The Krásna Hôrka Castle stands on top of the conspicuous unwooded mountain, which dominates the Rožňavská kotlina basin. The main attraction though is the embalmed body of Sophia Andrássy-Serédy. Despite the castle was extensively damaged by fire in 2012 it is said to be one of the country's best-preserved castles.
The original Gothic castle was built around 1320. The courtyard of the upper part of a rather small castle with triangle-shaped ground plan has been preserved. Fortifications were added to the castle in time of the Turkish threat. Fortifications including three canon bastions and a cannon terrace in the Renaissance style were built. In addition, it was when the interior of the castle got a more homely Gothic-Renaissance shape and when it acquired its present form.
Three generations of the Andrássy family tried to obtain the castle and finally succeeded in 1642. In 1735, the area in front of the castle gates was adapted and the small Baroque chapel of St John Nepomuk was built there.
In the second half of the 18th century, one of the bastions was rebuilt into the Baroque-Classicist Chapel of Nativity of the Virgin Mary. On the main altar of the chapel, there is a painting of black Madonna also referred to as the Virgin Mary of Krásna Hôrka, that later on became the reason of processions.
The castle houses the exhibition of the Museum of Betliar, which illustrates the history and development of the castle, as well as the way of life of nobles in the past. As the castle with its original furniture is one of the best preserved in Slovakia, it is worth visiting. The castle kitchen and the collection of arms are of special interest. The most precious exhibits are medieval and modern weapons, such as a bronze cannon from 1547 with a small barrel of gun powder and stock of cannon balls or castle rifles – harquebuses from the 18th and 19th century.
In the late 20th century, a medieval catapult was installed near the castle, which is used upon the “Castle Games” that are organized every year.
On the outskirts of the village of Krásnohorské Podhradie stands a mausoleum in the Art Nouveau style with two sarcophagi of the Andrássy family. A gallery with a collection of portraits is situated in another building at the foot of the castle hill.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.