Pürnstein castle, towering high above the valley, was built in the late 10th century. It was first time documented in 1170. In the 13th century, the castle became into the possession of the Prince-Bishopric of Passau. The current appearance dates mainly from the mid-15h century. The castle chapel was consecrated in 1449. Part of the ruins of the original fortifications are also preserved to this day.
A fire on September 7, 1866 destroyed the entire interior with all wooden parts and the roof of the inner castle, only the chapel was spared. The cause arson is specified. However, parts of the buildings added later, most of the 17th and 18th centuries are habitable today. The current owner and the Association for the Preservation of the castle Pürnstein take care of preservation and renovation of the castle.
The castle is located on a north- west and steep terrain. The spacious facility has five semi-circular towers. The main door leads into the outer bailey. The main castle can be reached by the upper castle gate. The main castle is a large, hexagonal residential castle. The courtyard measures 17 x 13.5 meters.
In the central Palas are the knights' hall, living room, kitchen, chapel and the castle courtyard. The palace is surrounded by a defensive wall with five towers. The thickness of the walls is up to six meters.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.