Hedeby is the Southernmost Nordic town, and played an important role as a key trading center in the viking age. It is at the crossroads of the Slien Fjord and the Baltic Sea to the East, streams that led to the Atlantic running close by to the West and the main land route, the Army Road running along the Jutland high ridge up along the Eastern side of Jutland.
The city area is surrounded by a 1300 meter long city wall in a half circle around the city area. The city wall is in places still 10 meters high, and was directly connected to the wall, Danevirke, which crossed the entire peninsula of Jutland with Hedeby as the Eastern edge.
Today the city wall can be distinguished from the surroundings by the trees that grow on it. The city area is 6 hectares large. Hedeby is known to exist as early as in the 8th century. A written source tells of the arrival of King Godfred to Hedeby in 804 with his army. And in 808 King Godfred closed down a Slavic trading center called Reric and moved all its merchants to Hedeby.
The Eastern side of the city area is an arm of the Slien Fjord. This was one of the biggest ports in the Baltic Sea at the time, and had its own defensive system with a chain fencing off the harbour area from the Fjord. Today an example of the kinds of bridges that the viking ships moored at has been created to illustrate how things looked. The cows in the picture are not a recreation of how things were - Hedeby was so large and specialized a trading and crafts construction center that cows inside the Hedeby city wall would be as unusual then as cows on today"s Champs Elysees in Paris would be.
One of the finds made in Hedeby is a large viking ship, which is on display at the Hedeby Museum, along with a model of the original. This is a warship, and probably not the most typical ship type that visited Hedeby, which would see a lot of cargo ships bringing and leaving with different goods, primarily from the Baltic Sea area and Russia.
Hedeby was built around a small stream that runs down through the area, dividing it into a Northern and a Southern section. The reconstructed houses are located just North of the stream, at its original edge.
Around 1050 Hedeby was sacked again and probably destroyed by the attackers, and it was never rebuilt. Around the same time the town of Schleswig at the Northern edge of the Slien Fjord grew steadily in size and importance. A possible reason could be that the ship traffic increasingly needed a deeper harbour than Hedeby could offer.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.