Tyras - Bilhorod (Akkerman), on the way from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea
Permanent Delegation of Ukraine to UNESCO
Odesa region, Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi district, town of Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky, Ushakova street
The Tentative Lists of States Parties are published by the World Heritage Centre at its website and/or in working documents in order to ensure transparency, access to information and to facilitate harmonization of Tentative Lists at regional and thematic levels.
The sole responsibility for the content of each Tentative List lies with the State Party concerned. The publication of the Tentative Lists does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the World Heritage Committee or of the World Heritage Centre or of the Secretariat of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.
Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party
The remains of the ancient city of Tyras lie on the high cape of the West Coast of the Dniester Liman (within the modern town of Bilhorod-Dnistrovsyi). In the Middle Ages, a new settlement was founded there, and it had different names (Turrys, Bilhorod, Ak-Liba, Akca-Kermen, Moncastro, Akkerman). Tyras was established in the late 6th century BC, and became a major trade port of the Ancient World. The development of Tyras was quite fast due to economic contacts, primarily with the Getae population and nomadic peoples of the Dniester region, as well as the intermediary trade with the Ancient World. The trade was organized by the marine routes along the coastline and by the river Tyras (nowadays called the Dniester). The trade route along this river can be traced back to the Stone Age. The town became an important international port, connecting the Eastern Europe with the Mediterranean. The ancient port was located on the riverbank within the boundaries of the town of Tyras. By the third quarter of the 5th century BC, Tyras becomes the most significant centre of the region. In the second half of the 4th century BC, Tyras begins minting polis coins in order to support the development of trade. The period between the end of the 5th and the first half of the 3rd century BC was the time of growth of Tyras. The city had a developed defense system, stone housing construction, stone-paved streets with a drainage system. According to the sources, the city had temples, an agora, where popular assemblies were held. The port was visited by ships from various ancient cities (Athens, Rhodes, Thasos, Pergamum, Alexandria of Egypt, Sinop, Herakleia, Panticapaeum, Olbia, Chersonesos, Bosphorus and others), bringing wine and olive oil, ceremonial tableware, terracotta, jewellery, metals, glass products, etc., taking away, in exchange, the products of cattle breeding, Getae horses, slaves, salted fish, grain, honey. The products of local craftsmen together with the goods obtained from other antique centers were shipped both to the steppe nomads, and in the northern direction along the river to the agricultural tribes of the Dniester region.
New rise of Tyras was associated with the Roman Empire. During the reign of the Emperor Claudius, Rome was providing Tyras with the economic assistance. Under the Emperor Nero, in 56-57 AD, a special law which regulated the relationship between Rome and Tyras was passed. Tyras experienced an economic upturn, which was caused by the increase, of the trade operations between the population of Transnistria and the entire Dnipro-Danube interfluve and the ancient world. The Dniester, the main trade route for Tyras, crosses the entire territory of modern Ukraine, with its origins in the Carpathian Mountains. This is where the Sian River originates, the influx of another important waterway - the Vistula, which flows into the Baltic Sea. This is how a single trading route connects the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.
Since the ancient times, the Amber Road was known as one of the main European trade routes. The amber was transported from the Baltic coast to various areas of Europe and Asia, making the Dniester one of the segments of this trade route. This precious stone became of the most lucrative items of trade during the rule of Roman Empire.
Thus, Tyras was located on the crossroads of the marine and river routes stretching from the West to the East along the Black Sea coastline all the way through to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the South to the North along the Dniester River. That was the time, when the major transnational trade routes were established.
In the beginning of the 3rd century AD, Tyras maintains its status of a significant marine and river port. On the shipyards deployed in the delta of the Dniester, the ships, which were used by the Goths during a sea campaign against Rome in 269-270 AD, were built. The history of Tyras bears a significant body of evidence for the research of relations between the ancient civilization and the barbaric peoples of the Eastern Europe. In addition to the fortification constructions, the remains of Ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine buildings can be found in Tyras.
