Château de Sassy was built of stone and bricks in the 18th century. It has imposing four levels of terraces. The Duke d’Audiffret-Pasquier, ancestor of the present owners, bought Sassy in 1850 and converted the east wing into a library, in order to house the important Parisian collection of his uncle, the Chancellor Pasquier.
Visitors can admire a fine furniture, various Aubusson and Gobelins tapestries and in the Chapel a 15 century retable (historical monument) coming from St. Bavon abbey in Ghent (Belgium). The Formal Gardens, surrounded by a moat, have been designed by Achille Duchesne, inspired by Le Nôtre achievements. This architecture of greenery and stone can be admired from the castle or when strolling along the terraces. The perspective is closed by a charming orangery, framed by a canopy of pruned lime trees. The garden's box, yew, laurel and other slow-growing evergreen plants are impervious to the seasons and wind, remaining fixed in their timeless splendour. The classical unity of the setting took more than a century to be accomplished. The central part of the castle dates back to the 18th century, while the formal beds were created around 1925.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.