Isenburg is a ruined castle located high above the valley of the Zwickauer Mulde. Archaeological finds indicate that this site already existed in the 12th century. Little is known about the history of spur castle and its violent destruction. There are no verified, documented references. Oral traditions - the first account dates to 1738 - called the Isenburg a 'robber castle,' the 'Old Castle' and the 'Iron Castle', from which its present name is derived. The castle had been destroyed by the 14th century and was never rebuilt. Its ruins were probably used from the 15th to 17th centuries as shelters for the local population during times of conflict. Around 1750, the remains of the castle were demolished to build the stone church in Wildbach.
The recommended way to visit the castle ruins is by foot from Hartenstein railway station which takes about 30 minutes. Only about 200 metres from the station is Stein Castle. At this spot the route crosses the Zwickauer Mulde river to a point immediately below Schloss Wolfsbrunn. Here the route turns left and winds through the Poppenwald upstream and parallel to the Mulde. After a short, but steep, climb known as 'Gentle Henry' (Sanfter Heinrich), the path forks. Keeping right, the route passes the Wildbach Church on an easy forest path. Here there are signs to the ruins which are another 700 metres further on.
The left-hand fork leads via a wild and romantic narrow path on top of the river bank of the Mulde to the same destination. This path is called the 'Raubrittersteig' ('Robber Baron Climb') and is one of the most attractive walks in the Mulde Valley.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.