Sterkenburg Castle was probably built in the mid-1200s as a moated round tower house by a Gijsbert van Wulven. The castle remained in the hands of the Van Wulven family until 1456 when it came into the possession of a Wouter van Ijzendoorn through marriage. It remained in their possession for the following hundred years. During their ownership the castle was rebuilt; a square tower was added and a curtain wall was built along the edges of the castle island creating a courtyard between the 2 towers and giving the castle a polygonal shape. Also the round tower was raised with extra floors.
In 1565 Sterkenburg Castle was owned by Reinier van Aeswijn, who was married to the last female Van Ijzendoorn descendant. He allowed a garrison of State troops to be quartered at the castle to protect it and the surrounding lands from the Spanish at the beginning of the 80-Years War. His son Antonie added a gatehouse to the bailey in 1626. In 1646 he left it to his nephew. This nephew however got murdered in the castle's woods in June 1647. This murder was never solved. The following decades Sterkenburg Castle changed ownership several times due to inheritance issues after a couple of untimely deaths.
In 1725 however the castle was bought by a member of the Mamuchet family. This family didn't live in the castle and it was rented out.
In 1741 the, by then decayed, castle was obtained by a member of the Van Westrenen family. The second Van Westrenen partially rebuild the castle's south side, opening up the courtyard demolishing the square tower and replacing it with a new wing on the old foundations.
In 1829 the castle was sold at a public auction to a PA. Hinlopen and his wife. They again sold the castle in 1848 to Karel Kneppelhout. He pulled down the entire castle, with exception of the round tower, and build a new house on the foundations. The round tower was provided with large windows and in 1867 he also added a square tower to the new wing. The present form of the castle is mainly the outcome of his rebuilding.
In 1978 the castle was again sold and used for private habitation. At present the castle can be rented for cultural activities and as an B&B. The castle has its own website at: Kasteel Sterkenburg.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.