Staraya Ladoga Fortress

Staraja Ladoga, Russia

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.

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Walled city of Jajce

The Walled City of Jajce is a medieval fortified nucleus of Jajce in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with citadel high above town on top of pyramidal-shaped steep hill, enclosed with approximately 1,300 metres long defensive walls,. It is one of the best preserved fortified capitals of the Bosnian Kingdom, the last stronghold before the kingdom dissolved under the pressure of military advancement at the onset of Ottoman Empire takeover.

The entire complex of the Walled city of Jajce, with the citadel, city ramparts, watchtower Medvjed-kula, and two main city gate-towers lies on the southern slope of a large rocky pyramid at the confluence of the rivers Pliva and Vrbas, enclosed by these rivers from the south-southwest, with the bed of the Pliva, and east-southeast by the river Vrbas gorge.

History

The fortress was built by Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, the founder of Jajce. However, the city became the seat of the Bosnian kings, hence the royal coat of arms decoration on the citadel entrance. A part of the wall was built by the Hungarian King, while the Ottomans erected the powder magazine. The walls are high and the castle was built on a hill that is egg shaped, the rivers Pliva and Vrbas also protect the castle. There is no rampart on the south and west.

Jajce was first built in the 14th century and served as the capital of the independent Kingdom of Bosnia during its time. The town has gates as fortifications, as well as a castle with walls which lead to the various gates around the town. About 10–20 kilometres from Jajce lies the Komotin Castle and town area which is older but smaller than Jajce. It is believed the town of Jajce was previously Komotin but was moved after the Black Death.

The first reference to the name of Jajce in written sources is from the year 1396, but the fortress had already existed by then. Jajce was the residence of the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomasevic; the Ottomans besieged the town and executed him, but held it only for six months, before the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus seized it at the siege of Jajce and established the Banovina of Jajce.

Skenderbeg Mihajlović besieged Jajce in 1501, but without success because he was defeated by Ivaniš Korvin assisted by Zrinski, Frankopan, Karlović and Cubor.

During this period, Queen Catherine restored the Saint Mary"s Church in Jajce, today the oldest church in town. Eventually, in 1527, Jajce became the last Bosnian town to fall to Ottoman rule. The town then lost its strategic importance, as the border moved further north and west.

Jajce passed with the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the administration of Austria-Hungary in 1878. The Franciscan monastery of Saint Luke was completed in 1885.

Surroundings

The Walled city of Jajce is located at the confluence of the Pliva and Vrbas rivers. It was founded and started developing in the Middle Ages and acquired its final form during the Ottoman period. There are several churches and mosques built in different times during different rules, making Jajce a rather diverse town in this aspect. It is declared National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and, as the old Jajce city core, including the waterfall, and other individual sites outside the walled city perimeter, such as the Jajce Mithraeum, it is designated as The natural and architectural ensemble of Jajce and proposed as such for inscription into the UNESCO"s World Heritage Site list. The bid for inscription is currently placed on the UNESCO Tentative list.