The Kaunas Fortress was a military project implemented by Russian government. In 1879 Russian Emperor Alexander II accepted a suggestion to build military fortress in Kaunas in order to defense the western border of Russian Empire from German invasion. In the general plan of fortifications there were many objects intended to be built like a surround of 7 fortresses and 9 interjacent artillery batteries, defensive centers, military train station, workshops, stores and many more.
Fortresses were built at the approaches to Kaunas city in distances of 2-2,5 km. The line of set fortresses formed almost a regular oval by 4000 workers annually. Total of 250 wooden and 200 stone buildings serving for military purposes were erected in the territory of Kaunas fortification. However, as building works were slower than modernization of technique, the Kaunas Fortress had to be modernized several times too. In 1912 the Kaunas Fortress had to be double widened, but a broke out of the First World War stopped the works. In the World War I (1915) an army of 90 000 soldiers was garrisoned in the Kaunas Fortress to sustain a siege of German military forces. After 11 days of siege, Germans finally smashed into the Kaunas Fortress. During the assault 4000 defenders and more than 4000 German soldiers died. 20 000 defenders were taken captive. More than 1300 various cannons, guns and military stores were taken by Germans.
After the First World War, some of fortifications were dismantled and the rest served for the troop and Kaunas city. During the Second World War Kaunas Fortress was not used for defensive purposes any more. The Sixth, the Seventh and the Ninth forts were used as concentration camps by German army. About 50,000 people were executed there, including more than 30,000 victims of the Holocaust.
In the postwar period Soviet occupants established military bases in most of these forts. The old buildings of fortification were not preserved as they were demolished and rebuilt. After Soviet military forces were pulled out, military bases located in forts were liquidated. As Kaunas city expanded, some of these forts got into territory of Kaunas city and were surrounded by living houses and city streets, interblending into an environment of Kaunas city.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.