Start | The List | Tentative | Timeline | Connections | Community | Missing | Forum | Map | Blog | About


The Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent are part of a strategic Sasanian defence system from the 5th century. Derbent is situated on the western shores of the Caspian Sea, in present-day Dagestan. It was in the position to control the traffic between Europe and the Middle East, and shield the prospering agricultural peoples of the Middle East from devastating raids of nomadic tribes from the steppes of South-Eastern Europe.

The defence structures that were built by the Sasanians were in continuous use by the succeeding Persian, Arabic, Mongol, and Timurid governments. Its militairy function lasted til the 19th century. Its name is a Persian word: “Darband”, meaning "closed gates".

The fortifications consist of:
• Two parallel defence walls, 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.
• 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.
• the ancient City, between the two walls, holds interesting courtyard houses, mosques, baths, madrasahs, and the remains of a caravanserai.


Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
I arrived by train early in the morning to Makhachkala, Dagestan capital. Just at the railway station I saw a plaque commemorating the visit of Stalin in the twenties, and I felt uncomfortable.
After walking around the town for a few hours I decided to go southwards, to the 5000 years old city of Derbent, considered Patrimony of the Humankind by the UNESCO.
It was only a 2 hours drive in a marshrut, o minibus.
Once in Derbent I was delighted. While in Makhachkala there was snow, in Derbent the weather was more pleasant and the view over theCaspian Sea was fantastic.
The town seems to belong to the middle Ages. There is an imposing old fortress over the top of the hill that I visited at once, and then entered inside the citadel. People still wear exotic caps made on animal skins and spoke many different languages, but mainly Azeri, because of the short distance with neighbor Azerbaijan. I was told that in Dagestan 46 languages are spoken, but everybody understands Russian.
After two days I took a night bus to Nalchik because the direct and shorter road to Chechnya, so I was told, was closed.
During the post controls between republics the army always asked me baksheesh. Usually I refused, even if that meant to be searched my bag and being asked questions about my presence there, but sometimes I gave a few rubbles, especially in the border with Chechnya where an officer, 1.90 meters tall, almost 2 meters I think now, between Rambo and Tarzan type, with muscles everywhere, even in his ears, requested me baksheesh for “champagnski”. He was so nice and gave me so much information about the Caucasus and Abkhazia that I gave him 100 rubles for “champagnski” (a bottle of Sovietskoe Shampanskoye costs about 70 rubles in the supermarkets). Then he asked me for chocolate as well, because Russians drink champagnski eating chocolate. Finally I gave him 100 rubbles more for chocolate. He was extremely happy and wished me best luck during my hazardous journey.
Early in the morning I reached Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino Balkaria.
Date posted: July 2013
Yeshuah Ben Israel (Israel):
This great historic wall was built to keep out the hoards of savage caucasians who lived in the inhospitable region in the caves and hillsides of that Caucasus area. It is a facinating history that extends back 6000 years, when these savage people, who are refered to as Gog and Magog, or known as the caveman, were walled in away from the civilized areas of man.
Date posted: July 2010
angela elizirov (usa):
me and my husband are from Derbent. My grand-grand parents came to Derbent and built a beatifull houses. And also I know books about my Family-tress Ildatov. So if any one can help me to find those books I'll be very happy. The books published in 1913.
Date posted: August 2009
i was born in Derbent, untill 1993, it was populated by caucasian Jews, after the colapse of the Soviet Union, Jews Left either to Israel or US, and then muslims from the local villiages took over. It was the most beautiful place and the only place where Jews, Muslims and Christians lived side by side like Family! However i heard after the Chechnya War, Chechen wanted to take over the City, and since Derbent belongs to Russia, it did not Happen! I'm very Happy That It did not Happen! Derbent is too Valuable, to the History of Kavkaz to belong to Muslim Extremists! Only people with Good Intentions (it doesnt matter what religion they are) should live there. I'm so Happy i was born in such an innocent place, where Hate and Jelousy was not present, only good memmories!
Davood ALizadeh (IRAN):
Tehran, IRAN The name Derbent/Derband in Persian is very nostalgic to many Persians/Iranians as She was one of the great pride Persian towns along the Capsian Sea up to 19th Century, when Russia took over the city from Iran by 1820. Even North Tehran district today has an old enclave named after the city of Derband in Russia. It is one of my great fantacies to be able to finally see Derband.
Togrul (Azerbaijan):
This is one of the most wonderful of the Azerbaijani cities. Unfortunately, it remained in Russia when Azerbaijan got independence, now visiting this beautiful city bears problems for us, Azerbaijanis of mainland Azerbaijan...
leah (United states):
i was born in Derbent and lived there for 12 years. I love my city
fahri (Turkey):
I have been there 4 years ago. I worked for a private Turkish University named International Eastern University as a lecturer. I tought there some accounting lessons. I always miss the days I lived in Derbent and miss the students. Who ever loves and saves Derbent, I love him/her.

Greetings from Istanbul

Have you been to Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent? Share your experiences!

Add your own review

Site info

Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent
Country: Russia
Inscribed: 2003
Cultural Heritage
Criteria:  (3) (4)
Category: Secular structure, Military / Fortifications Archaeological site, Near Eastern

Site history:
2003 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription

Site links

Official website:
»Derbent (in Russian)

In the news:
» Daghestan's Derbent Debacle (19-02-2015).

Related links:
» English info on Derbent.
» Small towns of Russia: Derbent.

Related Forum posts:
Not available

Getting there

This WHS has 1 location(s).


Baths . Frontier walls .
Caspian Sea . Caucasus .
Golden Horde . Sassanid Empire .
Human Activity
Sea Ports .
Individual People
Alexander the Great . Peter the Great .
Religion and Belief
12 Apostles . Mosque .
Built in the 5th century .

© WHS 1997-2015