Tag Archives: fortress

Russia – UNESCO – Derbent


Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent

The Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent were part of the northern lines of the Sasanian Persian Empire, which extended east and west of the Caspian Sea. The fortification was built in stone. It consisted of two parallel walls that formed a barrier from the seashore up to the mountain. The town of Derbent was built between these two walls, and has retained part of its medieval fabric. The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century.


Montenegro – Ulcinj


The Ulcinj “south coast” region of Montenegro is a popular tourist destination.
Ulcinj’s old town is a very well preserved castle-looking community that is left over from medieval times. The old town sits atop a mountain overlooking the shore and is a tourist attraction on its own.

Each stone of the Old Town guards its secrets from the past. The Old Town consists from several parts: the upper town, citadel, and the army fortress. This fortress of unique beauty fascinates visitors with its mysterious appearance. Its beauty rises from the sea and has a unique charm, calm and is inspiring. There are remains from ancient times such as the museum complex, a church-mosque, a Venetian palace and the Balsic Tower. In front of the tower there is the Square of Slaves, where once Cervantes was held captive and who, inspired by the love of Dulcinea, a woman from Ulcinj, wrote his famous book “Don Quixote”

Malta – Gozo – The Citadel

Gozo’s oldest settlement sprouted up in a defensible spot on a crag in the centre of the island during Roman times. It was destroyed during the Arab invasion, rebuilt, and breached again in 1551 when a battalion of Ottoman troops overran Gozo’s defenses. Afterwards, the Knights commissioned a redesign of the Citadel’s defenses and the Citadel was rebuilt with higher, stouter walls – which survive to this day.
Now a hulk girdled with massive fortifications, curtains, bastions, and ravelings – all innovative defense arrangements in the sixteenth century – the Citadel is a veritable fortress and medieval castle. A walk around the ramparts of its fortifications reveals the stout thick walls, the various rearguard towers, the battery on its eastern flank projecting out of the main body of fortifications as an advanced gun position – and afford unbeatable vantage point views over much of Gozo. It’s a great spot for sunset, sitting on its ramparts with a bottle of wine. T
he medieval structures within its walls are evocative in their weathered walls and restrained Baroque. There are various alleyways meandering throughout, mostly holding townhouses that are designed in a late-medieval Sicilian country style, while the square in front of the Cathedral holds two important public buildings: the Courts of Law in Gozo, and the bishop’s residence. A handful of residents still live in the Citadel, but most of the structures are now opened as museums, while some are also abandoned.

Finland – Suomenlinna Fortress


Suomenlinna, until 1918 Viapori (Finnish), or Sveaborg (Swedish), is an inhabited sea fortress built on six islands (Kustaanmiekka, Susisaari, Iso-Mustasaari, Pikku-Mustasaari, Länsi-Mustasaari and Långören), and which now forms part of the city of Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

In 1747 the Swedish Diet made a decision to fortify the eastern border and to establish a place d’armes on islands outside Helsinki. France, with which Sweden had a military alliance, financed a great part of the construction during the first decades.

Sveaborg was the largest construction project in Sweden in the 18th century. It was constructed under the supervision and direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Augustin Ehrensvard, assisted by the best Swedish engineering and mechanics experts. The fortress was constructed by soldiers in the regular army from all over Sweden and Finland. At its height, the construction crew totalled more than 6500. When Ehrensvard died in 1772, the fortress was virtually ready for use. The overall plan was revisecf in 1774.

European power politics also determined Sveaborg’s fate. In the war of 1808-1809, which was a direct consequence of the treaties between Napoleon and Alexander I, Russia occupied Finland. Sveaborg surrendered and became a Russian garrison for the following 110 years. At the turn of the century there were about 4000 Russian soldiers in Sveaborg. The fortress remained in the state it had been under Swedish rule until the bombings during the Crimean War in 1855, when the British and French Navies ·fired on the fort. In the repairs and modernisation , undertaken after .that, some of the damaged buildings were torn down or made lower and a new coastal defence line of earth banks was constructed.

Before the First World War, Sveaborg, mainly serving as a depot area, formed part of the defence scheme, “Peter the Great’s Sea Fortress”. The intention was that Sveaborg, together with Tallinn, would block off the entire Gulf of Finland and guarantee the security of St Petersburg, the Capital of Russia. After Finland became independent in 1917, Sveaborg became a Finnish garrison and was renamed in Finnish as Suomenlinna. It served as a prison camp after the Civil War in 1918-1919. Suomenlinna was in military use for the last time during the Second World War when it served as one of Helsinki’s air surveillance centres. It served as a garrison until 1972. Its use for tourism and recreation began on a larger scale after 1963 .


Finland – Savonlinna

Savonlinna, a popular spa and holiday resort, lies in the middle of the Saimaa lake system in southeastern Finland, between the Haapavesi to the north and the Pihlajavesi to the south. The town grew up around the castle of Olavinlinna and received its municipal charter in 1639. The oldest part of the town … More > is picturesquely situated on an island between two waterways, with the newer districts on the mainland to the west. Savonlinna is one of the main centers of the boat services on Lake Saimaa.

