Bogenšperk Castle is a 16th-century castle. It is best known for its association with the 17th-century historian Johann Weikhard von Valvasor. Standing on a low hill, the Renaissance castle is fully restored, and is listed as an important cultural monument of Slovenia. The three-story building consists of four tracts from several time periods, connecting four towers and surrounding an arcaded inner courtyard. The oldest part of the castle is the north tower, which originally stood as a standalone fortification. A wooden bridge was later added, linking it to the south-east tower, which originally served a defensive purpose and was once much higher than the rest of the building; however, since a 1759 fire caused by a lightning-strike heavily damaged the castle, the tower was never rebuilt to its original level. The castle stands on bedrock; one of its attractions is a deep well carved directly into the rock.
In its current form, the castle was likely begun by the noble house of Wagen as a replacement for Boltežar Wagen's nearby Castle Lihtenberk, already in disrepair and severely damaged by a major earthquake in 1511. After the 1630 death of Jurij Wagen, the last member of the family, the castle changed several owners until it was in 1672 finally bought by Johann Weikhard von Valvasor after his return from abroad. Thoroughly renovated, it was furnished with a graphic studio, a library, printing press and collection of curiosities. Due to the enormous cost of issuing Valvasor's book, The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola, Valvasor became heavily indebted, and was forced to sell first his valuable library and, in 1692, his estates. His family moved to Krško, while the castle again changed several owners, the last being the noble family Windischgrätz, who abandoned the castle in 1943. While its interior furnishings were destroyed or looted, the castle itself survived the war intact and was in its immediate aftermath turned into a military hospital. From 1957 it was occupied by Jesuits, who carried out some preventive maintenance on the structure; in 1972, a systematic reconstruction effort began, at first led by the art historian Milan Železnik.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.