The l'île de Ré, opposite La Rochelle, was subjected on several occasions to attack from British soldiers. Conscious of the need to protect access to La Rochelle and Rochefort, in 1681 Vauban started strengthening the island's defences by building a citadel and fortified castle at Saint-Martin-de-Ré, on the North coast.
Built on the site of a fortress where construction work had started in 1627, the square-shaped citadel occupies the eastern part of the town. Its defensive system comprises four bastions, three demi-lunes and a counterguard, surrounded by a moat and a covered walkway. It contained an arsenal, food and powder stores, barracks and officers' accommodation. The citadel opens on to the sea via a small fortified port. From 1873 onwards it became a stop-off point for penal colony prisoners on the way to New Caledonia until 1897 and later to Guyana until 1938. Today it remains a prison for more than 400 detainees and is not open to the public.
An example of Vauban's first system adapted to suit a flat site, the construction was accompanied by an enormous fortified enclosure capable of accommodating the island's population of some 16,000 inhabitants, as well as their livestock, and of storing food supplies and forage in the event of enemy attack. In an arc on the land side, there are bastions, orilloned half- bastions and a counterguard. Two monumental gates, the Porte Toiras and the Porte des Campani form the access points. Also surrounded by a moat and a covered walkway, it is in addition encircled by an open-plan glacis, sloping outwards from the ramparts within canon-firing range.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.