The Royal Palace of Gödöllő is one of the most important, largest monuments of Hungarian palace architecture. Its builder, Count Antal Grassalkovich I (1694–1771) was a typical figure of the regrouping Hungarian aristocracy of the 18th century. He was a Royal Septemvir, president of the Hungarian Chamber, and confidant of Empress Maria Theresa (1740–1780). The construction began around 1733, under the direction of András Mayerhoffer (1690–1771) a famous builder from Salzburg who worked in Baroque and Zopf style.
The palace has a double U shape, and is surrounded by an enormous park. The building underwent several enlargements and modifications during the 18th century; its present shape being established in the time of the third generation of the Grassalkovich family. By then the building had 8 wings, and - besides the residential part - it contained a church, a theatre, a riding-hall, a hothouse, a greenhouse for flowers and an orangery.
After the male side of the Grassalkovich family died out in 1841, the palace had several owners, and in 1867 it was bought for the crown. The decision of parliament designated it the resting residence of the King of Hungary. This state lasted until 1918, thus Francis Joseph (1867–1916) and later Charles IV and the royal family spent several months in Gödöllő every year.
During this period the palace became the symbol of independent Hungarian statehood, and, as a residential centre it had a political significance of it own. It was Queen Elisabeth (1837–1898) who specially loved staying in Gödöllő, where the Hungarian personnel and neighbourhood of the palace always warmly welcomed her. She was able to converse fluently in Hungarian. Following her tragic death, a memorial park adjoining the upper-garden was built.
The period of the royal decades also brought their enlargements and modifications. The suites were made more comfortable, and a marble stable and coach house were built. The riding hall was remodelled.
Between the two world wars the palace served as the residence for Regent Miklós Horthy. No significant building took place during this period, apart from an air-raid shelter in the southern front garden. After 1945 the palace, like many other buildings in Hungary, fell into decay.
Soviet and Hungarian troops used the building, some of the beautifully decorated rooms were used for an old people's home, and the park was divided into smaller plots of land.
The protection of the palace as a historical monument started in 1981, when the National Board for Monuments launched its palace project. The most important tasks of preservation began in 1986 and were completed in the end of 1991. During this time the palace was partly emptied. By 1990 the Soviet troops left the southern wing, then the old people's home was closed down.
During this time the roof of the riding-hall and the stable-wing was reconstructed, the façade of the building was renovated, as well as the trussing of the central wings and the double cupola. Research was carried out in the archives and in the building, and thus the different building periods of the monument were defined. Painted walls and rooms were uncovered which revealed the splendour of the 18-19th centuries. Architectural structures were discovered, and so were the different structures of the park.
The utilisation of the main front wings of the palace was designed as a clear and well-developed architectural project. The first floor's 23 rooms (nearly 1000 sq. m.) accommodate the interior exhibition. The emphasis was laid on the revival of the atmosphere of the royal period and the introduction of the time of the Grassalkovich family.
Reconstruction is the principle of the interiors completed so far creating the state as it was around the 1880s. One of the most striking features of the Empress Elisabeth Exhibition is its historical accuracy.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.