Bruchsal Palace (Schloss Bruchsal) is the only Prince-Bishop’s residence on the Upper Rhine. It is famous for its opulent Baroque staircase constructed by Balthasar Neumann. Bruchsal Palace was constructed in 1720 as a residence for the Prince-Bishops of Speyer. The then Prince-Bishop, Damian Hugo von Schönborn, an avid art collector, played an important role in planning the complex. The three-wing palace is built of sandstone. The collection of exquisitely matched buildings, along with the carefully laid out garden, make up an extraordinarily beautiful ensemble.
Visitors entering Bruchsal Palace’s cour d'honneur (three-sided grand courtyard) are greeted with a splendid and colourful sight. The buildings are lavishly painted, decorated with gold-plated stucco, and feature golden gargoyles in the shape of dragons. Construction of the famous staircase by Balthasar Neumann began in 1728. This stunning architectural masterpiece is unsurpassed in terms of its unique style and the poetry of its design. Franz Christoph von Hutten, who resided in the palace after Schönborn, made his mark by decorating the Fürstensaal (Prince’s hall), Marmorsaal (marble hall) and the exquisite Paradezimmer (grand rooms).
The palace complex was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War. Fortunately, the structure of the staircase was mostly preserved. The palace complex’s reconstruction was one of Baden-Württemberg’s most impressive projects of this kind. Today, Bruchsal Palace is more than a breathtaking example of Baroque architecture – it is also the outstanding result of carefully-planned, highly historically accurate reconstruction work.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.