According to legend, the castle Veveří was founded by Duke Conrad of Brno in the middle of the 11th century. Nevertheless, the first written mention about the castle is from the years 1213 and 1222, when King Přemysl Otakar I used the fortified castle as a prison for rebellious peers. Initially, it was apparently a wooden or masonry residence situated near the Romanesque church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary west of the present compound. In the 1220s a stone castle on the extremity of the rocky promontory behind a deep moat cut out of the rock started to grow. The keep is the only structure which has remained well-preserved from this oldest building stage.
King John of Bohemia pledged the castle to nobleman Jan of Vartemberk in 1311, but his son, Margrave of Moravia Charles (later Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV), received the property as a debt settlement in 1335. Charles´ younger brother, Margrave Jan Jindřich, then took a fancy for Veveří Castle. He was responsible for the building of its rear part with two towers and an outer ward. In the central area around the keep, he developed the main palace, which included a large hall and the chapel. The present appearance of the compound is the result of these building activities, giving the castle its basic silhouette of a medieval fortress.
The castle was a military-civic centre around a manor until the Hussite Wars. During the Hussite wars, Emperor Sigismund positioned mercenary forces of his son-in-law, Albrecht of Austria, around the castle, but he later pledged it to local nobleman Petr Kutěj in 1424. The Hussites besieged the castle in vain during the years 1428-1432. During the second half of the 15th century, the castle was rented by Przemyslaus II of Těšín, who decided to reinforce the castle with the construction of surrounding walls. In 1468, King of Hungary and antiking of Bohemia Matthias Corvinus started his occupation of the castle.
In 1645, the Swedish Army laid siege to Veveří Castle, but their attack was unsuccessful, as the castle was well guarded and the defenders well armed.
When the House of Sinzendorf (1707–1804) acquired the castle, an extensive reconstruction was made, and since that time, the exterior structure of the castle has remained practically unchanged. In 1742, the Prussian Army, having gained entry by the treachery of the castle steward, pillaged the interior of the estate.
Number of noteworthy renovations and reconstructions were carried out in the 1990s and since 2002 the castle is again open to the public.
The former Gothic chapel of St. Prokopius in the palace, which originally extended vertically from the ground floor to the second, was replaced in the late 19th century with separate spaces on the ground floor and a library and administrative spaces on the second floor. A preliminary plan has been developed for the reconstruction of the chapel.
Beyond the palace one proceeds through a courtyard, which was created in the early 19th century by pulling down two 13th-century royal palaces. Luckily, records remain of the appearance of these palaces. Beyond the courtyard lies the so-called English Wing, constructed in the second half of the 17th centiry in the corridor between the Gothic calls. The ground floor served to park horse carriages, while the first floor was used as an armory and later as a granary. The building stands in need of extensive and costly renovation. Yet further along is found the so-called Backyard Palace, erected in the 17th century with two valuted rooms, one above the other. The renovation plans call for it to be made into a space for cultural events.
At the southeastern conrner of the castle stands the so-called Eastern Prismatic Tower, built in the 14th century to protect the castle area from the east. South of this tower archaeological remains have been uncovered of walls of a medieval Eastern Castle Palace, which probably dates from the late 15th century and was pulled down before the mid-17th century.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.