Tarakaniv Fort, or Tarakanivsky Fort, also known as the Dubno Fort or New Dubno Fortress, is an architectural monument of the 19th century, located near the village of Tarakaniv in Dubno Raion (district) of Rivne Oblast (region), in a picturesque area above the Ikva River. It is right next to the highway Lviv-Kyiv.
Now it stands in ruins, but even in such a sad condition the fortress gathers numerous tourists. Many legends and mystical stories are associated with this place in Western Ukraine. Locals call Tarakaniv Fort the City of Ghosts. Many believe that the place is haunted by the ghosts of many soldiers who died in the fort during long and gruesome years of war. Locals say that even time goes slowly there; it feels like the place lives in another dimension. Another legend tells the creepy story about Nazi laboratory which was located in Tarakaniv Fort during WW2 and German occupation of Western Ukraine and conducted various experiments on prisoners of war to produce soldiers with super powers. The legend doesn’t tell if the nazi scientists have succeeded, it is only believed that before Germans retreated from the fort, they poured great amounts of concrete to fill the premises of the laboratory and hide everything what was going on there.
A few words about the history of the Fort. After third division of Poland at the end of the 18th century, the border between the Russian and Austrian empires passed along the line Zbarazh-Brody-Berestechko-Sokal. In order to defend its western borders, the tsarist government decided to build a system of defensive fortifications. Then, aiming to protect the Lviv-Kyiv railway line, the authorities built the Dubno Fortress near the town of Dubno, which became better known today as the Tarakaniv Fort.
Works on building a hill for the New Dubno Fortress began in the 1860s. The main ideologue of the construction of a number of fortified areas was the hero of the defense of Sevastopol, a Baltic German military engineer and Imperial Russian Army adjutant general Franz Eduard Graf von Tottleben better known as Eduard Totleben. In 1873, 66 million rubles were allocated for the construction of the Fort. In the 1870's and 1880's, the Fort was built quite intensively. In addition to stone and brick, they used newest construction material at that time - concrete. Finally, in 1890, the Fort was inspected by members of the royal family, which testified to the readiness of the object.
In 1912, a military engineer. M. Karbishev visited the Fort as part of the military engineering inspection of the troops of the southwestern military district.
The first tests for the Fort took place during the First World War. At the beginning of the war in 1915, parts of the southwestern Russian front withdrew from the Fort without a fight. The destruction of the fortifications began in the summer of 1916, when during the Brusilov Offensive also known as the ""June Advance"", the Russian drove units of the 4th Austrian Army out of these fortifications. In these battles, 200 Austrian soldiers were killed and buried near the Fort.
In 1920, Budyonny's troops were unable to drive the Poles out of the Fort.
During World War II, there were no battles for the Fort.
In 1965, the Ministry of Trade of the Ukrainian SSR made an attempt to equip a warehouse for canned goods on the basis of the Fort. The authorities conducted the works on clearing of casemates, made racks and doors, ensured lighting, but excessive humidity and evaporation did not allow to store products here. The headquarters of the Prykarpattia Military District also tried to equip the site as a warehouse for tractor spare parts.They carried out time-consuming preparatory work, but the idea was abandoned for the same reason.
The Fort has a diamond shape with sides up to 240 meters. From the outside it was surrounded by a deep moat with earthen ramparts fortified by strong walls. In the central part of the Fort there were two-storey barracks, which lead to four underground passages, laid under the second earthen rampart. There were residential, warehouse and utility rooms for the artillery company and the headquarters of the commander of the Fort. The perimeter of the fort was composed of 105 so-called safe casemates and in order to get to them one had to overcome a double line of defensive lines.
The fort had a large garrison (the casemates of the fort could accommodate 800 people) and was well armed (equipped with long-range guns of large caliber).
As it wa noted before, the fort is located not far from the village of Tarakaniv, near the Kyiv-Chop highway.