Sigismund, Archduke of Austria, had this modest castle (Landesfürstliche Burg) built in central location of Meran in the second half of the 15th century. He probably used this fortress behind the town hall as his private city residence. However, this ensemble of buildings rather resembles an artistically designed, solid building with low enclosure than a fully-developed castle. For this reason it is simply often referred to as “residence”.
Up to the 16th century the Prince’s Castle remained a royal residence. In 1516 also Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, resided in the castle. As the building repeatedly changed hands, it started deteriorating in the course of the centuries. In 1875 the city of Merano purchased the building. Between 1878 and 1880 a restoration period followed, based on the drawings of the internationally famous architect Friedrich von Schmidt, who also directed the renovations of the Dome of Vienna. When these renovations came to an end, the castle was opened also for the public. Today it hosts the Prince’s Castle Museum.
Its wood-panelled ancient parlours, tiled stoves, bedrooms and maiden rooms provide an interesting insight into the life in Mediaeval times. The furniture, however, dates back to the Gothic and Renaissance periods. Also some weapons such as lances and halberds have been preserved. Moreover there is a little chapel decorated with frescoes dating back to the 16th century.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.