The building of Olavinlinna, castle of St. Olaf, began in 1475. The Danish-born founder of the castle, knight Erik Axelsson Tott, decided that a powerful fortification should be build to protect the strategically important Savo region. The castle was supposed to repel Russian attacks from the east and to guarantee the control of the Savo region for the Swedish Crown. The history of Olavinlinna is a mixture of medieval arms clashing, cannons roaring and every-day chores inside the security of the castle’s thick walls.

The changes in the ownership of the castle left their mark on Olavinlinna: this can be seen in the varied architecture of the castle. These days the castle’s halls and rooms can be rented and used for all kinds of events.

Estonia – Narva

Narva is the third largest city in Estonia. It is located at the eastern extreme point of Estonia, by the Russian border, on the Narva River which drains Lake Peipus.

Narva is dominated by the 15th-century castle, with the 51-metre-high Long Hermann tower as its most prominent landmark. The sprawling complex of the Kreenholm Manufacture, located in the proximity of scenic waterfalls, is one of the largest textile mills of 19th-century Northern Europe. Other notable buildings include Swedish mansions of the 17th century, a Baroque town hall (1668–71), and remains of Erik Dahlberg’s fortifications.

Across the Narva River is the Russian Ivangorod fortress, founded by Grand Prince Ivan III of Muscovy in 1492 and known in Western sources as Counter-Narva. During the Soviet times Narva and Ivangorod were twin cities, despite belonging to different republics. Before World War II, Ivangorod (Estonian: Jaanilinn) was administrated as part of Narva.

Bulgaria – Vidin – Baba Vida Fortress

Baba Vida fortress in the town of Vidin on the river Danube in Northwesternmost Bulgaria is the only medieval fortress that has survived to this day in this country.

A portulan, a travel guide of sorts, from the Roman times first mentioned the fortress under the name Ad Malum (probably of Celtic origin). The Romans later changed the name to Bononia, which the Slavs pronounced as Budin, and the Proto Bulgarians as Bdin. The present-day name Vidin appeared for the first time in Ottoman registers as early as the XV century.

Baba Vida is a medieval fortress built on the foundation of the Roman Bononia fortification that existed for five centuries till the mid sixth century A.D. It was part of the Danubian frontier of the Roman Empire. The citadel had two parts, a housing and economic part, and a defensive part. The castle represented a square building encircled by two walls, an inner wall and an outer wall, forming a courtyard in between. The castle towers were built on the inner wall. Four of them occupied the four corners pointing to the four directions north, south, east, west. There were also five lateral towers, and of course the main entrance tower, built on the outer wall. The fosse in front of the castle was filled with water from the river Danube. It had a wooden bridge that went up and down. The principal construction works date from the period of the Second Bulgarian kingdom, the late XII –early XIV century. During that time Hungarian and Bulgarian rulers took turns to hold the possession of the fortress. The last dynasty of Bulgarian kings before the country fell under Ottoman domination, the Shishman dynasty, originated from there. The building technique combined stone and brick bound by mortar. After the fall to Ottoman domination the castle was turned into a fortification and served that purpose right till the early XIX century. Baba Vida fortress underwent rebuilding to allow for fire from small-calibre rifles and canons from the outer wall.

The inner courtyard was home to the guards and also housed the many warehouses. There used to be a chapel in the XIII-XIV century unearthed during excavations and researchers assume that the fortress was also home to the feudal lord of the region. In the XVII-XVIII century the Ottomans built stone quarters for the garrison.

Belarus – Brest Fortress-Hero – Memorial Complex

Brest Fortress was built in the 1830s-early 1840s at the meeting-point of the rivers Bug and Mukhavyets.

During construction, the entire town was relocated to a new position 2km away. St Nicolas Church was built in 1851-1876. Much of it was severely damaged during World War 2.

The site occupies more than four square km, although many of the outer defences were damaged or destroyed during the wars of the 20th century.

There is a citadel at the centre of the fortress, linked to three artificial island fortifications by bridgeheads:

  • Kobrin fortification (north-eastern side)
  • Terespol fortification (western island)
  • Volyn fortification (south-eastern island)

The fortress was captured by the German army in 1915 and after World War 1 remained within Polish territory. In 1930 it became infamous as a prison in Poland in the aftermath of the Brest Elections.

In 1939 Brest Fortress was assigned to the Soviet Union. It earned the title of Hero Fortress for the courage demonstrated by Soviet soldiers when they fought against the German army in 1941. Whilst the Nazis took the town of Brest – 90% of which was destroyed in the fighting – the two regiments garrisoned inside the fortress held out.

For the people of Belarus, Brest Fortress remains a famous symbol of the Soviet resistance during World war 2.