Château de Josselin was built in the 11th century and rebuilt at various times since. Guéthénoc, vicomte of Porhoët, Rohan and Guéméné, began to build the first castle on the site around the year 1008, choosing a rocky promontory overlooking the valley of the Oust. The site chosen for the castle was excellent from both the commercial and the military points of view, and since the 9th century there had also existed an annual pilgrimage in September to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Bramble (Notre-Dame du Roncier), which added greatly to the wealth of the lords and people of Josselin.
In 1154, Odo, Viscount of Porhoet, step-father, guardian and regent of the young Conan IV, Duke of Brittany, collected the Breton lords to deprive Conan of his inheritance, but was defeated by Henry II of England, who was also Duke of Anjou, whose protection Conan had sought. Henry married his fourth son, Geoffrey, to Conan's only child, Constance, Duchess of Brittany, and Henry and his son pulled Josselin Castle down in 1168 and 1175. Henry II himself led the demolition and sowed salt into the ruins.
During the Breton War of Succession (1341-1364), the garrison of Josselin fought inconclusively the defenders of the nearby Castle of Ploërmel. To break the impasse, the Battle of the Thirty was arranged, contested by thirty knights from each side, and took place on 26 March 1351 halfway between the two places. The men of Josselin defeated the champions of Ploërmel, who consisted of four Bretons, six Germans, and twenty Englishmen.
In 1370 the Breton soldier Olivier de Clisson (1336-1407), later Constable of France, acquired the lordship of Josselin and built an imposing new fortress with eight towers and a keep one hundred yards across. He married his daughter Beatrice to Alain VIII of Rohan, heir to the viscounts of Rohan, whose own castle was not far away. The castle now boasts an equestrian statue of Olivier de Clisson.
In 1488 Francis II, Duke of Brittany, took the castle and partially demolished it. His daughter, Anne of Brittany, restored it to Jean II of Rohan, a great-grandson of Olivier de Clisson, who transformed the property and built a noble new house with a fine granite facade, an early example of Renaissance architecture, importing Italian artists and artisans. In recognition of his patroness Anne, sovereign Duchess of Brittany and Queen Consort of France, Rohan added to the facade at several points the sculpted letter A beneath a cord, her badge.
Banned from Josselin due to their Protestantism, René II, Viscount of Rohan and the other Rohan men could not prevent the Duke of Mercœur, then Governor of Brittany, from turning their castle into a base for the Catholic League in its struggles against Henry IV of France.
In 1603, after being advanced by Henry IV to a dukedom, Henry, Duke of Rohan, one of the leaders of the insurgent Huguenots, transferred his military headquarters to his Castle of Pontivy. In 1629, Cardinal Richelieu dismantled the keep and four of the towers at Josselin. In the 18th century, the castle was no longer occupied as a seat of power, and during the years of the French Revolution and the First French Empire it became a prison and warehouse. In 1822, Caroline, Duchess of Berry, persuaded the then Duke of Rohan, Louis François de Rohan-Chabot, to restore it.
The Antechamber of the castle contains a marble bust of the 13th Duke, Alain Louis Auguste de Rohan-Chabot, sculpted in 1910 by Auguste Rodin. The Castle is still a residence of Josselin de Rohan, fourteenth Duke of Rohan.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.