Zülpich Castle origins may be traced to a Roman castrum. The present site was built in the late 14th century as a symbol of sovereignty and outpost of the archbishops of Cologne against the County of Jülich.
Razed by French troops at the end of the 17th century, the ruins of the lowland castle ended up in private hands. The Zülpich manufacturing family of Sieger opened a schnaps distillery in the castle until 1870 that operated until the 1980s. In the Second World War it was badly damaged, was partly rebuilt in the 1950s and acts today as a tourist information bureau and home of the Zülpich History Society.
Zülpich Castle is a modest brick building with an almost rectangular plan with high towers at the corners. It is one of the classic quadrangular castles of a type ideal for the Late Middle Ages. Its austere-looking defences are almost entirely devoid of architectural features and underline its fortress-like character which befits its location at the southwestern corner of the medieval town of Zülpich and its incorporation into the town's fortifications.
The enclosed quadrangular structure was originally surrounded by a moat. At its southern, western and eastern corners are round towers that were all once four storeys high. In the north and at right angles is a square tower measuring 10×10 metres with corner ashlars that is the only survivor of an older castle. The present appearance dates the 17th century. The two full-height round towers are topped by protruding, open fighting platforms with brick battlements. All the round corner towers once had residential rooms with fireplaces and garderobes. The western tower facing the town also acted as a dungeon.
The four wings were formerly two-storey residential ranges with high basement vaults. Today only the thick outside walls have survived. The remaining structure of the present-day wing dates to a later period because the original roofs and interior walls from the 17th century have not survived.
The best preserved exterior wall is on the southeast side with the main gate made from carefully cut bunter sandstone ashlars to which the drawbridge used to lead. Above the portal are two, angled coats of arms whose details were probably destroyed by French soldiers in 1794. They used to depict the arms of Frederick of Saarwerden and probably the Archbishopric of Cologne.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.