Belweder Palace is today the residence of President of the Republic of Poland. The present building is the latest of several that stood on the site since 1660. Belweder once belonged to Poland's last king, Stanisław August Poniatowski, who used it as a porcelain-manufacturing plant. From 1818 it was the residence of Russian Grand Duke Constantine, who fled it at the beginning of the November 1830 Uprising.
After the re-establishment of Poland's independence following World War I, it was the residence of Marshal Józef Piłsudski, Chief of State (1918–22) and later (1926–35) Minister of Military Affairs of Poland, who died there in 1935. (During the May 1926 coup d'état, President Stanisław Wojciechowski had abandoned it ahead of Piłsudski's advancing forces).
During World War II, the building was extensively remodeled for Ludwig Fischer, Governor of occupied Warsaw in the 'General Government' of Poland. It remains one of the few original structures in Warsaw to survive World War II.
In 1945-1952 it was the residence of Bolesław Bierut, and later of the president of the Council of State. From 1989 to July 1994, it was the official residence of Poland's president, but proved too small for that purpose.
Protection of the Belweder Palace by the Government Protection Bureau (Biuro Ochrony Rządu, abbreviated BOR) was difficult, as the palace is located on a hill that shares a fence with the popular Łazienki Park, located below, a major tourist attraction. For security reasons, the park has had to be partly closed during visits by foreign heads of state to the Belweder. Due to the size of Łazienki Park, this has proven difficult and time-consuming, and the Polish press has mocked Secret Service agents checking the bushes and disturbing the Park's peacocks.
Belweder is normally used by the President and the government for ceremonial purposes, while the President resides at the 'Presidential Palace' in the city center. It also serves as an official residence for heads of state on official visits to Poland and other important guests. There have been plans to turn the Belweder Palace into a museum dedicated to Józef Piłsudski. Currently it houses a small exhibition devoted to the Marshal. However, the current president of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, has chosen to make Belweder his official residence.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.