The Barone Fortress in Šibenik is an early modern fortress constructed in 1646 on Vidakuša hill above the city. Together with the remaining three city fortresses, it is a part of the Šibenik fortification system. It played a significant role in city's defense from the Ottomans during the Cretan War.
Since at least the mid-16th century, the city rectors and envoys had been stressing the need for the construction of fortification objects on the hills north of the city, because the city walls and St. Michael's Fortress had not been built to endure any prolonged artillery attack. The pleas were constantly rejected by the Venetian senate due to lack of funds. In the spring of 1646, one year after the Cretan War broke out between the Venetians and the Ottomans, the Bosnian pasha began to amass a large army for the attack on Dalmatia. At the same time, a German nobleman in Venetian service, Baron Christoph Martin von Degenfeld, took over the defense of the city, and a Genoese military engineer, Father Antonio Leni, arrived in Šibenik and made sketches for the necessary improvement of the city's defense. When the people of Šibenik renewed their request for protection, the Venetians denied them the funds once again, but the citizens were not explicitly forbidden from building the fortification by themselves. Upon hearing that, they took the matter into their own hands – the construction of both Barone Fortress and the adjacent St. John's Fortress began on 1 August 1646, and both fortresses were successfully built in only 58 days.
The first Ottoman siege in October 1646 was fended off after just seven days. The fortresses were strengthened over the following winter and prepared for the next attack. On 17 August 1647, the Ottoman commander, Techieli-pasha, arrived in Šibenik with the largest invading army in Dalmatia since the Roman era – 25,000 soldiers and heavy artillery. After a ferocious one-month siege, the enemy withdrew with great losses in both manpower and equipment. Turkish invaders were forced to retreat to the interior, towards Drniš, and never managed to conquer Šibenik.
Originally, Barone Fortress looked somewhat different from what does today, as it was probably hurriedly built in the dry-stone technique. Thirteen years later, in 1659, the Venetian provveditore Antonio Bernardo initialized the construction work that transformed the fortress into an object measuring up to the standards of contemporary military architecture. Shaped as an irregular star, the fortress resisted enemy cannons thanks to the bastions reinforced with mounds. The northern part of the fortress (hornwork) has two demi-bastions connected by a curtain wall. That was the position of the defense artillery. The southern part was used for barracks and magazines. After the Ottoman threat had passed, the fortress was maintained poorly, and the original objects have decayed or been torn down with time. In the early 20th century, the City of Šibenik purchased and then renamed the fortress and its surrounding area.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.