If you are looking for hidden places, rich in mystery and history, then just take the road between Kyiv and Lviv by the village of Chop. From there, walk one kilometer into the woods and only the most intrepid of explorers will find the fortress of Tarakanov. Dating back to the time of Imperial Russia, the massive brick and mortar fortress was constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries to help protect the Lviv-Kyiv rail road and the surrounding area.
Fast forward to the 20th century, the ruined fort has also been a set piece for the film industry, most notably for a scene from the film, Inglourious Basterds.
Some locals maintain that the village is still inhabited by the ghosts of soldiers who died within the fort’s walls over centuries of occupation by Ukrainian, Russian, and German forces. During World War II, when German troops occupied the fort, there were rumors that Nazi scientists were using the space to conduct gruesome experiments on prisoners in a secret laboratory—with the aim of creating super soldiers.
The massive fortress accessed through a hundred-meter long tunnel that was used to transport equipment into and out of the fort. Tarakanivskyy once contained room for lodging, stores, jails, a small church, and also a hospital.
Tarakanivsky Fort now belongs to the Ministry of Defense. It’s hidden amongst the forest, and a visit feels as though stepping into another world. The ruins are free to explore, but there are spots that can be dangerous and requires great attention. A torch light or strong flashlight and proper footwear are highly recommended.
Know Before You Go
From the road in the village of Tarakanov, cross the railway, then turn right. Drive about 800 meters to the rise, then turn left. Travel approximately 100 meters and you will see a tunnel that leads into the fort.