Wülzburg fortress is situated on the highest point of the south Frankenalb, which rises to 640m. Surrounded by adry moat hewn into the rock, it is an imposing and singular monument of a Renaissance fortress in Germany.
From the 11th century onwards a Benedictine monastery stood here. During the Reformation it was dissolved, a provost was put in charge followed by a civil administration in 1537. In 1588 Margrave Georg Friedrich d. A. von Brandenburg-Ansbach erected a pentagonal fortress with the bastions in modern Italian fortification style. The site was well chosen in the southern part of his territory, close to the imperial city of Weissenburg.
To the imperial citizens of Weissenburg the fortress always caused anxiety and posed a threat, especially during the Thirty Years War. In 1631 the fortress, into which the family of the Margrave had fled, was handed over to General Tilly (imperial side) without fighting. Until the end of the war it remained in the hands of the imperial troops or those in league with them. They survived all blockades and brought havoc to the town during periods, when it was held by the enemy.
The original castle tract was destroyed by a great fire. It was re-erected after the Thirty Years' War. In 1791 the fortress passed into Prussian, in 1802 into Bavarian hands. In 1867 its status as fortress was cancelled and in 1882 the Bavarian king sold it- with the exception of the south wing – to Weissenburg. In the 19th and 20th century it served as prison and refugee camp, Charles de Gaulle being kept here in 1918. After 1945 the castle was renovated and now houses aschool.
The castle chapel has the remarkable tombstone of abbot Wilhelm (died 1449).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.