Pfeffingen Castle is one of the largest castle ruins in the canton Basel-Land. In the area around Aesch and Pfeffingen existed originally a Franconian royal court. However, no remains have preserved from this time. In 1135 Notker von Pfeffingen was mentioned for the first time, which was probably related to Count von Saugers.
At the end of the 12th century, the Pfeffingen castle fell to the Count of Thierstein. In 1212 a family of Schaffner von Pfeffingen, who lived in the castle, was mentioned for the first time. In the mid-13th century the castle was comprehensively rebuilt. At this time, the curtain wall and the large residential tower were built. In 1335, the Bishop of Basel besieged the castle without success.
The great earthquake of Basel damaged Pfeffingen castle in 1356. When the Counts of Thierstein-Pfeffingen tried to expand their rule, it led into conflict with the city of Basel, whereupon Basel army successfully besieged the castle in 1376 and burned it down. The castle was restored after it.
In the 15th century Pfeffingen was conquered several times in wars between Austrian Habsburgs and Swiss armies (during the Old Zürich War). The castle, heavily damaged by the numerous wars, could not be maintained. In 1571, a new residential building was built as a replacement for the old residential tower, and a tower-defended gate and a bridge were built in the eastern part of the complex.
In the Thirty Years' War in 1637 the castle was occupied by Swedish troops under Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar and only eleven years later left in very poor condition to the bishop. Around 1750 the castle was finally abandoned by the Blarer family of Wartensee, who moved to the Aesch castle. Afterwards, a hermit lived temporarily in the castle. In 1761, the castle was auctioned on demolition and then fell rapidly.
After preparatory work in 2011 and 2012, construction work began in May 2013, overseen by ZPF Ingenieure. As the lime mortar that is used here can only be worked with when there is no frost, i.e. in the warmer half of the year, the work will take around six years. As the largest and most seriously damaged part of the ruins, the residential tower is to be reconstructed first. Here, there is a particular focus on sealing the coping and structurally securing unstable sections. The goal of the work is to repair the existing damage and to preserve the historical structure.
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.