Burgruine Aggstein is the remnant of a castle on the right bank of the Danube, north of Melk. According to archaeological excavations of the foundations of the castle it has been inferred that the castle was built in the early part of the 12th century. The castle was built by Manegold III Aggsbach Getbeen of the Kuenringer family descent and his son Aggstein Manegold IV inherited it as a fiefdom of Bavaria. They started living in the castle from 1180 onwards. Its notoriety was due to the 'robber barons' of Schloss Schonbuhel and Burg Agstein' who imprisoned their rivals for ransom and tied them to a rock ledge all the time threatening to kill them by throwing them into the gorge. In 1181, it came into the possession of the Kuenringer Aggsbach-Gansbach. The castle was besieged during the revolt of the Austrian nobility against Duke Albrecht I in 1295/96. Kuenringer Leutold occupied the castle from 1348 to 1355 and then it fell into disrepair.
In 1429, Duke Albrecht V pledged to rebuild the ruined castle because of its strategical point on the Danube. The purpose was to collect taxes from passing boats. In 1438, he built a riverbank toll house to regulate shipping on the Danube and used it as a front to accumulate wealth by robbery from ships. Later, another dishonest baron, Georg von Stain, occupied the castle but in 1476 he was caught and expelled and was forced to surrender the castle. Duke Leopold III took over the castle in 1477. It was occupied with tenants and carers in order to stop the looting which had taken place on the river in previous decades.
In 1529, the castle was burned down by a group of Turks during the first Turkish siege of Vienna. It was rebuilt and provided with loopholes for defence with the help of artillery. In 1606, Anna Baroness acquired the castle, but after her death, the castle was neglected. In 1685, the castle became the property of Count Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg. Then in 1819, one of his descendants, Ludwig Josef Gregor von Starhemberg, sold the castle to Count Franz von Beroldingen who renovated the castle in the 19th century. The Beroldingen family owned the castle until 1930 when the estate and the ruins of Schönbühel Aggstein were sold to Count Oswald von Seilern Aspang.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.