The ruins of the Wildenberg hill castle lie on a northeast-projecting hill spur, the Schlossberg. The lords of Dürn, meritorious members of the retinue of the Hohenstaufen emperor and Schutzvögte of Amorbach Abbey, had the castle built sometime between 1180 and around 1200. According to the Amorbach Abbey chronicles, however, his grandson Conrad I of Dürn (died 1258) started construction in 1216. This probably just refers, however, to the construction of the gate tower.
In 1271 and 1272 parts of the castle were sold, due to the Dürn's financial difficulties to the Archbishopric of Mainz and later to the Amt of the Mainz government, after the Barony of Walldürn had been purchased in its entirety in 1292 by Mainz. Its management was initially exercised by officiates, but later by a vogt or burgrave. In 1291, a certain Henry was the officiate, around 1320 it was Conrad Rüdt of Collenberg. In 1337 Archbishop Henry reconciled with his cathedral chapter and signed over Wildenberg Castle to the canons for a short period. In 1350 the Amt of the castle was enfeoffed to Eberhard of Rosenberg. In 1354 Conrad Rüdt of Collenberg redeemed the fief. By increasing his borrowings from the Archbishop of Mainz, Conrad also received the offices of Walldürn and Buchen. In 1356 an earthquake is said to have seriously damaged the castle. In January that year Archbishop Gerlach enfeoffed the castle of Wildenburg, the town Amorbach and a free tenancy in Miltenberg, without the consent of his cathedral chapter, to Engelhard of Hirschhorn. One year later, he lent money to his Wildeburg burgrave, Conrad Rüdt of Collenberg.
From 1368 Wiprecht of Dürn, Eberhardt Rüdt of Bödigheim, Fritz of Dürn and Eberhard of Fechenbach were the Mainz castellans. In the later period up to the 15th century, members of these families were mentioned as Amtmänner.
In the years 1400 to 1511 the castle was extended in a late medieval style. The west tower and barrier wall through the castle courtyard were built, and the castle chapel renovated.
Until 1525, the castle was still the headquarters of a Mainz Amtmann for the Amt Amorbach. In the German Peasants' War, peasants from the Heller Haufen led by the knight Götz of Berlichingenrazed Wildenberg Castle on 4 May 1525. Since then, it has been a ruin.
In 1803, as part of the process of secularization, the castle was seized by the Principality of Leiningen for a short time. In 1806, the Principality of Leiningen was mediatised by the Grand Duchy of Baden. By 1810 the castle and the area around Amorbach became part of the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt and, in 1816, was transferred to the Kingdom of Bavaria in an exchange of territory.
Parts of the castle were used in the 19th century to build the artificial ruins of Eulbach Park.
Today, the castle ruins are a popular hiking destination and occasionally used for cultural events.
In essence, the approximately rectangular, 80-metre-long, Hohenstaufen period inner ward has survived, having been little altered over the centuries. A diagonally oriented bergfried stands on the uphill side. On the south side is a gate tower with a stepped portal and a castle chapel with bay window on the upper storey of the apse. The spacious palas is situated on the downhill side of the castle. Its window arches on the upper floor, which are comparable to those of the imperial palace of Gelnhausen and Château de Guirbaden in Alsace, are of high artistic value.
The partition wall in the middle of the courtyard is a post-Hohenstaufen addition. That apart, there have been hardly any structural changes to the castle over the years, which is why Wildenberg, despite its ruinous state, is regarded as one of the best preserved Hohenstaufen castles in Southern Germany.
The castle is rich in various mason's marks (at least 50 different ones have been found), some of which are also found on other castles of the Rhine-Main-Neckar region, e.g. Stolzeneck Castle on the River Neckar and also in the palace at Gelnhausen.
The castle is situated at the beginning of the spur ridge south-west of Preunschen. A few metres above the castle is the Fels(en)burg ('Rock Castle'), a cave hewn out of a natural, rock formation, with a rectangular stone entrance portal. The rock was hewn and the stone slabs so arranged to form a flat platform above. It may be conjectured that this was designed as a sort of outer ward to protect the spur side, but that has not been proven.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.