The fortress of Real Fuerte de la Concepción (Royal Fortress of the Conception) is a star fortress built in the Vaubanesque style. In 1640, following the death of Philip II, the conflict known as the Portuguese Restoration War began. The Spanish King began to make plans to recover the throne of Portugal and part of these plans was the strengthening of fortifications along the border along with the construction of new fortress along the border of the two countries. The Fortress of the Concepcion was one of the new fortresses constructed by order of the Duke of Osuna, commander of the Spanish Army and was located in this area to serve as a military station for the Spanish army to recover Portugal.
The construction of the fortress began in 1663. The first phase of construction was completed in 1664 taking just 40 days. This first phase sore the construction built around a large central courtyard with Pentagon bastions built in each corner with reinforced earthworks around the perimeter with addition of bundle of brushwood fascine’s and filled Baskets of woven wicker timbers woven around steaks in circles to form Redoubts. The fort was garrisoned by 1500 infantrymen and 200 cavalrymen.
Spanish troops were defeated by the Portuguese in the Battle of Castelo Rodrigo. The King of Spain took control from Osuna and ordered the demolition of the first Fort Concepción under a year after the start of the building. It was not a total demolition, as it was still sporadically used as base for the troops.
In 1735, the military engineer Pedro Moreau took on the construction of a new fort of the Concepción. The fort was completed in 1758.
However, in the War of Independence, the fort was to play a prominent role. Napoleon's decision to take control of Portugal and put his brother José on the Spanish throne would transform the fort into a major stage. The British landed in Portugal. At its command was Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington. The enormous territory surrounding Fort Concepción was to become a battlefield throughout the Spanish War of Independence. In the summer of 1810, the French besieged Ciudad Rodrigo and the brigadier Herrasti surrendered the square to the French Marshall Rey. On 21 July 1810, the British blew up Fort Concepción during their withdrawal. The four revellines which protected its walls were destroyed, as were two of its strongholds. A large part of its walls crumbled. The small fort of San José and the circular barracks of Caballerizas were also blown up by British gunners. The ravages of gunpowder can still be observed 200 years later.
After the war, the fort fell by the wayside. With its walls half in ruins, locals used the building as a quarry until the middle of the 20th century: many residents of the area went there to find stones to build their houses. The naves of the fort were also used by nearby shepherds and cattle farmers to house cattle and also for growing mushrooms.
In 2006, the current owners bought the ruins of Fort Concepción. They immediately began to began to rehabilitate the site, enhance its value and transform it into a hotel. This great transformation came to fruition in 2012 when the Real Fuerte de la Concepción reopened, this time as a luxury hotel: the only military Vaubam-style fortress in Europe to be renovated into a luxury hotel. And once and for all, it welcomes everyone – whether Spanish, Portuguese, French or English – with open arms to enjoy an environment of total peace.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.