The Brandenburg Gate is one of few surviving city gates in Kaliningrad. It was built in the south-western part of Königsberg in 1657, with the strengthening of the city walls at the intersection with the road leading to the castle of Brandenburg (now the village of Ushakovo). Due to lack of funds a mere wooden gate was erected. Some hundred years later the gate was torn down and replaced by a brick structure by order of King Frederick II of Prussia.
During restoration work in 1843 the gate was significantly altered and decorated with sharp decorative pediments, cruciform sandstone color, stylized leaves on the tops, coats of arms and medallions. Sculptures of Field Marshal Hermann von Boyen (1771-1848), a war minister and reformer of the Prussian army, and Lieutenant-General Ernst von Aster (1778-1855), chief of the engineering corps, and one of the initiators of the second strengthening of the city walls, were added as well.
The Brandenburg Gate is the only gate of the still existing gates of Kaliningrad that performs its original transport function. The structure has been restored and is protected by the state as an architectural monument.
Though built in the middle of the 19th century, the Königsberg gates were neogothic in style. The Brandenburg Gate expresses the Gothic motifs particularly vividly. The pediments in the form of arrows give this gate, which is in fact rather low, a sense of height. The gate is richly decorated with decorative elements, such as the high relief stone and stylized flowers.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.