The 'Ponte dei Salti' stone bridge soars over the turquoise Verzasca with two arches. 400 years after its completion, is draws visitors in droves on a daily basis. Some photograph the picture-perfect subject from all sides, others use the bridge as a springboard for diving into the refreshing water.
Anyone driving on the narrow road which meanders along the green Verzasca valley cannot miss the stone bridge at Lavertezzo: with its two arches and the elegant curvature, the 'Ponte dei Salti' makes an exciting contrast to the otherwise rather wild nature of the valley and offers the multitudes of visitors from around the world a picture-perfect subject for their holiday photo album.
While some start on the various hiking routes from here, others enjoy the picturesque bathing site. They leap from the medieval double arch bridge into the turquoise waters of the Verzasca and then lie on a stone in the sun. Anyone who wants to embellish their bathing trip with a little more history can find another architectural gem in Lavertezzo: the 'Beata Vergine degli Angeli' church.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.