UKRDOUG Castle Tours - Tarakaniv Fortress
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Note: The cache is not at the coordinates. The coordinates bring you to the main entrance tunnel in which the cache presides. The directions to the cache are found within the description below.
Along the highway between Rivne and Lviv, near the town of Dubno, is a small hill that one may not notice except for some reason the forest has not been cut down. At the crest of the hill overlooking the village of Tarakaniv is a 19th century underground fortress. Even at 20 meters one would never know that there is a four hectare square military compound that once housed 650 Russian soldiers protecting Mother Russia from a feared invasion by the Austrian and German armies. Only within the last few years has this facility become declassified which explains why it does not yet exist in any tour books.
The fortress descends six stories underground. Only the top two stories can be explored – the lower depths sealed off from the public because the traps set by those who deserted long ago are still waiting for those who might dare to enter. Not even Indiana Jones would dare attempt.
The fortress was built between 1870-1890 by the Imperial Russian government. The fort itself is a square with each side 230 meters in length. The top of the hill was dug out so that the two-stories of the officer's palace that is above the surface, is still below the crest and cannot be seen. A 14-meter thick ditch separates the slope of the hill from the fortress walls. The slopes of the hill contained machine gun and artillery defenses.
Tunnels sealed by metal doors as thick as train rails led from the ditch up to central fort. Rooms concealed within the tunnels held soldiers manning machine guns aimed at any who might make it past the doors. The main tunnel also contained large rooms that served as a laboratory and horse stables. Once a person emerged from the tunnels, he would face a fortress with guarded bunkers. The fortress contained a field hospital, church, bakery, workshop, telegraph and electric stations, several wells with elevated storage tanks, and a canteen.
Unfortunately the fort never served any useful purpose, even during the two World Wars, since it was placed in the wrong location. Only one battle was ever fought here and the fort was abandoned in 1915. Its uncommon architecture, powerful beauty, and a multitude of enigmas marvel the few who have dared to explore its hidden secrets.
This tour of the fortress begins at the main tunnel entrance at the GC coordinates. You may want to leave the fortress here and verify that from the top the fortress is "invisible" from a mere 20 meters away. Entering the tunnel you will first come to the place where a very thick metal door once guarded the fortress. As you continue you will see rifle slits used by gunners if the metal door was breached. The first doorways on both sides of the tunnel lead up to where these gunners were positioned. The next doorway on the left leads into an extensive laboratory. On the right across from the laboratory is a small room that leads up and down to even smaller rooms. The third doorways on both sides lead to stables. The cache is hidden in the stable to the left. Look for a blocked-up archway. In the arch is a loose piece of wood covering a hole. The cache is in that hole behind the wood. Please take the time to replace the cache in this same manner, even if you did not find it in this way, so that others might enjoy the cache.
Continuing through the tunnel leads to two ramparts that lead outside the fort. These allowed defending soldiers access outside to defend the fort and man the cannons. The final stairs lead to upper stories of the fort that have almost all collapsed. I suggest you climb up the right stairs for a scenic view of the officer's palace. Walk across and head down the other stairs and finally emerge from the tunnel to the ground floor of the fort. Only this level and the one above may be explored because the lower levels, now sealed shut (entrance to lower levels was accessed from Room 44 in the bunkers), are still set with defensive traps and bombs. Take some time to explore the palace before heading into the underground bunkers.
Go to the bunker coordinates to enter the underground fortress. You will notice that both entrances of this bunker (and the other entrances near the hospital) were guarded by riflemen. Enter the bunkers and immediately to the right are rooms that eventually lead to the tunnel exit (no longer passable) to where you parked your car. Enjoy exploring the rooms where the soldiers slept and note the intact support beams holding up the fort. Room 38 is of special interest. In the back of the room are stairs that lead down to a wet hallway which leads to a large cistern. This was probably an escape tunnel from the fortress that led outside near Dubno. This theory is supported by evidence that another thick metal door was placed here like found in the other tunnel entrances.
Heading back outside, be sure to visit the church and hospital. You will notice the support beams in the back are collapsing. An exit out the back of the hospital then leads back into the bunkers (but I could not find these on my return trip without a tour guide). Back in there I found some bats sleeping.
(No hints available.)
- 01 - The "invisible" fortressCan you see the fortress? It is only 20 meters away. Enemy scouts would easily ride past without discovering this defense.
- 02 - View from parking coordinatesThis will be your first view of the fortress as you park your car. Walk to the far end of this ditch (ignore the tunnel entrance on the right) and turn right and head to the next corner where the main tunnel entrance is located.
- 03 - Main Tunnel EntranceThe cache coordinates bring you here. The cache is within the tunnel.
- 04 - Inside Main Tunnel EntranceYou can see the railroad-tie thick holes where the metal door was placed. After the door you can see the slit in the walls where gunners above would defend against intruders.
- 05 - Gunners PositionThe first doors on both side of the tunnel lead up to rooms where the defending gunners were placed.
- 06 - Main Tunnel StableThis is the stable where the cache is hidden (the arch is not seen in this picture but would be on the left). A similar stable is across the tunnel where you can still see the rings where the horses were tied.
- 07 - Officers' PalaceIf you took the last stairs on the left up you would emerge for this view of the Officers' Palace.
- 08 - Bunker EntranceThe coordinates for one of the bunker entrances brings you here. Notice the slits facing both entrances to the bunker. Gunners were placed inside to shoot any intruders.
- 09 - Intact Support BeamThese support beams are found throughout the underground fortress. You will notice at the back of the hospital that these beams are breaking.
- 10 - Sleeping BatsKeep your eyes open for sleeping bats beneath.
- 11 - View of Fort 100 Years Ago
- 12 - View of same location today
- 13 - Fortress ChurchNotice the indentation at the top where the Orthodox cross was once placed.
- 14 - The Cache (photo hint)You are searching for this type of cache.
- 15 - Spoiler OneThe cache in its hiding place.
- 16 - Spoiler TwoThe cache concealed
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum