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    The Soroca Fortress was built by Stephen the Great in the last quarter of the 15th century. According to local tradition, its name comes from the fact that the ruler set a “deadline” (the term “sorok” meaning forty days) for the construction of the fortress. The Soroca Fortress was constructed as a defensive stronghold against the predatory Tatar hordes that invaded Moldova through the Dniester crossings. Soroca was not a large fortress with two rows of walls like Suceava, Cetatea Albă, or Hotin, but rather a small fortification, a castle to shelter guards against the Tatars.

    The Soroca Fortress is a unique monument of medieval Moldovan defensive architecture. The stone fortress that we see today was built by a group of masons from Transylvania under the leadership of Master Iacob, who left an inscription inside the fortress: “This castle was built by Iacob.” Before the stone fortress was erected, there was a wooden and earthen fortification mentioned only in 1499, although it is believed to have been built earlier. Archaeological excavations in the fortress have uncovered remnants of wooden fortifications.

    The fortress has a circular shape with an inner courtyard diameter of 30.5 meters. The fortress has five towers—four round and one square above the entrance—spaced equally apart. The fortress walls are 3.05 meters thick, 21 meters high, with openings at ground level and dug into the plateau to a depth of another 7 meters, reaching the layer of solid rock. At the top of the fortress, dominated by towers rising 4 meters above the walls, are embrasures. The inner walls of the fortress are lined with three rows of wooden galleries supported by cantilever beams, intended for the fortress defenders. The entrance to the fortress through the arch of the square tower facing the Dniester was closed by two massive gates preceded by a portcullis. Beneath the entrance in the basement were two “traps.” Above the entrance was the fortress chapel, with access to the first gallery. The chapel had a portal in the shape of a pointed arch with Moldavian Gothic-style ornamentation. The tower rooms could be accessed from the wooden galleries connected by external staircases. On the patrol path at the battlements, partially in their thickness, defensive weapons were stored. A well was dug in the center of the fortress.

    The size and shape of the Soroca Fortress are crucial for understanding its origin and place in the medieval Moldovan defense system. This fortress is a contemporary of the best achievements of the Italian Renaissance, and it resembles many fortresses in northern Italy (the resemblance to Caprarola Castle is particularly notable), but it has enough unique elements to distinguish it. The small size of the fortress, with an inner diameter equal to 100 steps, allows the Soroca Fortress to be classified among the remarkable achievements of European architecture, being a testament to the craftsmanship of its builders.

    At the end of the 17th century, during the presence of a garrison of 2000 Polish soldiers, several changes were made. Thirteen additional rooms for storing gunpowder were attached to the walls, with living quarters above them. The intervals between the battlements were closed, leaving only openings for light firearms. Barracks were built outside the fortress for the Polish soldiers, and the entire area was surrounded by an earthen rampart and a ditch.