The history of the Iłża town dates back to the Middle Ages, when it was a Western Slavic gord. Since the 12th century, until 1789, Iłża belonged to the Bishops of Kraków. The settlement was twice destroyed by the Mongols (1241, 1260, see Mongol invasion of Poland), and probably in 1294 (or before that date) it received Magdeburg rights town charter. In 1340, a stone castle was built here by Bishop Jan Grot, which was expanded in the 15th and 16th centuries. At that time, Iłża emerged as the center of properties of Bishops of Kraków in northern Lesser Poland. In the 16th century, Iłża became famous for its potters and other artisans. The town prospered, together with whole Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was conveniently located on a merchant route from the heartland of Poland to the Vistula ports at Solec nad Wis³±, Zawichost, and Sandomierz. In 1576, a town hall was built at the main market square, Iłża had a defensive wall, and several Polish kings visited the castle. The decline of Iłża was brought by the Deluge (1655–1660), when Swedish and Transilvanian armies completely destroyed the town and the castle.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.