Differdange Castle was built in 1577 although an earlier fortified castle of Differdange dates from around 1310. The first lord of the castle was Wilhelm, brother of the Lord of Soleuvre, who is mentioned in documents from 1310 when he owned a fortified castle. However, the lords of Differdange lasted only until the death of Wilhelm's grandson around the year 1400. When Soleuvre Castle burnt down in 1552, the owner Anna von Insenburg decided not to repair it but to build a Renaissance-style residential castle in Differdange serving both Soleuvre and Differdange. At the beginning of the 20th century, the castle came into the hands of the local steel industry, now Arcelor Mittal who used it as a hotel and a restaurant for its staff.
Differdange Castle is probably the earliest example in Luxembourg of a château built entirely in the Renaissance style. It was originally intended both as a residence and a fortification with a moat and draw-bridge (now both removed) as well as loop-holes. It is constructed fully in accordance with the principles of Renaissance architecture, especially the use of the square both for the courtyard and the outer walls of the three buildings which surround it. The rectangular cross-framed windows are typlical of the period. The octagonal towers which are slightly higher than the central building provide balance between the horizontal and vertical dimensions.
Since 1997, the castle has been let to Miami University for use as its Miami University Dolibois European Center.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.