Schloss Wolfegg is a Renaissance castle and the ancestral seat of the house of Waldburg-Wolfegg, which still owns it today. The main building of the castle consists of four wings arranged in the shape of a rectangle with towers in the corners. Its exterior design and layout dates back to Truchsess Jakob II. of Waldburg (1546–1589) and his wife Johanna (1548-1613). After a fire in 1578 destroyed an older building, they built a new castle. Parts of it however were destroyed in 1646, when Swedish troops under Carl Gustaf Wrangel ransacked the place near the end of the Thirty Years' War and laid fire to it.
Since the owner Maximilian Willibald of Waldburg-Wolfegg was short of funds, the restoration of the castle was delayed until 1651. From 1691 to 1700 the sculptor and plasterer Balthasar Kimmer of Wangen (1653–1702) redesigned the interior of the rooms with official and representative functions. In the 18th century some of the guest rooms were decorated in Rococo style. Towards the end of the 19th century the castle was extensively renovated again. The dining rooms received a new interior design and the castle's chapel was remodeled in a Neo-Gothic fashion.
Today the castle, which is still occupied by members of the Waldburg-Wolfegg family, is usually not accessible to the public. However once or twice a year public concerts are performed within the castle during which concert visitors can see some of the castle's inner room, in particular the Rittersaal (knights' hall). The Rittersaal is a large hall decorated in Baroque style featuring 24 life-sized wood sculptures and large ceiling mirrors. It is considered to be one of the most original room designs of the Baroque period in Germany. In addition to those rooms being used for concerts guided tours through other parts of the castle might be offered at that occasion.
The castle also hosts the Wolfegger Kabinett, a large collection of graphic art from the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance periods. In an edition of 1,000 issues the wall map of the world by the German cartographers Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann was printed in early 16th century, where the continent and the name America appeared for the first time, originally published in April 1507. On account of the stormy development of the cartography in this epoche these specimens were fast outstripped by more detailed editions, so that the original edition fell quickly out of use and all issues got lost over time.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.