The town of Almodovar del Rio played an extremely important role in the Middle Ages owing to its strategic location on a hill around 252 metres high next to the Guadalquivir river, which at that time was navigable for small vessels. The traces of multiple cultures, amongst which are Islam and Christianity, can be evidenced in the architectural style of this unique building. In the year 756, this fortress became the estate of the Moorish Prince Al’delMalik Ben Qatan and from 758 onwards it passed into the hands of the Emirate of Cordoba in the reign of Abderraman I.
During the 10th century it was tied entirely to the Caliphate of Cordoba, going on to belong in the 10th and 12th centuries to the Taifa of Carmona, subsequently to the Taifa of Sevilla and finally to the Almohad Empire.
The Moorish King Abed Mohammed de Baeza would later die at the gates of the Castle during the 13th century in 1226, the year in which the fort fell into Christian hands having been handed over to Fernando III ‘The Saint’. Henceforth, the castle would go on to be subjected to successive extensions initiated by the Castilian Kings D. Pedro I of Castile and Enrique II of Trastamara. Meanwhile, Alfonso XI ‘The Just’ and Pedro I ‘The Cruel’ would also end up getting involved in these extensions.
The castle has played host to myriad events over the course of its history. Figures such as Doña Juana de Lara (wife of Prince Don Tello, stepbrother of King Pedro I) have been imprisoned within its walls, it has housed the treasures of Castile and its dungeons have been impenetrable witnesses to the agony of illustrious prisoners such as the 1st Duke of Benavente. Amongst other to have figured in its history are governors Don Alfonso Diaz de Vargas, Diego Fernandez de Cordova and Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordova.
Al-Mudawar Al-Adna went on to be called Almodovar del Rio, in reference to the municipality in the province of Cordoba which is home to one of the most magnificent and best kept castles in Spain.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.