Aulencia Castle is located at the top of a little hill where the Aulencia river joins the Guadarrama river. From there, one can see a beautiful landscape, composed of the Aulencia river brook’s vegetation on one side, and the European Space Astronomy Centre on the other.
As it is for the history of this beautiful and original example of a Spanish noble mudejar castle, it is said that the Arabian feudal king who ruled this region resided here, and to him, every near townsperson paid homage and realty in order be allowed to live there. This castle is similar to many others of its time, all which still exist in different areas of Castilla, especially Jadraque (Guadalajara).
In the 14th century, it passed into the hands of García Fernández; and in the 15th century Álvarez de Toledo, a member of the court of John II of Castille, took possession of the castle. At this time, the descendants of Álvarez de Toledo, the Núñez de Toledo, raised walls around the castle in order to prevent possible attacks. During the Spanish Civil War in the 20thcentury, it was used as a fortress in the Battle of Brunete.
The majestic and slender Aulencia Castle is made up of a tower surrounded by a double wall. The exterior part is made up of six cylindrical towers united by a 1.4 m wide and 6 m high wall. The enclosure is rectangular and its longest side is 25 m long. The highest tower is up 20 m high. The territory inside the enclosure was thought to harbour simple rooms without any ornamentation. Nowadays, only ruins remain.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.