The written history of Laukko manor dates back to year 1416, but according the folklore the local chieftain Matti Kurki received it as a manor from the king of Sweden in the 13th century. The most famous of the medieval lords of Laukko was Klaus Kurki, the tragic hero of a ballad called The Death of Elina. In real life Klaus’s son Arvid became the last Bishop of Catholic Finland. At around the beginning of the 16th century the Kurcks had a stone castle built at Laukko as a symbol of their might and prosperity. The Kurki family owned Laukko until 1817. After that it has been owned by several families, for example famous industrialists Adolf Törngren and Rafael Haarla. Nowadays Laukko is a residence of the Lagerstam family.
The present neo-classic manor house was built in the 1930s. The estate reopened to the public in the summer of 2016, as the estate celebrates its 600th anniversary. For the first time, visitors can see the estate in its entire splendor. The visitors can now admire the main building’s unique collections of arts and antiquities and stroll in the estate’s vast gardens and grounds.
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 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.
In 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.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.