Brest Fortress, formerly known as Brest-Litovsk Fortress, is a 19th-century Russian fortress. It is one of the most important Soviet World War II war monuments commemorating the Soviet resistance against the German invasion on June 22, 1941 (Operation Barbarossa). Following the war, in 1965 the title Hero-Fortress was given to the Fortress to commemorate the defence of the frontier stronghold during the first weeks of the German-Soviet War.
The Brest fortress has sustained its original outline of a star shaped fortification since its construction in the early 19th century. The Citadel, the core of the fortress, was on the central island formed by the Bug River and the two branches of the MukhavetsRiver. The island was skirted by a ring of a two-storied barrack with four semi-towers. The 1.8 km long barrack comprised 500 rooms to accommodate 12,000 soldiers within thick walls built from super strong red bricks. Originally there were four gates to enter the Citadel. Today only Kholm Gate and Terespol Gate can be seen, most part of the barrack lies in ruins.
The Citadel was surrounded by three fortifications as bridgeheads, that were made up by branches of the Mukhavets River andmoats (ditches), fortified by earthworks 10 m high with redbrick casemates inside. The three fortifications were named after two towns: Kobrin in Belarus, Terespol in Poland and Volyn, a region in the Ukraine. The Kobrin Fortification was the biggest in the fortress, located in the northeastern part, shaped like a horseshoe, featured four fortification curtains, three detached ravelins and alunette in the western part, East Fort and West Fort. The Terespol Fortification was the western bridgehead, featuring four detached lunettes. The Volyn Fortification was the southeastern bridgehead, featuring two fortification curtains with two detached ravelins.
A ring of outlying forts was built later around the old citadel. As the post-1945 border along the Bug river runs through the fortress area, many of the fortification works are now in Poland, around the town of Terespol. This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on January 30, 2004, in the Cultural category.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.