: 114-132
Institute of Cultural Heritage, Chisinau, Republic of Moldova

The Bender fortress - the largest fortification in Moldova, consisting of a castle and a stone-earth fortress, was used by the 14th Army of the Russian Federation until 2008. Therefore for a long time, it was inaccessible for field studies, which soon revealed the contradiction between the accepted history and architecture. Two historical documents - the history of Sultan Suleiman about the construction of the fortress in 1538 and the memoirs of a traveler of the 17th century. Evlia Celebi determined the official record of the foundation of the stone fortress called Benders, closing the topic of the fortress's history before the Ottoman rejection, previously known in the sources as Tighina. A study of the castle's architecture and its comparison with graphic materials and historical photographs revealed that the current state had preserved enough details and traces of structures dating back to its construction before the use of artillery in defense. Among them: traces of the upper battle on the towers, adaptations for the mosque of the second tier of the entrance tower, the absence of walls facing the courtyard of the prismatic towers, a filled-in ditch near the walls of the castle - all these features indicate that, according to one of the most likely versions, the builders of the castle Tighina were Genoese.

An analysis of graphic images and photographs of the castle, made before the architectural degradation of the structure, revealed the missing details that indicate features characteristic of the period before the probable construction of 1538. The castle's architecture was two centuries older than it is currently dated based on historical research, corresponding to a time before the use of firearms and artillery. This is evidenced by the loss of the first moat arranged near the walls of the castle, the wooden galleries on the top of the towers, from which the exit openings to the galleries and sockets from the consoles have been preserved, the missing walls of the prismatic towers facing the courtyard, similar to fortresses in northern Italy. The arrangement of the mosque in the second tier of the entrance tower was carried out later, for which it was necessary to dismantle the stone vault of the entrance passage, replacing it 2.0 m lower with a flat ceiling, and to arrange the entrance to the mosque several steps below the fighting passage, etc. Round artillery loopholes replaced vertical embrasures for bow and arrow defense. The Tighinsky castle was not made of wood and earth; a stone made by Turkish builders did not replace it - it is the same castle mentioned in 1408 as a guardhouse and customs house, and the details indicate a specific time and architectural and cultural region of influence. During the Turkish period, the Upper Fortress and a second moat were built at a distance from the castle, along the inner edge of which, on three sides, bastions for artillery, characteristic of the 16th century, were arranged, from which a tower with a drawbridge was preserved - it seems that this is all that was preserved from Mimar Sinan's contribution to the strengthening of the Bender Castle.

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