The history of the early medieval settlement on the territory of Tyras is uncertain. However, written sources ("History of the Justinian Wars with the Persians, the Vandals and the Goths", by the 6th century historian Procopius of Caesarea; "On the Management of the Empire", by the 9th century historian the Emperor Constantine VII Purple-born; the travel notes of Al-Idrisi, made in the 12th century) provide evidence of the continuation of life in the area of Tyras. The ancient Kyivan Rus chronicles mention the presence in the region of the Slavic tribes of the Ulichs and the Tiverts. In 967 the region of the Lower Dniester passed under the power of Kyiv Prince, later, in the second half of the 12th century it was under the authority of the Galician Princes. The latter controlled the trade route "From the Varangians to the Greeks" passing along the Dniester. The city, then known as “Bilhorod” was a significant link on this route. Raw iron, weapons, ambergris, walrus bone, whale skin products were brought from Scandinavia. Wine, spices, jewellery, glassware and silk were imported from the Byzantine Empire. Kyivan Rus supplied furs, linen, wood, honey, wax, weapons, leather, resin, bread, various handicrafts, and slaves.
The Great Salt Road also played a significant role in those times, stretching along the Dniester River, from the salt mines in the Carpathian region, and passing by Bilhorod to other lands. Another major trade route was the Great Silk Road, tracing back way before the 1st century AD. Being invented in China, silk became a major export. The Eastern nations also supplied porcelain, tea, lacquerware, precious stones, slaves, cotton, leathers and carpets. The Great Silk Road had three main routes. The Northern route passed through the Black Sea coastline, including the port of Bilhorod. Furs, weapons, amber, honey and wax were delivered from the Northern territories to the Byzantine Empire, China, and the countries of Arabia and Middle Asia. The port of Bilhorod was an important link of this trade route, especially in the times of the Golden Horde.
The Golden Horde period was very important in the history of Bilhorod (Turkish name - Akca Kerman, Greek name - Asprocastro, in the European sources mentioned as Maocastro, Mavrocastro, Moncastro). The town was inhabited by several ethnic groups, e.g. the "Life of John The New" (middle of the 14th century) and some Genoese sources mention Italians, Jews, "Tatars", "Saracen", "Mongols", the Orthodox community (Greeks, Bulgarians, Ruthenians). In the 13th - 14th centuries Bilhorod was a craft center, exporting local products to various regions. Thus, in the "Codex Latinus Parisinus" (1396), Moncastro is depicted as a four-tower citadel. This fortress was designed primarily to protect the port. Bilhorod had become one of the largest transit centers for the sale of grain to Europe. The Crimean Khans and Italians had great cooperation between the second part of the 13th century and the early 14th century. Bilhorod becomes one of the most significant ports of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea coasts, visited by the merchants from Italy, Spain, Byzantine Empire, and the Northern Europe.
At the end of the 14th century Bilhorod (Asprocastro) became a part of the Moldavian principality. The construction of a big fortress begins on the remains of Tyras. The earliest description of Bilhorod was made in 1421 by the French ambassador Gilbert de Lanois, who has written: “Here I came to the city on the Black Sea coastline, which is called Moncastro or Bilhorod, on the edge of the river, where Genoese, Walachian and Armenian people live”.
As part of Moldova, the town was a privileged autonomous community, which had the right to mint its own coins. A well-thought network of fortifications provided cover to the main roads leading to the inner country. In the 14th century the term "Moldovan Route" appears, a road leading from Lviv to Bilhorod. The significance of this marine and river port is justified not only by the numerous trade items from various countries like China or Spain, but also the coins from the Eastern part of the Golden Horde, Arabic countries, Byzantine Empire, Moldova, Wallachia, Hungary, Lithuania and Poland. Bilhorod became a part of a defensive system between the Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea, together with the towns of Archae and Khotyn. This defensive system also was meant to protect the trade route between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea.
In the Turkish period (from 1484), the city became an important outpost of the Ottoman Empire and acquired further development as a center of commerce. Ottoman Sultans wanted to capture the trade ports on the coasts of the Danube and the Dniester, primarily Bilhorod and Kilia. These two ports were called the “Keys to the gate to Poland, Russia, Tartaria and the whole Black Sea”. In 1632, the Italian monk Niccolo Barsi wrote that the city was fortified with ramparts and walls, and the fortress. According to the chronology of construction, the fortress itself consists of three different parts. The southwest tower of the citadel, Donjon, was built first. Then, three more towers were built in order to make the citadel, most likely by the Genovese. Finally, the Outer Ring of walls with thirty towers was constructed. Thus, the fortress consisted of several parts - the Citadel, Southern, intended for the civilian population; Northern part, where the military garrison and the Western part, which provided the port's activities. From outside the fortress was protected with a deep trench. To the Southern part of the fortress there were two gates in the East and West; the gates were joined by the Southern and Northern parts, another gate led from the northern part to the citadel. In the second half of the 18th century, the Turks began to reconstruct the fortress and the approaches to it, but the fortress was seized by the troops of the Russian Empire in 1806, and since 1812, after the region came under the authority of the latter, ceased to function as a military object.
