The Grand Ducal Palace is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and where he performs most of his duties as head of state of the Grand Duchy. The building was first the city hall of Luxembourg from 1572 to 1795, the seat of the prefecture of the Département des Forêts in 1795, and then the headquarters of the Luxembourg Government in 1817.
From 1817, the palace became the residence of the Governor, the representative of the Dutch Grand Dukes. As such, it was used by Prince Henry, during his time as Lieutenant-Representative of Luxembourg. The building's interior was renovated in 1883, in preparation of a visit by Grand Duke William III and his wife, Grand Duchess Emma.
With the accession of the House of Nassau-Weilburg in 1890, the palace was reserved exclusively for the Grand Duke and his family. Under Grand Duke Adolphe, it was comprehensively renovated and a new wing, containing family rooms and guest accommodation, was built by the Belgian architect Gédéon Bordiau and the Luxembourgian state architect, Charles Arendt.
During the German occupation in the Second World War, the Grand Ducal Palace was used by the Nazis as a concert hall and tavern. Extensive damage was done and much of the palace's furniture and art collections was ruined. With the return of Grand Duchess Charlotte from exile in 1945, the palace once again became the seat of the Grand Ducal Court.
Under the supervision of Charlotte, the palace was redecorated during the 1960s. It was thoroughly restored between 1991 and 1996. The interior of the Palace has been regularly renovated to match modern tastes and standards of comfort.
From 1945 to 1966 the Grand Ducal Guard mounted ceremonial guard duties at the palace. From 1966 to today soldiers of the military of Luxembourg perform guard duties.
As the official residence of the Grand Duke, the palace is used by him in the exercise of his official functions. He and the Grand Duchess, together with their staff, have their offices at the palace, and the state rooms on the first floor are used for a variety of meetings and audiences. On Christmas Eve, the Grand Duke's Christmas message is broadcast from the Yellow Room.
Foreign heads of state are accommodated at the palace, as guests of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, during official visits to Luxembourg, and the Ballroom is the setting for state banquets in their honour. Throughout the year, numerous other receptions take place at the palace, such as the New Year's reception given for members of the Government and the Chamber of Deputies.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.