The Momjan castle, presently dilapidated and ivy-grown, can hardly evoke the power and wealth of the life that characterized it. It was built above the abyss overlooking the Dragonja River, today a border between Croatia and Slovenia. Located at 280 meters above the sea level, it dominates the Dragonja valley, divided from it by the Poganja brook.
Momjan was first mentioned in 1035. The Patriarch of Aquileia was given a rule over it by the deed of gift in 1102. The erection of the fortress began in the first half of the 13th century, when it was given by the Patriarch to the Counts of Devin. The owners of Momjan, the family of Woscalc from Devin and sons, were known for their fickleness and expressed their affiliation depending on interests. Fitting nicely into this feature was their constant desire to gain political functions. They were known for their disputes and conflicts with neighbours, and often fought and changed sides between the Counts of Gorizia and Patriarchs of Aquileia. Almost a cursed town, it constantly changed owners, the property was mortgaged, returned, but always important and mentioned. Thus, it was ruled by the regents appointed by Pietrapelosa and the Counts of Gorizia.
In 1548, the castle was bought by Simone Rota, of the Rota family from Bergamo, who moved to Piran just before purchasing it. Rota gave the castle the trapezoid shape with a square tower, which was renovated as residential quarters. It erected the chapel of St. Stephen and built a new stone bridge. Until it was abandoned in 1835, the castle had a residential function, after which it fell into decay as the Counts of Rota moved to a more comfortable palace in the village. As the castle was long owned by the Rota family, it is known today as the Rota Castle. Only the ruins of the castle remained as reminder of the Momjan's glorious past.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.