Jörgenberg Castle was built in the 8th century as a fortified church, on lands donated by the Frankish kings. In the 765 testament of Bishop Tello it was referred to as a castellum on Jörgenberg hill. At the beginning of the 9th century it was called ecclesia sancti Georgii in Castello or St. George's Church in a Castle. The current castle and church were probably built on the site of an earlier walled church. The timbers in the bell tower have been dated to 1070. Over the following centuries the church became a medieval feudal castle and in 1265 the main tower was completed.
In the 14th century the castle appears in the historical record in the possession of the Freiherr von Fry(i)berg, who were vassals of the powerful Vaz family. In 1333 a coalition of religious and secular lords fought against the Vaz and their vassals, including the Frybergs. Both Jörgenberg and the nearby village and castle of Siat were captured by the coalition. The peace treaty on 1333 returned the castles, but the Freiherr von Rhäzüns had some type of a claim on it. However, a few years later the last member of the Vaz family, Donat, died leaving the Frybergs without a powerful patron. To avoid losing their estates, they sold Siat and Jörgenberg to the Dukes of Austria and then received them back as a fief. In 1342 the last male heir of the Fryberg family, Reinher, died and the Austrians gave the castle to the Counts of Werdenberg. The Freiherr von Rhäzüns demanded the castles based on his claim from 1333 and began attacking the Austrians in the region. During the fighting the main tower was burned. The peace treaty of 1343 placed the fate of the castle in the hands of an arbitrator, who granted the castle to Rhäzüns.
Beginning around 1351 the Rhäzüns family rebuilt the burned tower and added a palas to the north-west corner. In 1378 they bought the nearby Herrschaft of Grünenfels and combined the two into the Herrschaft of Jörgenberg. They appointed vogts to administer the herrschaft for the following century. In 1458 Jörgenberg passed to the Counts von Zollern. The local farmers and villagers disliked the foreign Swabian Zollerns and refused to pay them homage and often rose up in rebellion. A little over a decade later, in 1472, the Zollerns got rid of the troublesome province by selling it to the Abbot of Disentis Abbey. Under the abbot the castle remained the administrative and judicial center of the herrschaft. A pair of stone gallows pillars were built near the castle for executions. In 1539 the Protestant Reformation swept through the area, eliminating much of the Abbey's secular and judicial power and forcing the Abbey to sell Jörgenberg to Mathias Rung von Waltersburg. At that time the castle and church were still in good condition. In 1580 Mathias Rung sold the castle to L. Gandreya, whose family held it for more than a century. During the 17th century it was abandoned and began to fall into ruin. In 1705 they sold the ruins to the municipality. In 1734 the Abbot of Disentis surrendered all his rights to Waltensburg, but retained the title of Lord of Jörgenberg.
In 1931-32 the castle ruins were excavated, cleaned and reinforced. It was repaired again in 1998–2001.
The castle sprawls across a 100 by 70 meters plateau atop St. George's hill east of Waltensburg/Vuorz. Most of the church is in ruins, but the Romanesque bell tower is still standing. The slender tower is decorated with blind arches and was built around 1070. The mostly ruined walls of the church were built in the 12th or 13th centuries, though the northern wall was rebuilt in 1930. The church has a broad nave with a horse-shoe shaped apse and a choir of tuff blocks.
The castle was built in the 12th and 13th century. The five-story main tower was finished around 1265. It is a Romanesque building with round arch windows in the upper two stories. The palas was built around 1351 and was expanded with additional housing later. The ring wall along the northern side of the plateau was also added later.
The two stone pillars of the old gallows are located west of the castle.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.