Château de Colombières dates back to the 11th century. It was a fortress occupied by William, Raoul and Baudouin of Colombières, comrades in arms of William the Conqueror during the invasion of England in 1066. However the oldest parts of the present castle date back to the end of the 14th century. The wealthy Bacon du Molay built the fortress with the defensive architecture: a quadrangle flanked by four huge towers with arrow slits, a 9ft-thick and 36ft-high surrounding wall topped with a machicolation floor (a gallery with openings in the floor, through which stones or burning objects could be droppers on attackers), a moat and a drawbridge.
At the end of Hundred Years War (1328-1453), the battle of Formigny in 1450 ushered in a period of peace. Two elegant Renaissance towers were added to the castle by this family who owned Colombières fief for three centuries. During the Wars of Religion (1562-1598) fighting resumed. In 1562, the lord and master of Colombières, François de Bricqueville, one of the most dangerous protestant leaders of Lower Normandy is unfortunately remembered for plundering Bayeux Cathedral’s treasure and burning many precious items and books. He then laid siege to the town of Saint-Lô, took the Lord Bishop prisoner and desecrated the chapel of Colombières.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the fortress underwent several architectural changes in order to make the main building more comfortable: the surrounding wall was demolished on one side, one of the towers which had been partially destroyed was rebuilt as a square-shaped donjon, the windows were enlarged, the chapel desecrated by François de Bricqueville was rebuilt by his grandson Cyrus Antoine, who converted to Catholicism in 1678. In 1759, the fortified castle became the property of the Girardin family, related by marriage to the present owners, the Maupeou d’Ableiges family. During this period the fortress was then transformed along classical lines into a beautiful residence.
Today Château de Colombières is a hotel. Also guided tours are available.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.