The Torre del Oro ('Tower of Gold') is a dodecagonal military watchtower erected by the Almohad Caliphate in order to control access to Seville via the Guadalquivir river.
Constructed in the first third of the 13th century, the tower served as a prison during the Middle Ages. Its name comes from the golden shine it projected on the river, due to its building materials (a mixture of mortar, lime and pressed hay).
The tower is divided into three levels, the first level, dodecagonal, was built in 1220 by order of the Almohad governor of Seville, Abù l-Ulà; As for the second level, of only 8 meters, also dodecagonal, was built by Peter of Castile in the fourteenth century, a hypothesis that has been confirmed by archaeological studies; The third and uppermost being circular in shape was added after the previous third level, Almohad, was damaged by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Rebuilding of the third level was made by Brusselian military engineer Sebastian Van der Borcht in 1760.
The Torre de la Plata, an octagonal tower, is located nearby, and is believed to have been constructed during the same era.
The tower was badly damaged by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, and the Marquis of Monte Real proposed demolishing it to widen the way for horse-drawn coaches and straighten access to the bridge of Triana; however, the people of Seville objected and appealed to the king, who intervened. In 1760, the damage was repaired, with repairs to the bottom floor of the tower, reinforcement with rubble and mortar, and the creation of a new main access via the passageway to the path around the wall. That same year, the upper cylindrical body was built, a work of the military engineer Sebastian Van der Borcht, also architect of the Royal Tobacco Factory of Seville. These works changed the appearance of the tower as compared to what is seen in engravings from the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries.
The Revolution of 1868 brought another crisis to the tower as revolutionaries demolished the decorative facing of the walls and put it up for sale. Opposition from the citizens of Seville kept the tower from being destroyed, and in 1900 it was again restored, this time by engineer Carlos Halcón. On April 10, 1923, King Alfonso XIII visited the tower, and on March 21, 1936 the Maritime Museum was installed in the Tower by order of the Admiralty. In September 1942, more restoration work began. The appearance of the facade was improved, two floors were set up for museum display, and the third floor was prepared to house researchers. The museum held its grand opening on July 24, 1944, for which occasion 400 museum pieces were brought from the Naval Museum of Madrid.
On August 13, 1992, the Torre del Oro was made a brother to the Tower of Belem of Lisbon to celebrate the Universal Exposition in Seville. As of 2008 the museum displayed a variety of old navigational instruments and models, as well as historical documents, engravings, and nautical charts, relating Seville to the Guadalquivir River and the sea. The tower was again restored in 2005.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.