Tanstein Castle is one of the three castles at Dahn; the others being Altdahn and Grafendahn. Although the three castles are sited next to one another on a hill ridge, they were not built at the same time.
Tanstein is the oldest of the three castles in the group. An 1127 document refers to an Anshelmus de Tannicka as the owner or governor; as a result the castle was probably built in the early 12th century. In 1189, in a deed by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, a Henry von der Than is mentioned and the castle designated as an immediate imperial fief. In the period that followed, Ulrich of Dahn and Conrad of Dahn are named as imperial ministeriales. In 1328 the castle became a fief of the bishops of Speyer. Until 1464 there were frequent changes of ownership, which suggests that the fief was still not inheritable during this phase, but was always re-enfeoffed.
In 1512 Frederick of Dahn purchased the castle. Because he was an ally of the knight, Franz von Sickingen, he was involved in his battles against the imperial princes in southwest Germany. After Sickingen's defeat and death in 1523, Tanstein, too, fell into the hands of the victors. Its occupation by troops of the Archbishop of Trier lasted until 1544 and probably led to irreparable damage to the structure of the castle, because it was finally abandoned in 1585. In 1689, at the start of the War of the Palatine Succession, the French completely destroyed the ruins.
Tanstein Castle is located on the two westernmost rock outcrops of the Dahn castle cluster. Both were originally linked by a bridge. On the rocks today are modern parapet walls that have been rather arbitrarily added and do not give any real idea of the old castle buildings. On the western rock outcrop there were apparently domestic-like buildings, that were built against the rocks. This is evinced by putlock holes and other marks on the rocks as well as a large cistern, in which water from the roofs was gathered and stored.
The lower ward on the southern rock outcrop still shows traces of the original walls dating to the 15th century. These include the ruins of a smithy and a smelting furnace.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.