The Barbican, the 15th century bastion with a circular floor plan used to belong to the wall system of the Bishop's Castle. Its construction is linked to the visit of General Pál Kinizsi, who came to the town in 1498. In the shadow of the Turkish threat the defence systems of castles and towns were strengthened all around the South. The Gothic-style gate tower was built in the 15th century at the western corner of the high castle wall. The Barbican is a round gate tower sitting on a narrow column. Its back gate served a specific purpose: it enabled the defenders to attack the attacking enemy getting in the gate from the side. The Barbican is surrounded with the remains of the castle ditch and you can walk up to the entrance on the old drawbridge. The pulleys of the drawbridge are still displayed inside.
There is a fantastic view opening towards the town from the top of the bastion. You can walk along the machicolation (the wooden walkway) on the top of the Barbican.
After defence structures became obsolete during the 18th-19th century, similarly to other parts of the town, houses were built around the castle wall. The buildings that were built along the castle walls were demolished in the 1960s making the old Barbican as well as other parts of the wall free and visible again.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.