The Bilhorod Fortress is the unique outstanding work of fortification architecture of 14th – 17th centuries in the South-Eastern Europe. The fortress is the largest in size and best preserved monument of the engineering art and defense architecture of Ukraine. In the complex of the Bilhorod Fortress several main construction periods associated with the development of the European fortification and engineering thought can be traced.
The fortress is the largest in area (9 hectares) and the best preserved monument of the engineering art and defense architecture of Ukraine. In the complex of the Bilhorod Fortress, several major construction periods are traced, which were associated with the development of the European fortification and engineering. In general, it represents a complex protective system of fortification, both of stone and earth, built to protect the port and the Dniester river deltas, which were part of the cross-border trade route from the Mediterranean and the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea.
One of the main peculiarities of the property “Tyras-Bilhorod (Akkerman) – on the way from the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea” is the fact of being an open fortified city, which has been ruined from the ancient times till the 18th century, and was renovated numerous times. For twenty five centuries, it has been the main port which connected the Baltic Sea with the Mediterranean Sea.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
“Tyras - Bilhorod (Akkerman), on the way from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea” is a unique complex of monuments, which combines the remains of the ancient city with the outstanding medieval fortifications. The site, strategically located in the south of Ukraine, at the mouth of the Dniester River, on the way from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean, via the Black Sea, has been playing a significant role in the political and cultural life of several civilizations as an international “river-to-sea” port for thousands of years, being associated with the most important historical events of the South-Eastern Europe.
The site is a multi-layered complex of monuments, formed as a result of the development of a number of civilizations in the unique landscape of Transnistria. The location of Tуras in the steppe area, at the mouth of the Dniester river, made it an attractive place for settlement of carriers of different languages and cultural traditions: Greek, East Slavic, Italian, Ruthenian, Moldovan, Armenian, Turkish. In particular, Tyras was a zone of contact between the Antique civilization and the barbaric world of South-Eastern Europe, played a decisive role in the Hellenization of the nomadic and agricultural peoples of the entire region, and is the unique sample of the antique town on the territory of which, in the medieval period, a complex of fortifications was built. In addition, the Bilhorod Fortress is an outstanding example of the European engineering knowledge and fortification art in the 14th-18th centuries, being perfectly adjusted to the surrounding landscape. At the same time, Bilhorod is a great example of a well-preserved fortress that protected the port and controlled the trade route from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea.
The outstanding universal value of the object lies in a inimitable combination of the remnants of the ancient town, more than 25 hundred years old, with a masterpiece of the European fortification art, formed against the background of the unique landscape, on the trade route which connected the Southern and the Northern parts of Europe.
Criterion (ii): The territory, located in the eastern part of the modern town of Bilhorod Dnistrovskyi (Odesa region, Ukraine), was used by the ancient peoples to settle from the late Paleolithic. The antique polis of Tyras, first as the ancient Greek colony, later as the eastern outpost of the Roman Empire, was the place of contacts between the antique civilizations of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region with the barbaric world of the South- Eastern Europe. The city was a significant ancient “river-to-sea” port that was at the intersection of the sea and river routes, which stretched from the West to the East along the Black Sea coast, then to the Mediterranean Sea, as well as from the South to the North along the Dniester river. That was the time when the main transnational trade routes were formed. Located at the intersection of ancient trade routes, the city experienced constant impact of various cultures of the South-Western and the Northern Europe, as well as of the East. The inhabitants of Tyras, and later of the medieval town of Bilhorod, influenced a lot the culture of the population of the adjacent territories, played a decisive role in the Hellenization, as well as in general cultural and economic development of the Scythians, Getae, Sarmatians, Cherniahivts and other nomadic and agricultural peoples. Medieval Bilhorod, in the center of which the largest fortress of the South-Eastern Europe was located, continued that tradition, having become an important point on the trade routes "From the Varangians to the Greeks", the "Silk Road", and the “Salt Road”. The combination of the antique town with the medieval fortress reveals the effect of human values and the derived social, economic and cultural factors on the formation, planning and nature of a unique urban complex and its cultural landscape.
