Esch-sur-Sûre Castle was founded around 927 AD, when Meginaud or Maingaud and his wife Hiletrude acquired the site of Esch-sur-Sûre. He built a Romanesque tower eight metres square as well as farm buildings. The castle was considerably enlarged in the Gothic style by the two last Counts of Esch during the 13th century.
With the introduction of gunpowder in the 15th century, additional defences were required. The entire village was reinforced with a solid wall stretching 450 metres around the village complete with two defensive towers. The round watchtower or Lochturm opposite the keep was also built in the 15th century as were the entrance gate and the castle stables. The castle started to deteriorate in the middle of the 16th century and was dismantled in 1685 by the troops of Louis XIV. The outer wall was however left intact as many of the houses used of it for their back walls. The castle fell into the hands of commoners. When Victor Hugo visited the village in 1871, several families were still living there. In 1902, the Egyptian Martin Riano d’Hutzt bought the ruins from the State for 1,000 francs. He charged the architect Charles Arendt with restoration work and the chapel was restored in 1906 but then funds appear to have run out.
Today only the ruins of the castle remain although the State acquired the site in 2005 and began restoration work the following year. The site is open to the public and is illuminated in the evenings.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.