Veste Oberhaus castle dominates the old city of Passau, which it faces across the Danube. Below Oberhaus on the promontory between the two rivers is Veste Niederhaus, part of the fortress system.
The fortress was built in 1219 by Ulrich II, the first prince-bishop of Passau, at the location of a previously existing chapel dedicated to St. George. The intention was to express the military strength of the bishopric and support the bishop's status as an elector of the Holy Roman Empire, granted in 1217, and also to protect against both external enemies and internal threats such as those citizens of Passau who wished to acquire the independent status of a free imperial city.
As siege techniques improved over the centuries, Veste Oberhaus was repeatedly renovated and extended, beginning in 1255–56, so that it offers an opportunity to study fortification techniques from the 13th through the early 19th century. The most significant rebuilding took place under Leonhard von Laiming, Christoph von Schachner, Urban von Trennbach, and Johann Philipp von Lamberg. Under them, the fortress developed from a Gothic citadel to an early Renaissance princely residence, a 'fortified princely castle', and finally, in the era of invasion by the Turks, a regional fortress and symbol of aristocratic status. Archeological investigations in the 1990s revealed traces of a 17th-century residential tower.
The fortress was attacked five times between 1250 and 1482, each time without success. Twice, in 1298 and 1367, the attackers were the citizens of Passau themselves in rebellion against the bishop.
Between 1535 and 1540, numerous Protestant Anabaptists were imprisoned in the castle dungeon for their beliefs. During their imprisonment, the Ausbund hymnal, still used in Amish religious services, was developed. Some of the hymn writers died while imprisoned; many were martyred.
In 1704, 1742, and 1800 the fortress was forced to surrender to various forces. Secularization in 1802 brought an end to the rule of the bishop. Napoleon made use of the fortress during his campaign against Austria, placing it under the control of his allies the Bavarians as a border outpost, but in 1805 it surrendered to the Austrian army. After the Congress of Vienna the area was controlled by Bavaria and for almost a century, until 1918, the fortress served an additional purpose as a state and military prison.
In 1932 the City of Passau gained possession of Veste Oberhaus and instituted a museum, the Oberhausmuseum.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.