Turku castle is a national monument and one the most remarkable medieval castles in Finland. It's also one of the largest existing castles in Scandinavia. A history of Turku castle begins from the year 1280. The Swedish conquerors of Finland intended it originally as a military fortress.
During 15th and 16th centuries its defences were strengthened and living quarters were added. The castle served as a bastion and administrative centre in Finland. It was also a residence for kings of Sweden, when they visited in Finland. During the struggles for power of Sweden in 14th and 15th centuries Turku castle was several times under siege. Probably the longest one occured in 1364-65, when German lord Albrecht von Mecklenburg besieged it over eight months before Swedish troops surrounded.
The heyday of Turku Castle was in 1556-1563, when King John III of Sweden lived there. During this castle was enhanced to Renaissance fashioned living palace. John III married Polish princess Catherine Jagellon who also lived in Turku short period in 1562-1563. In 1614, when King Gustav II Adolf visited the castle, a tremendous fire destroyed the wooden structure of the main castle almost completely. After this the main castle was abandoned and used partly as a store, partly just stood empty. In the 19th century castle was used as a prison. The last accident beset the castle in the summer of 1941 soon after the Continuation War had begun when an incendiary bomb hit the main castle.
Today Turku castle is Finland's most visited museum, with attendance reaching 200,000 in some years. In addition, many of the larger rooms are used for municipal functions.
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.