Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Derbend

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DERBEND, or DERBENT, a town of Russia, in the government of Daghestan, on the western shore of the Caspian, about 170 miles E.N.E. of Tiflis, in 42 4 N. lat. and 47 53 E. long. It occupies a narrow strip of land lying between the saa and a mountain ridge of moderate elevation, which is crowned by the citadel, or Narin Kale" ; and on all sides except towards the east, where it projects into the water, it is surrounded by strong walls built of porous limestone. Its general aspect is decidedly Oriental, owing to the flat roofs of its two-storied houses. Besides the governor s residence, which stands in the neighbour hood of the citadel, the town possesses a fine Russian church, 3 Jewish synagogues, 17 mosquen (including one belonging to the Sunna sect), 3 bazaars, and a number of caravanserais. The upper part of the town is supplied with water from a reservoir in the citadel, fed by a fountain in the mountain behind ; but the Dubar, or lower town along the shore, communicates by an aqueduct with the Rubas-Chai, a small river to the south. The environs are occupied by vineyards, gardens, and orchards, in which madder, saffron, and tobacco, as well as figs, peaches, pears, and other fruits are cultivated. The madder is a valu able export, and the saffron is in high repute. Earthen ware, weapons, and silk and cotton fabrics, are the principal products of the manufacturing industry. To the north of the town is the monument of the Kirk Lar, or Forty Heroes of Daghestan, whose valour is commemorated in Arabic in scriptions ; and to the south lies the seaward extremity of the great Derbend or Caucasian wall, otherwise known as S^dd-Eskender, or Alexander s wall, which, while still entire, had a height of 29 feet and a thickness of about 10, and with its iron gates and numerous watch-towers formed a valuable defence of the Persian frontier. Derbend is a place of great antiquity, and is usually identified with Albana, the capital of the ancient Albania. The modern name, which is the Persian word for a gateway, probably came into use about the end of the 5th or the beginning of the 6th century, when the city was re-founded by Kobod of the Sassanid dynasty. The walls and the citadel are believed to belong to the time of Kobod s son, Nushirvan Chosroes. In 728 the Arabs entered into possession, and established a khanate in the city, which they called either Bab-el-abwab, " the principal gate," Bab-el-Khadid, " the iron gate," or Seril-el-Dagab, "the golden throne." The celebrated caliph, Haroun-al-Rashid, lived in Derbend at different times, and brought it into great repute as a seat of arts and commerce. In 1220 it was captured by the Mongolians, and in the course of the succeeding centuries it frequently changed masters. In the reign of Feodor Ivanovitch, the Persian Government promised to make it over to Kussia in reward for assistance against the Turks, but the surrender was never completed. In 1722 Peter the Great took advantage of the disturbances in Persia, seized the town, established a garrison, and intrusted the govern ment to Imam Kuli-Beg; but in 1733 the supremacy of the Persian Nadir Shah was again recognized. Captured in 1760 by Fut AH Khan, and governed after his death by his brother Sheikh Ali, the town was in 1796 besieged by the Russians both by land and sea, and in 1813 formally incorporated by the treaty of Gulistan with the Russian empire. In 1831 it was vainly attacked by Kazi-mulL Population in 1873, 15,739.