The Mir (Mirsky) Castle Complex was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. Duke Yuri Ilyinich began construction of the castle near the village of Mir after the turn of the 16th century in the Gothic architectural style. Five towers surrounded the courtyard of the citadel, the walls of which formed a square of 75 meters on each side. In 1568, when the Ilyinich dynasty died out, the Mir Castle passed into the hands of Mikołaj Krzysztof 'the Orphan' Radziwiłł, who refitted it with a two-winged, three-story stately residence along the eastern and northern inner walls of the castle. Plastered facades were decorated with limestone portals, plates, balconies and porches in the Renaissance style.
In 1817, after the castle had been abandoned for nearly a century and had suffered severe damage in the Napoleonic wars, owner Dominik Hieronim Radziwiłł died of battle injuries and the castle passed to his daughter Stefania, who married Ludwig zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. Later the castle became a possession of their daughter Maria, who married Prince Chlodwig Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst.
Their son, Maurice Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, sold the castle to Nikolai Sviatopolk-Mirski, of the Bialynia clan, in 1895. Nikolaj's son Michail began to rebuild the castle according to the plans of architect Teodor Bursze. The Sviatopolk-Mirski family owned the castle until 1939, when the Soviet Union occupied eastern Poland.
When German forces invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 they occupied the castle and converted it to a ghetto for the local Jewish population, prior to their liquidation. Between 1944 and 1956, the castle was used as a housing facility, resulting in damage to the castle's interior.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.