Bítov Castle is located on a steep promotory towering above the meandering River Želetavka. Built in the 11th century, Bítov is one of the oldest and largest Moravian castles.
A Přemyslid fortified settlement originally stood on the site and included the Chapel of Our Lady. The fort was rebuilt in the first half of the 13th century as an impregnable Gothic castle guarding the southern boundaries of the Přemyslid lands. In the 14th century a new inner ward was built along with Late Gothic fortifications. The Lords of Bítov became the new owners of the castle and based themselves here for four centuries. They carried out further improvements to the defensive capabilities of the castle.
Bítov finally underwent Baroque remodelling, and gained its present form at the beginning of the 19th century, when it passed into the hands of the Counts of Daun. The descendants of Marshal Daun, the famous military leader, rebuilt the castle in the spirit of the Romantic style. Between 1811 and 1845 the richly-decorated state rooms were created, on the basis of proposals of Anton Schuler. The culmination of the re-Gothicising work was the remodelling of the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin by Viennense architect Anton Rucker, who left the original Gothic furnishings. At the end of the 20th century, Bítov underwent extensive refurbishment.
The structural arrangement of the castle through remodelling, which was carried out several times later on, is an example of the Czech Early Gothic castle architecture. The arrangement is highly intricate and leads in one direction towards the front moat, to which both the wedge-shaped round towers pointed. The outer tower, above the moat, was later merged with the body of the castle, while the other tower stands alone at the rear of the inner court.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.