Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Altes Museum, completed in 1830, is one of the most important buildings of the Neoclassical era. The monumental arrangement of 18 Ionic fluted columns, the expansive atrium and sweeping staircase that invites visitors to ascend to the top, the rotunda adorned with Antique sculptures on all sides as a place to collect one’s thoughts and an explicit reference to Rome’s Pantheon: such signs of architectural refinement had previously only ever been seen in buildings designed for royalty and the nobility.
Today the museum houses the Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities), showcasing its permanent exhibition on the art and culture of the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans. The Münzkabinett complements this sweeping overview of classical antiquity with its display of ancient coins.
The Antikensammlung has a proud tradition spanning more than 350 years. Today, it is not only on show at the Altes Museum, it also has a special display integrated into the permanent exhibition of the Neues Museum, featuring the archaeology of Cyprus and the Roman provinces, and is a core component of the Pergamonmuseum, with its world-famous halls of Antique architecture. The main floor provides an impressive panorama of the art of ancient Greece from the 10th to 1st century BCE. The chronologically divided exhibition contains stone sculptures, vases, craft objects and jewellery in a richly diverse display structured around certain core themes. Highlights include the statue of the "Berlin goddess", the "praying boy", the "amphora of the Berlin painter" and the throned goddess from Taranto. Jewellery made of gold and silver, as well as cut gemstones form a veritable treasure vault beneath the blue firmament of Schinkel’s ceiling design. In a second "blue chamber", objects from the Münzkabinett are on display, in a selection of its most stunning pieces of ancient mintage. They range from the earliest coins from the 7th century BCE made of electrum (an alloy of gold and silver), up to coins from the Roman Empire’s crisis years in the late 3rd century CE. The more than 1300 coins on show form a body of ancient artefacts to be admired within themselves that also impressively corresponds to the art from the same epoch on display.
On the upper floor, the art and archaeology of the Etruscans and the Roman Empire are on view. The collection of Etruscan art is one of the largest anywhere in the world outside Italy; it contains such famous works as the house-shaped urns from Chiusi and the clay tablet from Capua. The collection of Roman art, meanwhile, unveils precious artefacts such as the Hildesheim silver find and portraits of Caesar and Cleopatra.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.