Although the official date of the Dussen castle’s establishment was during the 13th century, there was likely a fortified house on the property long before the present-day castle. The castle’s dungeon was built in 1330 by John VI of Heusden and in 1387, permission was granted to extend the modest keep into a real castle. In 1418, the castle was passed down to Arent’s son. Just three years later, the castle would be severely damaged by St. Elizabeth’s flood. Parts of the towers and a few of the basements were the only that remained of the original structure.
It would be 50 years before the castle would be restored to its former glory. After exchanging hands a few times, it would be Jan van der Dussen V that would eventually rebuild the castle between 1473 and 1474. After his death, the castle was passed down to his son, Floris II van der Dussen. Floris then passed the castle down to his son, Jan van der Dussen VI, but he would die childless. The castle was then put in the hands of Jan’s sister Cornelia. During the next two hundred years, the castle would be remodeled in Tuscan style and also have a west wing added. Both towers were also improved.
In the early 1900s, a chapel was added. In 1931, the castle was put up for sale with plans for the structure to be demolished. The municipality stepped in, purchased the property and began restoration work. Unfortunately, the castle would become severely damaged in 1944 during World War II. In 1980, renovations were once again performed.
Today, Dussen Castle serves primarily as an event venue, but guided tours are offered by the Friends of Castle Dussen Foundation. Information on touring dates, hours and costs can be found on the Friends of Castle Dussen Foundation website. The castle is still surrounded by its original 14th century moat and includes three residential wings that surround the courtyard. While not available to tour, the vaulted cellar dates all the way back to 1387.
Weddings and business meetings are the most popular events held at the castle. The castle can accommodate up to 300 guests and the castle’s staff can also help with the planning process. Dussen Castle offers a complete package, with catering available for both small and large events.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.