Runkelstein Castle (Castel Roncolo) is a medieval fortification on a rocky spur near Bolzano. In 1237 Alderich Prince-Bishop of Trent gave the brothers Friedrich and Beral Lords of Wangen permission to construct a castle on the rock then called Runchenstayn.
In 1274 it was damaged during a siege by Meinhard II of Tirol, who after winning the war against Heinrich Prince-Bishop of Trent, entrusted the castle to Gottschalk Knoger of Bozen. In 1385 the Niklaus and Franz Vintler wealthy merchant brothers from Bozen bought the castle. Niklaus was counselor and financier of the Count of Tyrol, Leopold III, Duke of Austria, which allowed them to buy the castle a type of residence unfitting in this time for people of their rank. The brothers Vintler commissioned a vast restructuring of the castle: a new defence wall, moat, a cistern and more rooms were built. In 1390 the construction of the Summer House began. The house was painted with frescos, for which the castle is most famous today, inside and outside. The family also commissioned the frescoes in the Western and Eastern Palace.
In 1407 the monetary conflict between Frederick IV, Duke of Austria, Count of Tyrol and wealthy Tyrolean noble families resulted in open war. The Vintlers were drawn into these disputes and Runkelstein was besieged. Niklaus, who had allied with himself with the nobles in the 'Hawk League' lost all his wealth and possessions. His brother Franz, who had allied with the Duke remained owner of the Castle until Sigismund, Archduke of Austria, acquired it.
The Habsburg family owned the castle until 1530. Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I gave order to renovate the castle. He furnished his apartment and commissioned a restoration of the frescos. He also ordered his Coat of Arms to be prominently displayed in the castle. Around 1500 Maximilian gave the castle to his vassal Georg von Frundsberg. He entrusted the care of the castle to a vicar. In 1520 the powder magazine on the groundfloor of the tower exploded. The explosion damaged parts of the outer wall, entrance and Eastern Palace and destroyed the tower. Afterwards the castle was neglected until King Ferdinand I bestowed it in 1530 to Sigmund von Brandis, Knight Commander of Bozen.
Later the Prince-Bishop of Trent obtained the castle anew and Prince-Bishop Bernhard von Cles gave it as a feud to the Counts of Lichtenstein-Kastelkorn. In 1672 a fire destroyed the eastern palace, which was never rebuilt. In 1759 the last Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn gave back the fief to the Trentine bishops. At the time the castle was in grave decay.
During the Romanticism period in the early 19th century romanticists rediscovered Runkelstein. Johann Joseph von Görres, a German writer was the first to come and was soon followed by the many artists in the service of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. In this time the castle became a symbol for the Romantic period. In 1868, the northern wall of the Summer House collapsed, but in 1880 the castles fortunes changed: Johann Salvator Archduke of Austria bought Runkelstein and gave it as a gift to Emperor Franz Josef in 1882. The emperor commissioned Friedrich von Schmidt to restore the Castle and after the restoration donated it to the city of Bozen in 1893. The last restoration, including a careful restoration of the frescos was carried out in the late 1990s.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.