Kirchheim Renaissance castle is the best preserved example of Württemberg duchy strongholds. On his return from exile, duke Ulrich of Württemberg ordered seven fortresses to be constructed across the country, in order to better protect its territory from other countries. As part of these measures, the fortifications of Kirchheim unter Teck were expanded and in 1538, the castle was established as a corner rampart of the city wall. This simple functional building with two timber floors with a massive base was completed in 1556 under Ulrich's son and successor, Duke Christoph. The building has an irregular diamond shape, with four wings. It was surrounded by a deep moat, which has now been drained. On one side, it still connects to the city walls.
At first, the modest palace of the rulers was used for defensive purposes and occasionally as a hunting lodge. When the plague raged in the capital city of Stuttgart in 1594, Frederick I moved his court here. Over time, its importance as a regional fortress decreased and it was gradually transformed into a residential palace.
During a two century period starting in 1628, Kirchheim castle served as the residence of the widows of some of the dukes. Residences used by the widows of other dukes included the castles in Nürtingen and Göppingen.
After the death of Duchess Henriette, the castle Kirchheimer was used for various purposes. In 1870 and 1871 it served as a hospital for the wounded of the Franco-German War. From 1876 till 1908 the Catholic parish held its services in the chapel. From 1911 till 1948, it contained the city's vocational school for girls, a kindergarten and reidential units. In 1947 the state of Baden-Württemberg assigned the castle to the State Economics School (est. 1923) for teaching and boarding purposes. The Pedagogic Institute and School, the successor to the Economics School, moved into the castle in 1971 and has used the castle ever since.
Kirchheim Castle is one of the state's monuments and is maintained by the organization State Palaces and Gardens of Baden-Württemberg. The grand living spaces on the south side of the second floor are set up as a palace museum and are open to the public. They are dedicated to the last two residents, Franziska and Henriette. Most of Franziska's furniture has been preserved, and this allowed the state of the castle during Franziska's days to be restored when the castle was reconditioned in 1985 and 1997.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.