Baldenstein Castle was the family castle for the Knights of Baldenstein, the first of which was mentioned in 1246. The central tower which now forms part of the castle was built around the same time. Very little is recorded about the Baldenstein family and by 1289 the castle was owned by the Freiherr von Löwenstein. Before 1289 he lost the castle in a war with the Freiherr von Rhäzüns, but in the peace treaty of that year received it back after giving Schwarzenstein Castle to Rhäzüns. In 1349 it passed to the Übercastel family. Wilhelm von Übercastel planned to expand and strengthen the castle, but was prevented by the Bishop of Chur, until he granted the Bishop certain rights. Originally the castle consisted of a rectangular bergfried. During the Late Middle Ages an administrative and residential wing was added to the west.
Around 1400 the castle passed to the Freiherr von Stein. Through marriage it then passed to the von Ringg (later Ringg von Baldenstein) family in 1453. In 1562 Luzius Ringg sold the castle to Jakob Ruinelli. The Ruinelli family lived in the castle for several generations. Jakob's grandson, also named Jakob, accompanied Jürg Jenatsch to Rietberg Castle in 1621 to murder Pompeius Planta during the Bündner Wirren. He, in turn, was stabbed to death in 1627 in a brawl between drunken officers. After his death the castle was inherited by the Rosenroll family. During the 16th and 17th centuries the castle was further expanded with a new, larger wing replacing the medieval residential wing. During the same time, the medieval ring wall was replaced with a new crenelated wall.
In 1738 the castle was acquired by the Salis-Sils family, who owned it for almost half a century. In 1782 it was inherited by Francesco Conrado, from Chiavenna in Italy. Francesco became a member of Senate of the Helvetic Republic after the French invasion of Switzerland in 1798. Eventually his descendants changed their name to Conrad and still own the castle. In 1877 the residential wing was mostly destroyed in a fire. It was rebuilt to its present appearance in the following years.
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.