Godesburg castle was built in the early 13th century on the Godesberg, a hill of volcanic origin, it was largely destroyed following a siege in 1583 at the start of the Cologne War.
The site has a controversial history. First mentioned in documents from the early 8th century, there was supposedly an old cult site and its name derived from the old Germanic Wotansberg, Woudensberg, or Gotansberg.
The fortress foundation stones were laid by a vicar upon the order of Dietrich I, the Archbishop of Cologne. After Dietrich's death in 1224, his successors finished the fortress; it featured in chronicles of the 13th through 15th centuries as both a symbolic and physical embodiment of the power of the archbishop of Cologne in his many struggles for regional authority with the patricians of the imperial city of Cologne. By the late 14th century, the fortress had become the repository of the Elector's valuables and archives, and by the mid-16th century, was popularly considered the lieblingssitz, or the favorite seat (home), of the Electors.
The fortification had been originally constructed in the medieval style and in the reign of Siegfried II of Westwald (1275–1295) successfully resisted a five-week siege by Count William of Cleves. Successive archbishops continued to improve the fortifications with stronger walls and expanded moats, adding levels to the central Bergfried, which was cylindrical, not square like many medieval donjons, expanded the inner works to include a small residence, dungeons, and chapel, fortified the walls, added a curtain wall, and improved the roads. By the 1580s, it was an elaborate stone fortress, and it had been enhanced partially in the style made popular by Italian military architects.
In 1959, the ruin was rebuilt according to plans by Gottfried Böhm, to house a hotel and restaurant. Today, the restaurant is still in operation, but the hotel tract has been divided into apartments.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.