CastelBrando, former Castrum Costae, is a medieval castle situated on a dolomite limestone rock overlooking the villages of Cison di Valmarino and Valmareno. The name CastelBrando is due to the name Brandolini, the ancient family from Forlì, who were the Lords of the castle.
CastelBrando was originally built in the Roman age as a defensive fortress in order to protect the important lines of communication which connected Northern Italy to the countries on the other side of the Alps. The original castrum, dating from 46 AD is still visible today. The original Roman baths have also been excavated, as have the original pipes of the aqueduct which supplied water from three nearby natural springs. These springs still provide water for the castle today.
During the European Migration Period the fortress became an important defensive position against barbarian invasions. Over the centuries the castle has been subject to numerous enlargements and renovations. During the 13th century the castle was substantially enlarged while under the ownership of the Da Camino family. Their architectural additions included surrounding the castle with imposing Guelph-Ghibelline style battlements and building a central tower.
The Castle's ownership then passed over to the Republic of Venice. After the fall of Venetian Republic in 1797, it was passed down through the family of Giovanni Brandolino and became the property of the Brandolini Counts, an ancient family from Forlì. In the first half of the 16th century Antonio Maria Brandolini (1476–1522), commissioned skilled engineers to enlarge the central part of the castle in Sansovino style, adding Venetian Gothic double and triple mullioned windows. In 1700 the Brandolini family commissioned Ottavio Scotti, architect and Count of Treviso, to design and build an extension to the southern part of the castle. Part of these works included the building of a castle chapel, the Church of San Martino. The chapel was decorated internally with frescoes painted by Egidio Dall'Oglio (18th century).
During World War I, the castle was invaded by Imperial Austrian forces and used as a military hospital. After 10 years of restoration work, financed by Count Girolamo IV Brandolini (1870–1935), the castle was re-opened as a place of residence in 1929. CastelBrando has now been extensively restored and now houses a 4-star hotel, museum and a theatre. Visitors can get up to the castle by funicular railway from the village.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.