Criterion (iv): The Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi (Akkerman) fortress, which was built on the site of the ancient city of Tyras and the early medieval settlement, is the unique monument of the medieval defensive architecture. The fortress reveals important and distinctive cultural elements of the geo-cultural region, well-preserved fortifications of various types and examples of the application of a diverse and sophisticated building technology. Thus, it is an outstanding example of the fortified structure and one of the most representative and interesting monuments of military architecture and engineering art not only on the Ukrainian territory, but throughout the Eastern Europe. In terms of its construction and architectural features, the fortress is one of the most significant examples of the military architecture of the medieval Europe, which allows to see several important stages of the development of the fortification works. In combination with its cultural landscape, the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi fortress, as the most outstanding military structure of the region, was a component of great importance of the peripheral defense systems of both the Moldavian principality (from the end of the 14th century up to 1484) and the Ottoman empire (from 1484 up to the end of the 18th century). The architectural and artistic traditions of the Byzantines, Ruthenians, Genoese, Moldovans, Ottomans were embodied in a strategically located fortress, organically combined with the unique environment. This important monument has been preserved in all its authenticity and integrity, as well as the surrounding landscape, the main features of which have remained almost unchanged for thousands of years.
Criterion (vi): The monuments of cultural heritage located within the property “Tyras – Bilhorod (Akkerman)” were directly connected with the important events that took place in the times of contacts between the antique and the medieval civilizations with the ancient population of the Northern Black Sea coast and the Eastern Europe, and in the medieval and modern periods of the town's history. Varied archeological and architectural monuments (the remnants of the antique city and the Golden Horde town, the early Christian temple, the remains of the Greek and Armenian medieval churches, the fortress, the spring of John of Trapezund and Suceava), created in different periods by different peoples (ancient Slavs, Byzantines, Tatars, natives from the Central Asia, Moldovans, Italians, Turks, Ukrainians), form a unique multicultural complex still retaining a high associative value for modern peoples and ethnic groups of the region and the whole Eastern Europe. The fortress and the city witnessed the most important historical events of the 14th-19th centuries, being permanently involved, as an object and as a subject, in the political and military history of the Northern Black Sea Region, in particular as a part of the Galicia-Volhynia, of the Great Lithuanian, of the Moldavian Principalities and the Ottoman Empire. Numerous events connected with the struggle of the Ukrainian and Balkan peoples against the aggressive politics of the Ottoman Port and the Crimean Khanate, for the liberation from the Turkish yoke, with the campaigns of the Ukrainian Cossacks and the Russian-Turkish wars took place hereabout. The historical monuments of the town of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi have strong connection with the lifes of the prominent historical figures of different nations: Alexander the Great, Roman emperors, Orthodox Saint John of Trapezund (John the New), Moldovan masters Stefan chel Mare, Alexandru I chel Bun (Dobryi), Sultan Bayazid the Great, Cossack atamans Ivan Sulima, Ivan Sirko, Ivan Paliy, Russian military figures Mikhail Kutuzov, Duke de Richelieu. For many centuries the Bilhorod Fortress with its historical content and natural surroundings, inspired prominent artists of many national cultures to create outstanding works, e.g. "The Life of John the New", the poems by Alexander Pushkin, Lesia Ukrainka, Mihai Yeminescu. All these monuments and artistic works contributed to the transformation of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi into a significant semiotic center of the historical and cultural heritage of the peoples of the Black Sea region.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The process of research, study and publishing of the archaeological and architectural monuments being part of the complex “Tyras - Bilhorod (Akkerman), on the way from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea”, has lasted for more than 100 years. These monuments are authentic and fall under the highest level of national legal protection by inscription into the State Register of immovable cultural heritage. The entire complex of monuments is located in its historic site, the site as a whole has a sufficient level of preservation. The artifacts, which are the results of the archaeological research, are stored in museum collections. The monuments of Bilhorod fortress, have preserved, in general, the features that are peculiar to the time of its formation (14th-18th centuries.) and reveal a high level of authenticity. The integrity of the object to be nominated, jointly with the surrounding landscape, is secured by the comprehensive protection.
Comparison with other similar properties
The site “Tyras - Bilhorod (Akkerman), on the way from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea” is an ancient “river-to-sea” port, which was located on the intersection of the river and marine trade routes, stretching from the West to the East, and then backwards along the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea coastline, as well as from the South to the North along the Dniester River. One of the largest and better preserved fortresses of the Eastern Europe was built in the Middle Ages on the site of the ancient town for protection of the city and the important trade routes. The closest to it in terms of size, time of construction, constructive features and planning structure already included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, are Kasbah of Algiers, Tipasa, Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador), and the fortifications located on the Caribbean coast of Panama: Portobelo and San Lorenzo.