Southernmost city in the Russian Federation and the second largest city in the Republic of Dagestan (following the capital Makhachkala). With a population of little over 90,000, Derbent is the home for a variety of different nationalities, the largest being the Azeris followed by the Lezgins and Tabasarans.
Derbent is located on the western shores of the Caspian Sea, south of the Rubas river, on the slope of the Caucasus mountain range (that part of the Caucasus range is referred to as the “Tabasaran Mountains”). Derbent’s location is key to its significance in history, its strategic location makes it the center of land traffic between southeastern Europe and the middle east. Derbent is probably one of the oldest cities in that region, the value of that area as the “gate to the Caucasus” has never been doubted and Archeologists have found structures over 5000 years old situated in the lands in and around Derbent. The city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to sea level and today contains a citadel, parts of walls and watchtowers from different periods of its history. Different rulers/civilizations gave Derbent several names, but they all mean in one form or another, “gate”.
Derbent’s history starts in the 8th century B.C, it was then part of the Caucasian Albania, in the 4th century A.D, it became part of the Sassanid empire as a military outpost and harbor. During the 5th and 6th centuries A.D Derbent was used as a center for the spread of Christianity in the Caucasus area. During the 630s Derbent was invaded by the Khazar Khanate (Khazar Turks) until the Arabs defeated them in 654 and took control of Derbent. At that point Derbent became a center of administrative importance, helped spreading Islam to the Caucasus Area. The Arab Caliphate lost power in the 10th century, at which points Derbent became an emirate, until the Mongols invaded in 1239.
Timur and his armies occupied Derbent in the 14th century until the Shirvan Khan (Azerbaijanian rulers) took control of the Area. In the centuries that followed Derbent was the stage for several wars between Turkey and Persia, the Turks took control of Derbent until the 17th century when Shah Abbas, a Persian ruler, defeated the Turks. Derbent became part of the Persian state. Russian forces involved in the 2nd Persian campaign invaded the region in 1796, and finally in 1813, as a result of the Gulistan treaty – between Russia and Persia – Derbent became part of the Russian Empire.
Present & Final Note
Derbent is home to several textile plants, machine building plants and food production facilities. Fishing & fishery supplies, construction materials and wood industries are also part of the local industries. Located in gorgeous surroundings mixed with a unique history make Derbent the perfect vocation Spot but that pesky “instability” in the region (Chechens running around killing & kidnapping everyone in sight, various other blood feuds/cultural feuds are present in Dagestan). So if you are looking for an interesting place to visit, Derbent is certainly for you, just wait till it calms down a bit.