The Staraya Ladoga village used to be a prosperous trading outpost in the 8th and 9th centuries. A multi-ethnic settlement, it was dominated by Scandinavians who were called by the name of Rus and for that reason is sometimes called the first capital of Russia. The village was referred in 862 for the first time in ancient annals concerning calling of three Varangian Rurick brothers as crisis managers for the Russia Land, in connection with extensiveness of its territory and absence of any order. Those annals informed that elder brother, who has wooden settlement here and became the ruler of Russian Lands.
The site for the building the fortress is very convenient indeed. There was the main trade waterway from Varangians to Greeks by the river of Volkhov and so there were great possibilities to make big profit of that. The sea of Ladoga is only 15 km away. This place was the capital of Russia for a short time, but soon Rurick moved the capital to Novgorod by political reasons.
In 1114 the first stone fortress in Russia was erected by the Novgorod posadnik Pavel and Ladoga became a large trading city. In 1164 a Swedish army with 55 vessels appeared under the walls of the fortress. They undertook fierce storm but were defeated and forced to escape. In Ladoga Lake they were intercepted by the Novgorod militia and were beaten hard in addition. In 1313 Swedes seized and burned the Ladoga fortress at last, but could not stay here for very long and were forced to escape again. In 1338 the fortress was stormed unsuccessfully by Swedes again. In the 15th century the fortress was totally reconstructed in connection with quick fire-arms developments.
In Time of Troubles (1610) Swedes again grasped the fortress for 6 years. In 1701 there was the last unsuccessful storm of Ladoga by the Swedish army. In 1704 the whole local administration and trading were moved to the small town Novaya Ladoga near the Ladoga Lake under Peter's I order. This was the beginning of fading the ancient city. With the construction of railway in 1860 the trading transportations over the river of Volkhov were in practice stopped. Nowadays Staraya Ladoga is the little and fading village.
Today curtain walls, defensive towers and two of six churches still remain. There are two museums in the fortress with a small entrance fee.References:
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.
Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.
Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.
The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.
During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.
The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.
From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.
The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.
Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.