Derbent (also spelled Derbend, in Persian Darband means “narrow gates”) is the city in Dagestan Republic located in the narrow pass between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus. Derbent is the most southern city of the Russian Federation.
Derbent is one of the most ancient “live” cities in the world. The first settlements were founded there in early bronze epoch - at the end of 4,000 B.C. Its ancient name is Caspian Gates, it was first mentioned in the 6th century B.C.
Derbent has the population of about 120,000 (2012).
The phone code is +7 87240; the postal code is 368600.
The climate of Derbent city area is of continental type, transitional from moderate to sub-tropical. The average temperature in a year is 12,3 degrees C above zero, average temperature in January is 1 degree C above zero, average temperature in July is 24 degrees C above zero.
Derbent is located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, not far from the mouth of the river Samur, where the Caucasian mountains come the closest to the Caspian Sea and leave just a narrow 3 km wide line of lowland.
Closing it the city formed so-called Derbentsky or Caspian pass. The importance of Derbentsky pass was great, it was located in one of the most strategically important and topographically convenient point of famous Caspian way which linked the Eastern Europe and Front Asia.
Importance of this pass caused attacks of Scyths, Sarmats, Alans, Huns, Khazars and others. It experienced stormy historical events, attacks and destruction, decline and prosperity. It was an important part of the Great Silk way. Derbent was the crossroads of civilizations linking East and West, North and South.
Derbent city views
Ancient Greek historian Herodotus mentioned “Derbentsky pass” in the 5th century B.C. The Roman Empire was greatly interested in the city, it organized its first expedition in 290-281 B.C. In 66-65 B.C., military expeditions to Caucasus headed by Lucullus and Pompeus took place, one of their objectives was to conquer Derbent.
In the early Middle Ages, struggle for Caucasus was continued by Byzantine and Iraq. From the 5th century, the city rapidly grew and fortifications were constructed in order to prevent Asia from nomads’ attacks - Turkish tribes of Huns and Khazars. In 488-531, stone walls were constructed. The fortress acquired the outlook preserved till nowadays.
A new stage in the city development was linked with Arabs invasion in the 7th century. In 651, Arabs conquered Derbent, but managed to finally assimilate just in 733-734s. From that time the population of the city was rapidly turned into Islam.
At this time Dzhuma mosque was constructed. The city turned into the main strong point of Arab caliphate in the Caucasus and became the most important political and ideological center. Derbent was the largest medieval city in the Caucasus with developed crafts and agriculture.
Medieval Derbent was the largest port on the Caspian Sea, important center of transit trade between East and West, North and South. Derbent supported tight trade ties with a lot of regions and cities in Near and Middle East, Eastern Europe - medieval authors and a lot of archaeological finds witness this fact.
In 1239, Derbent was conquered by Mongols and became a part of the Golden Horde. In 1387, Timur conquered Azerbajan and Derbent shah Ibrahim I Derbendi was ready to subordinate to him.
Legend says that Ibrahim I Derbendi sent Timur a gift: gold - 9 packs, silver - 9 packs and so on, slaves - 8 persons. And when Timur asked: “Why 9 packs of everything, but just 8 slaves?” Ibrahim I Derbendi answered: “the ninth slave is me”. This answer pleased Timur so much that he didn’t destroy Derbent but even ordered his workers to rebuilt the destructed walls instead. In 1606, Derbent became a part of Persia.
In the early 18th century, when there was a threat of Iran and Turkish invasion of Caspian regions, Peter I committed his famous Persian (Caspian) expedition (1722-1723).
Derbent took a special place in Peter’s the Great plans. On August 23rd, 1722, Peter I arrived in Derbent with a large army. Peter I paid his attention at its historical monuments. Scientists and professionals who came with his escort made the first description of historical monuments and it was the start of Derbent learning.
In 1735, Derbent became a part of Iran again. In 1796, during Persian expedition the city was captured by the Russian troops, in 1813, it was joined to Russia, from 1846, it was a part of Dagestan oblast. In 1840s and later it experienced rapid economic growth. In 1898, Derbent was crossed by the railway Petrovsk-Port (Makhachkala) - Baku.
Derbent city sceneries
Derbent places of interest
Present day Derbent is an outstanding monument of defense architecture. Even after 1,500 years Derbent defense complex impresses by its grandeur, mightiness and power.
Derbent defense constructions included a citadel, 2 long city walls which absolutely closed the pass and went far into the sea forming a port. The fortress-citadel Naryn-Kala is located in Derbent, its age is about 2,500 years.
Derbent is the oldest cultural center of Dagestan, birthplace of its spiritual and material culture, it is where art, art crafts, written language, values of Islam and other world religions spread from.
Combination of unique monuments of history, architecture and archaeology together with wonderful nature landscapes and favorable climate make the whole region an important center of inner and international tourism.