The town of Spišské Podhradie was founded as a settlement, at the base of the castle mound, which was already fortified at that time, but quickly it became independent of the castle. The first church, destroyed in a Tatar raid, was rebuilt in Romanesque style in 1258-73, probably by the same Italian masons who constructed the first castle. It was granted town privileges and became an important textile centre for its large Saxon community during the 15th century, when much of the town was reconstructed and fortified, but it fell into economic decline after the Reformation.

The street pattern was laid out formally in the 14th century and extended in the 15th century. Following a fire, most of the houses were rebuilt in Renaissance style. The central point of the town is the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, surrounded by town houses. A number of stone two-storey houses still survive, embedded in the fabric of later (largely Renaissance) structures. The town square assumed its present form in the 15th century, round the church. A block of Baroque houses, along with the church and monastery of the Order of Brothers of Mercy, has closed the south-east side of the central square

Today Spišské Podhradie is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Levoča, Spišský Hrad and the Associated Cultural Monuments.

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Derbent Fortress

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.