The Knights Templar in Ukraine

Ukraine has always been bound up with the history of Europe and so it’s unsurprising to find evidence of the Knights Templar in the region of Transcarpathia in the west of the country. Most incredibly, between the towns of Uzhgorod and Mukachevo, one can still view the impressive ruins of a Templar castle.

Srednyansky Castle possessed huge walls and what’s left behind is still imposing. Built in the Romanesque style, this 12th century monument dominates the local landscape. It would have originally stood at 20 metres high with walls about two and a half metres thick.

It was circled with ramparts and ditches and its structure suggests that invading forces were expected by the Templar knights. The castle was entered from the second floor of a three-tier structure via a wooden ladder. The idea being that this could be burned if a powerful enemy approached.

The nearest town is Serednie located in the ‘oblast’ (province) of Zakarpattia. There may have been an economic reason for Templar activity in Transcarpathia and that would have been the lucrative trade in salt. Even under the rule of the Soviet Union in the 20th century, salt mining was still an important source of revenue. For the Templars, revenue from salt would have been diverted to fund their crusades in the Holy Land.

End of the Knights Templar in Ukraine

When the Knights Templar were crushed by order of the Pope and the King of France after the year 1307, many Templar properties were turned over to the rival Knights Hospitaller. But the Srednyansky Castle fell into the hands of the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit (Ordo Fratrum Sancti Primi Eremitae).

This was an order of monks founded in 1250 in the Kingdom of Hungary. They venerated a saint known as Paul of Thebes (227-341 CE) who allegedly lived alone in the Egyptian desert from the age of 16 until he died at 113 years of age. As the Ukraine was ravaged repeatedly in wars over the centuries that featured the Mongolians, Russians, Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ottoman Empire, the castle took a battering from which it never recovered.

I believe there are also claims of a Templar ‘cave’ on the so-called Black Mountain (Chornohora), a dormant volcano in the Carpathian Mountains in the same part of Ukraine. Curiously, websites with details about this have been taken down during the present Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

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