Achalm is a ruined castle located above the towns of Reutlingen and Pfullingen. Situated on the top of a hill at the edge of the Swabian Alb the ruins of the 11th century castle are topped by a look-out tower from 1838.
Achalm Castle was built around 1030 by Gaugraf Egino and Rudolf of Achalm. The name Achalm appears to refer to a nearby stream, the Ach which comes from the River Alm. The castle was expanded in the 11th Century with a second tower. However the von Achalm family died out shortly thereafter. The castle passed through several owners including the House of Welf. In 1234 the son of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, King Henry VII, rebelled against his father, the Emperor. The owner of Castle Achalm, Heinrich of Neuffen, sided with the rebellious King Henry VII. Following the Emperor's victory over his son Henry VII, Castle Achalm became the personal property of the Emperor's family, the House of Hohenstaufen. Castle Achalm remained a Hohenstaufen property for a time. The castle then passed into the control of the House of Württemberg. In 1377 Graf or Count Ulrich of Württemberg marched from the castle to attack the town of Reutlingen. While he besieged the city, troops from the Swabian Cities League marched to defend the city. Ulrich's troops were defeated and Reutlingen remained a Free Imperial City.
Over the following centuries, the castle began to lose its military value and began to collapse. During the later years of the Thirty Years' War, in 1650, the castle was partially destroyed to prevent enemy forces from using the castle for shelter. Later the stones were removed to build houses in the village. In 1822 the future king and emperor William I had a stone look-out tower built on the foundation of the old tower. The tower was repaired and renovated in 1932 to prevent it from collapsing.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.