The Château de Dourdan was built at the request of Philip Augustus in the 1220s in the place of a wood structure. The castle became the property of Jean de Berry in 1385. It was besieged during the French Wars of Religion. Among some of the notable personages who resided in the castle were Philip IV of France's daughter-in-law, Joan II, Countess of Burgundy, detained there from 1314 to 1315 in relation to the Tour de Nesle affair, and La Hire, one of Joan of Arc's comrades-in-arms.
At the end of the 17th century, the Château de Dourdan was given to the Duke of Orléans who turned it into prison. The donjon was used as a prison until 1852. It now houses a museum of local history.
The fortification is characteristic of the military architecture of this period. It is built on a square pattern, with towers at three of the corners and an isolated donjon at the fourth. The walls are punctuated by towers in the middle of each side, and two, on the east side, flank the gatehouse. A deep stone-lined dry moat follows the outline of the castle.
The donjon, the major defensive component of the castle, measures approximately 30 metres in height and 13.6 metres in diameter. It is the typical of the donjons being built by King Philip II Augustus of France at this time, like at Rouen and other French nobility throughout the 13th 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.