The castle in Hrastovec is one of the most impressive castles in Slovenia, not only because of its imposing position, but also because of its excellent formation. It is a huge complex with an inner yard and composed of older parts with three Renaissance two-storeyed wings and three towers to the south, and, to the north, of several wings of later construction with unevenly levelled roofs.
The building gradually gained in size. Its ground plan shows that its first foundations were irregularly planned already in the Middle Ages. The castle was first mentioned in 1265 when it consisted of two towers connected by a high wall. In 1338, a chapel of St Oswald was erected next to a smaller building. The Counts of Herberstein owned the castle from 1481 until the World War II, with the exception of a hundred years, between 1802 and 1902. The castle is composed of an older Renaissance central building to the south, and of a later Baroque part to the north. The older southern part, built around 1600, is fortified by three round towers, one on each corner, while the northern part is a result of various reconstruction and construction works in the Baroque period between 1655 and 1666 following the plans of the architect Domenico Della Tore.
The entrance portals of the representative northern part of the castle together with the Chapel of the Holy Cross bear the inscription 1668. A lavishly formed ceremony staircase and a luxurious Baroque Hall are both situated in this part of the castle. The Main Hall boasts wall paintings with mythological and classical scenes, and high quality Baroque stucco work from the first half of the 18th century, which are also to be found on ceilings in the corridor, the chapel and the staircase.
The castle is not open for public.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.