The hamlet of Schoenfels is first mentioned by the name of Scindalasheim in a deed of 846 as a gift by Bishop Hetto of Trier to Abbot Marcuardus of Prüm.
By 1150 a document from the Abbey of Echternach refers to it as Schonefels. There follow frequent name changes over the next centuries: Schindelzein (1156), Schindelce (13th century), Scindelce (1239), Schindeltz (1434), Schindefeltz (1498), Schindviltz (1503), Schindfels (1506), Schinveltz (1517) , Schonfels (1574) as well as Schindleech, Schindals, Schinfeltz, Bellroch and finally by 1766 Schin- resp. Schoenfeltz. The name probably derives from the word scindula (shingle) meaning manufacture(r) of shingles.
In the 12th Century a person by the name of Theodorius of Schonevels is known. In 1292, before the invention of artillery, a fortified farm (primitive castle) was erected by a certain Ferri, aka Frederic of Schoenfels. It passed by marriage to the lords of Ansembourg, and later to the Sassenheims.
In the early 16th Century, Henry Schloeder von Lachen, Lord of Schoenfels and Busbach, acquired the estate. The Schloeder von Lachen coat of arms decorates the entrance to the tower.
The feudal castle of Schoenfels -of no great strategic value- was stripped of its fortifications by the French Army in 1683.
A quarrell between Theodore of Neunheuser and the Lord of Brandenburg resulted in the castle and village being burnt down on June 22nd 1690. Ch.-Antoine Schloeder von Lachen and Th. of Neunheuser began dividing their lands in 1700.
By marrying Marie-Catherine of Neunheuser in 1759 Pierre-François Gaillot Genouillace became Lord of Schoenfels. His son Francis Roman Gaillot, who had married Marie-Louise Cassal in 1774, sold his Schoenfels properties on 18th August 1813 to J B Thorn-Suttor, the Governor of the Province of Luxembourg during the Belgian period (1831-1839).
Owner of the castle since 1840, the Belgian Senator Jacques Engler, passed it on to his son in law Baron Auguste Goethals who had a splendid mansion built next to the mighty tower in 1870. The family Charles Van den Poll from The Hague inherited the castle and in 1948 sold the Schoenfels property with its vast woodlands to the timber merchant Camille Weiss, who -in turn - passed the castle to the Luxembourg state on 16th March, 1971. The mansion was demolished in 1976 by the Luxembourg State.
At present the renovation of the tower is underway. The plan is to install a visitor centre as well as the offices of the Water & Forestry Administration.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.