Krakus Mound is thought to be the resting place of Krakow's mythical founder, the legendary King Krakus. It has the base diameter of 60 metres and the height of 16 metres. Together with nearby Wanda Mound, it is one of Krakow's two prehistoric mounds, and the oldest man-made structure in Krakow. Nearby are also two other non-prehistoric, man-made mounds, Kościuszko Mound, constructed in 1823, and Piłsudski's Mound, completed in 1937.
The age and the original purpose of the mound remain a mystery, although religious and memorial purposes have been ascribed to the mounds. Excavations conducted in mid-1930s revealed that the mound consists of a solid wooden core covered with soil and turf. Some artifacts dating from between the 8th and 10th centuries were found inside, but no human remains or bones were discovered. According to another hypothesis the mound is of Celtic origin and dates from the 2nd-1st century BCE. Mythical origins are also connected to the mound. Krakus is said to have been constructed to honour the death of King Krakus when mourning townspeople filled their sleeves with sand and dirt and brought it to the site of the Krakus Mound to create a mountain that would rule over the rest of the landscape, as King Krakus had. Originally, four smaller mounds ringed the Krakus Mound, but they were demolished in the 19th century to create Krakow's city wall.
Similar to other ancient structures, such as Stonehenge, the Krakus Mound may have been constructed with astronomy in mind. If one stands on the Krakus Mound and looks towards Wanda Mound at sunrise on the morning of Beltane, the second-largest Celtic feast day, one will see the sun rise directly over Wanda Mound.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.