The castle was built in the 12th century to guard the road from Chur over the alpine passes. The oldest part of the castle, the ring wall, was built in the second half of the 12th century. The main tower was added in the early 13th century. The Lords of Strassberg first appear in the historical record in 1253.
The ring wall around the main castle originally had a residential building along the north side and still shows signs of windows and privies. In the 13th century a large, square, four-story tower was added on the west side of the ring wall. East of the main ring wall was another, larger ring wall which may have included a gate house. Very little of this outer wall remains and it is unclear how it connected to the main castle.
The castle is first mentioned in a record in 1275 as castrum dictum Strasceberch and at that time it was owned by the powerful Freiherr von Vaz. The Strassberg family appear to have been ministerialis, unfree knights in service to a higher noble, or vassals of the Vaz family. Strassberg castle allowed the Vaz to collect taxes from trade along the road. In addition, it protected nearby Churwalden Abbey, which was the burial place of the family. After the extinction of the Vaz family, in 1339, the castle was inherited by the Counts of Toggenburg.
The Toggenburg counts received imperial permission to establish a customs station at Strassberg in April 1348. However, the Bishop of Chur objected and by December of the same year, the Toggenburg permission was revoked. Over sixty years later, in 1413, they were able to acquire customs rights from Emperor Sigismund, which when the bishop objected, ended up with Zürich having to arbitrate between the Toggenburgs and the bishop.
In 1360 the last Strassberg died out and the castle passed fully to the Toggenburgs. For the next three quarters of a century several different Toggenburg vassals held Strassberg as a fief. When the last Toggenberg count, Frederick VII, died the castle was inherited by the Counts of Montfort. Probably due to the power of the League of the Ten Jurisdictions Monfort granted the town of Churwalden its freedom and a promise that the castle would always stand open to Churwalden and that the vogt would only live in the castle if the town granted its permission. In 1466 the Counts of Montfort sold the castle to Archduke Sigismund of Austria. A few years later, in 1471 Sigismund sold the castle to Ulrich von Matsch and then inherited it back in 1479.
The castle began to fall into ruin and in 1491 Vogt Disch Ammann von Rhäzüns reported that the castle was somewhat damaged. On 5 March 1499, during the Swabian War, the castle was burned by retreating League troops to prevent it from falling into Austrian hands. By the 16th century it was already a ruin.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.