Pazin Castle is built on a solid rock situated in the middle of the town of Pazin, the administrative seat of Istria County. It is the largest and best-preserved castle in that westernmost Croatian county. The fortified structure was constructed of hewn stone, and, during its 1100 years long history, subjected to several major reconstructions and renovations.
The Pazin Castle was first mentioned in 983 in a document issued by Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor, confirming the possession of the castle to bishop of Poreč. In the 12th century the bishops of Poreč ceded it to Meinhard of Schwarzenburg, owner of Črnigrad Castle, then to Meinhard I, Count of Gorizia, and finally to Meinhard, Margrave of Istria (d. 1193) and his successors.
In 1374 Albert IV, Margrave of Gorizia, died without successors and the castle was inherited by the members of the House of Habsburg. They rented or mortgaged it many times during the next few centuries to various noblemen closely related to them.
The castle was finally sold to Antonio Laderchi de Montecuccoli in 1766 and remained the property of his family until 1945. In the meantime, various countries around the castle changed many times over the last more than 200 years: after the end of the Venetian Republic in 1797, Pazin belonged to the Habsburg Monarchy, then to Napoleon's French Empire, again to the Habsburg Monarchy, in 1918 to Italy, in 1945 to Yugoslavia, and in 1991 to Croatia.
Today, the Pazin Castle houses the Ethnographic Museum with exhibits of the life of the Istrian peninsula inhabitants.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.