Griffen castle was built between 1124 and 1146 by order of Bishop Otto of Bamberg. In an 1160 deed, Emperor Friedrich I mentioned Grivena as a Bamberg property.
In 1292 the Carinthian nobleman Count Ulrich von Heunburg with support of Archbishop Konrad IV of Salzburg occupied the fort in an uprising against Albert of Habsburg, the son of King Rudolph I of Germany and Duke Meinhard II. However Ulrich was abandoned by his allies and one year later had to leave the castle. In 1759 Bishop Adam Friedrich sold the Bamberg estates in Carinthia to Maria Theresa of Austria and the castle was incorporated into the Carinthian duchy.
About 1520 a large reconstruction of the castle took place as a protection against the threat posed by the Ottoman forces with a base amounted of about 4000 m², though the Turks never laid siege to Griffen. In 1659 a flash impact destroyed one of the towers and the decay of the castle began. In 1768 a last religious service took place and about 1840 the roofs were torn. In 2000 the preservation of the castle began. A steep footpath leads up the mountain to the ruins.
Within the mountain is the Griffener Tropfsteinhöhle (dripstone cave) with a length of 485m, which was not discovered until the late days of World War II. It is open to public and a natural landmark since 1957.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.