Mersch Castle is one of the castles belonging to the so-called Valley of the Seven Castles. The castle was built in the 13th century by Theodoric, a knight in the service of Countess Ermesinde of Luxembourg. It was captured and burnt down by the Burgundians. In 1574, Paul von der Veltz transformed the building into a comfortable castle in the Renaissance style. The keep had large windows and the property was surrounded by a protective wall with seven towers. Finely vaulted ceilings were erected over the rooms on the ground floor and the first floor. The Knights' Hall on the second floor has a magnificent chimney. The arms of 16 noblemen decorated the walls. In 1603, the castle was again destroyed by the Dutch. In 1635, during the Thirty Years' War, the castle and the village were left in a sorry state. However, around 1700, it was once again repaired, this time by Johann-Friedrich von Elter who rebuilt the gate and appended his coat of arms. The chapel was restored in 1717 by von Elter. The altar bears the arms of the castle's heiress, Charlotte von Elter.
In 1898, the Sonnenberg-Reinach family sold the castle to a businessman called Schwartz-Hallinger. In 1930, restoration work was carried out by the owner M. Uhres. In 1938, a youth hostel was housed in a new building adjacent to the castle. From 1957, the commune acquired the building but sold it to the State of Luxembourg in 1960. As a result of an exchange agreement, the commune finally regained ownership in 1988 and undertook substantial renovation work for the needs of itse administrative services which now occupy the building.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.