and changeable. Retreating, the sea uncovered fanciful rocks. During its multimillion-year history, the Urych sandstone massifs which rise almost 80 meters above the valley have witnessed a lot.

Legend has it that the ancient inhabitants of the rock were mythical giants. One of them, due to his connections with evil spirits, turned himself into a rock. Isn’t it his two-meter face, carved at the foot of the Sharp Stone, that mesmerizes tourists and researchers today? Strange shapes of stone giants have led researchers to give some of the cliffs names like Three Fingers, Eagle, Four Giants, etc.

In 3000 BC, the Urych rocks were sheltered by pagan tribes, who performed their rituals here and offered sacrifices to the gods of nature. At that time, magical petroglyphs appeared on the rocks. The solar sign occupied the most important place, thus, our ancestors left us a memory of the times when the sun, water, wind, stones formed the basis of human worldview. The cult of the Sun God is also associated with fallen standing stones, which can still be seen in Tustan today.

Tustan as a Fortress

In the ninth century, the White Croats, an ancient Slavic tribe, came to Tustan and built a wooden fortress here. From that time that the history, Tustan became a western outpost of Kyivan Rus and an important customs point through which the medieval Salt and Silk Roads passed.

The name Tustan also comes from that time, and is interpreted by some researchers as “the city of the brave.” Repeatedly rebuilt, the five-story (!) building was 25 meters high and, according to chroniclers, “was bleached like cheese, and shone in all directions.” The wooden fortress lasted from the 9th to the 13th century. This date is based on the archaeological finds of that period.

Tustan (rekonstrukciya)

Later, when Tustan was governed by the glorious prince Danylo Halytsky, it was fortified with brick defensive walls, becoming an impregnable fortress, which survived many encroachments by the Mongols but was never conquered. After becoming the property of Polish feudal lords, Tustan first appeared in written sources in the middle of the 14th century.

The demise of the city

Over time, the hail-fortress has lost its defensive and commercial significance due to historical changes. It appeared on the map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16th century, then in the 18th century, its name disappears from maps. One can only imagine how the wooden and stone walls collapsed over time, how the wind and rain destroyed the traces of human presence, returning the rocks to their original appearance. The study of Tustan as a historical and archaeological monument began in the 19th century and continues to this day.

Tustan, Urych

At the beginning of the 20th century, patriotic slogans were heard in the rocks – rallies in support of national independence were held here, later the rocks became the location of Ukrainian Insurgent Army camps.

What can you see in Tustan

  • Petroglyphs and ritual altars of pagan times;
  • Remains of a wall, vault, stairs, caves and well;
  • Grooves and stone cuttings on which the wooden structure was based, merging with the rocks in the monumental complex;
  • Tanks-collectors, designed to collect rainwater, which was purified by sand and coniferous branches.
Tustan museum

Interesting facts about Tustan

  • Деякі вчені надають особливого ритуального забарвлення Острому Каменю, де, за припущенням відбувались обряди мольфарів та відьом;
  • В XVI столітті обсяг мита, яке брали з купців в Тустані, складав 14 злотих;
  • Щороку у Тустані відбувається фестиваль української середньовічної культури з реконструкцією героїчних баталій та лицарських турнірів, демонстрацією стародавніх ремесел, виступом фольклорних колективів та дегустацією натуральних страв;
  • Наскельна фортеця була реконструйована, щоправда, поки що віртуально. Проте, монументальні наукові дослідження комплексу дозволяють відтворити стародавній град в реальності, однак, як відомо, лише дослідницького фундаменту для реалізації амбітних культурних планів недостатньо.
  • Some scholars attribute a special ritual meaning to the Sharp Stone, where the rites of magicians and witches are believed to have taken place;
  • In the sixteenth century, the amount of taxes collected from merchants in Tustan was 14 zlotys;
  • Every year Tustan hosts a festival of Ukrainian medieval culture with the reconstruction of heroic battles and knightly tournaments, demonstration of ancient crafts, performances by folk groups and tasting of natural dishes;
  • The rock fortress has been reconstructed, however so far virtually. Scientific research about the complex allows to recreate the ancient city in reality, however, only the knowledge is not enough for such an ambitious project.

Tustan Festival

Tustan festival has been held since 2006, offering visitors an opportunity to travel to the Middle Ages. At the festival, you can hear music that was played hundreds of years ago, take part in knightly battles and storm the fortress, try the local cuisine, and just enjoy the majesty of the Tustan rocks and have fun!

Tustan Festival

How to get to Tustan?

To get by car from Lviv to the village of Urych (Tustan is located nearby) you will need to drive for about 100 km.

The fortress can be reached by bus or train to Urych from Stryj, Skhidnytsia, Truskavets or Skole. In addition, from Lviv, there are tourist buses travelling to Tustan. During the Tustan tour, you will not only see the desired place but also learn a lot of interesting and new things.

Additional information

Location: Lviv Oblast’, Skole raion, Urych

GPS: 49.191932, 23.409359

Official website: http://tustan.ua

Contacts: +38 (067) 671-33-45

Tustan work hours: 10:00-18:00 (April to October), 09:30-17:00 (November to March)

Join us on our exciting tours:

During these tours, you will have a great opportunity to see a unique monument of national importance, learn how Arab silver dirhams appeared in Tustan, what are the origins of the name of Urych and many more interesting facts. You will also take on a role of a medieval traveller following the ancient roads to Europe.

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