Weissenau Castle was first mentioned in the historic record as castrum Wissenowe in 1298. It is unclear whether it was built by the Lords of Rotenfluh (Unspunnen) and then given in fief to the Freiherr of Weissenau or if it was built by the Weissenau family as the center of their estates. The castle was built on what was an island at the mouth of the Aare river into Lake Thun. In the intervening centuries, the waterway silted up and the island became connected to shore. The market town of Widen grew up across the channel from the castle and in 1362 was connected to the castle by a bridge. Around 1334, the Freiherr of Weissenau joined other local nobles in a war against the growing power of the city of Bern. After the defeat of the nobles, Weissenau was forced to sell the castle and Widen to Interlaken Abbey to pay his debts. In 1365, the Abbey moved the weekly markets and yearly fair away from Widen and to the village of Aarmühle (which is now Interlaken). Losing the market devastated Widen and it began to decline.
In 1528, the city of Bern adopted the new faith of the Protestant Reformation and began imposing it on the Bernese Oberland. The Abbey and its villages joined in an unsuccessful rebellion against the new faith. After Bern imposed its will on the Oberland, they secularized the Abbey and annexed all the Abbey lands. Weissenau Castle and the small village of Widen became a part of the Bernese bailiwick of Interlaken. The castle was used as a prison into the 16th century, but began to fall into disrepair and eventually collapsed. In 1655 and again in 1700 the bailiwick made plans to renovate and repair the castle. However, neither plan was implemented.
Today only ruins remain of the castle. The castle residence and tower, portions of the castle building and the curtain wall are all still standing.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.