Sofiero Castle was one of the Swedish royal family's country mansions. It was originally a Scanian farm called Skabelycke, bought in 1864 by Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden and his wife Sophia of Nassau. The first one-story palace was completed in 1865. It was expanded to its current size between 1874 and 1876, after crown prince Oscar had been crowned king Oscar II of Sweden and Norway.
In 1905, Oscar II's grandchild Prince Gustaf Adolf, future King Gustaf VI Adolf, and his wife, crown princess Margaret received the palace as a wedding gift. They renovated the palace and started the large Rhododendron garden for which the palace is known today. Prince Gustaf Adolf become king in 1950 and until 1973 Sofiero was his and his second wife Lady Louise Mountbatten's official summer residence. It was supposedly the King's favorite place and upon his death, which occurred in Helsingborg, he left Sofiero to the city of Helsingborg so that the general public could enjoy it as much as he had.
The main attraction today is the very large gardens with a wide range of local (and other) plant life, stretching to the shore of Oresund. The Rhododendrons are especially noteworthy, consisting of almost 500 different varieties. The park also holds a small collection of modern art. During the summer the large grass areas are sometimes used for large outdoor concerts with national as well as international stars. The castle itself is today used as restaurant, cafe and at times as a gallery.References:
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.