The first confirmed reference of Grodziec comes from Pope Adrian IV's bull of April 23, 1155. In 1175, Prince Bolesław I the Tall drew up a privilege for Cistercians from Lubiąż at the castle. In the time of his heir, Henryk I the Bearded, the wooden terrestrial castle was replaced by the building of a brick one. The foundation of the castle church is attributed to Saint Hedwig. In the 14th and partially in the 15th centuries the castle was the property of the knightly family of Busewoy.
In the period of the Hussite Wars, the building was captured and plundered by a Hussite detachment. In 1470, the Prince of Legnica, Friedrich I repurchased it. Master bricklayers brought from Wrocławand Görlitz gave the establishment its present-day spatial structure.
After the Prince's death by the order of his son, Friedrich II, work on the castle continued. It then become one of the most beautiful Gothic-Renaissance residences in Silesia. The final work coincided with the wedding of the Prince to Princess Sophie von Hohenzollern. A grand feast was held in the castle and a great knightly tournament outside was arranged.
In the time of the Thirty Years' War, the castle was captured and burned by the forces of Prince Albrecht von Wallenstein. Because of the amount of damage due to the war, the fortress was left with some parts of the stronghold missing.
In the 17th and 18th centuries efforts were made to rebuild Grodziec, however they were not completed. The Swiss art dealer Martin Usteri acquired 32 glass panes in 1796, which were sold from his legacy in 1829, and thereafter installed in the Gröditzberg castle. From there, six of the former stained glass windows of the Augustinerkloster Zürich were bought by the Gottfried Keller Stiftung in 1894, exhibited in the cloister of the Fraumünster cathedral in Zürich, and then entrusted to the Swiss National Museum on deposit.
In the 19th century, when the owner of property became Prince of the Reich Johann Heinrich IV von Hochberg from Książ, more work of preservation and reconstruction was taken up. Reconstruction was stopped during the Napoleonic Wars, but in the mid-1830s the castle became an object of many tourist excursions. At this time, it developed the reputation of being one of the most attractive historical buildings in Europe.
Reconstruction was started again in the 20th century, when Dr. Baron Wilibald von Dirksen became the owner of the castle. He ordered an elaboration of the design to the most well-known and respected architect and conservator, Bodo Ebhardt, who also supervised the work. In 1908, Emperor Wilhelm II was a guest during the solemn reopening of the cassle after the completion of renovations. The castle was inherited by Dirksen's son, Herbert von Dirksen, who become a prominent German diplomat serving as the ambassador to the Soviet Union, Japan and Great Britain. In 1945, the castle, with some of its possessions, was burnt.
The castle was later transferred to Silesian Society of History and Antiquarianism Lovers for use as a museum, restaurant and a shelter-home.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.