Sobieski's Castle in Oława is a Renaissance-Baroque style castle located in the site of a former Gothic castle. The original castle had been built by Duke Ludwik I built in the second half of the fourteenth century. It was the third castle structure in Oława, the first being the seat of the castellans, located in the south-east of the town. It remained an integral part of the town's defenses until the wars with the Hussites.
The Renaissance castle was built by master Jakub of Milan, continued by his brother-in-law Bernard Niuron in 1588. After various reconstructions, this part of the castle now houses the local parish church's rectory of St. Apostle Peter and Paul. The reconstruction covered the whole of the Gothic castle, this included the now former west and northern wings of the castle-church. The castle-church's tower, the last fragment of the northern wing, collapsed in the later years of 1970s.
The current castle-church also has a two-level pavilion constructed in the early-Baroque architectural style, built onto the western side of the Renaissance castle. The pavilion was constructed by Italian masters during the reign of Christian, Duke of Brieg (1618–1672); the castle's building is called Christianbau. It was probably designed and built by Carlo Rossi, an Italian architect who spent most of his career in Russia and Poland. The site included a terraced garden which was incompatible with the Polish climate, causing in its rapid devastation.
The castle was part of the defenses used by the House of Piast to protect their lands from incursion by their various enemies; their royal rule in Poland ended in 1370, but the family continued to dominate the areas bordering on Bohemia and Moravia. In the 17th century, the last duke, Christian, left the castle to his widow, Louise of Anhalt-Dessau, as her dower house; she was also the regent for her son, Georg William until his death of smallpox in 1675; the boy was the last male Piast. She remained at the castle until her own death in 1680, after which the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I confiscated the Piast lands and castles.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.