The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining.
Queen Elizabeth spends one week in residence at Holyrood Palace at the beginning of each summer, where she carries out a range of official engagements and ceremonies. The 16th century Historic Apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots and the State Apartments, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public throughout the year, except when members of the Royal Family are in residence.
The origins of the Palace of Holyroodhouse lie in the foundation of an Augustinian abbey in 1128 by David I (r.1124-53). From c.1195 to c.1230, extensive monastic buildings were added, including cloisters, a chapter house, a refectory and guest houses. The enlarged foundation prospered, and from an early date contained royal chambers for use by the sovereign.
James IV (r.1488-1513) decided to convert these chambers into a palace. Although virtually nothing survives today of the early Palace buildings, it appears that they were laid out around a quadrangle. Principal rooms, including the royal lodgings and the chapel, occupied the first floor, and a tower was added on the south side to provide extra accommodation for the sovereign. Work also began on the Palace gardens, and in 1507 a loch beside the Abbey was drained to provide additional space.
Further construction of the Palace took place during the reign of James V (r.1513-42). Work began in 1528 on a huge rectangular tower, rounded at the corners, to provide new royal lodgings at the north-west corner of the Palace. Equipped with a drawbridge and probably protected by a moat, the tower provided a high degree of security and is now the oldest part of the Palace surviving today. The west front of the Palace was rebuilt to house additional reception rooms. The elegant design incorporated a double-towered gateway, battlemented parapets, ornamental crestings and large windows with great expanses of glazing. The south side was remodelled and included a new chapel, the old chapel becoming the Council Chamber.
During the reign of James VI (r.1567-1625) extensive repairs to the Palace were carried out, and the gardens were enlarged and improved. Buildings that had originally been part of the Abbey were absorbed into the Palace, and ancillary buildings were erected outside the main courtyard for use by court officials. The Palace and Abbey were renovated further in 1633 for the Scottish coronation of James’s son, Charles I.
Charles II (r.1660-85) was restored to the throne in 1660, and Holyroodhouse once again became a royal palace. A full survey of the building was carried out in 1633 by the King’s Master Mason, John Mylne, and the re-building process began in earnest in 1671. By the end of 1674 the shells of the three main sides of the Palace and the new tower were virtually finished. Two years later the west front, which linked the towers, was completed. By 1679 the Palace had been re-constructed, largely in its present form.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.