The history of Puurmani Manor (in German: Schloß Talkhof) dates back to the Middle Ages when a castle of the Order was located here. It was a residence of the Vogt of the Order. The castle was built to protect the crossing point of River Pedja and the main road between Tartu and Tallinn.
Later the place of the former castle was turned into a manor. The Estonian name of the estate stems from the Buhrmeister family, who were the owners in the Swedish times after having been given the manor in 1645 by Queen Kristina. By 1919, the year of expropriation, the estate was owned by the aristocratic von Manteuffel family.
The present neo-Renaissance styled main building was built by Ernst von Manteuffel in 1860’s. One of the palace's frontal corners is emphasized by a five-floored octagonal tower. Both the tower and the facade of the building are richly decorated. In the interior design Neo-Renaissance is combined with Neo-Baroque.
The Puurmani park and estate complex is under national protection. More than 50 species of trees and bushes can be found in the well organized park, which is divided into two parts. The front of the manor is arranged symmetrically according to the French style. The part behind the building exhibits the English style with its informal landscape gardening. Linden alleys and red brick fences also enhance the beauty of the park.
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.