The castle of Aymavilles is certainly the most characteristic and recognizable element of the Aymavilles for its position and architecture characterized by the four cylindrical towers crowned by 'murder holes' that enclose a central body with a square base.
The building, the origins of which date back to 12th century, was repeatedly reconfigured, changed its use from defensive to that of elegant lordly residence inside a great park.
The first record of the fiefdom and the castle date back to 1278, when it was simple a four-sided tower surrounded by a wall, according to the widespread type of the oldest Valdostan castles. Today, the large surrounding walls of the 13th century tower still exist, characterized by being strongly banked, along with a spinal wall divides it into sections at full height.
In 1357, Aimone de Challant became subject to fiefdom three years before the fiefdom of Aymavilles by Amedeo VI of Savoy, allowing it to operate as the defensive reinforcement of the facility, probably considered too vulnerable particularly the level approach on the surrounding land. The four corner towers were thus made: these have circular bases and are unequal in diameter, height and type of crenellations; 'murder holes' and arrow loops were also built, in addition to a double wall with a moat and draw bridge.
At the beginning of 18th century, the external fortifications were demolished and the land was arranged in terraces and gardens, changing the designated use of the building.
After many changes in ownership, the castle was purchased in 1970 by the Regional Administration, which has undertaken major restructuring in these past years.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.