Sterckshof castle houses the silver museum of the Province of Antwerp. Built on the site of a much older castle, or great house, the present building is a reconstruction erected in the 1920s.
From the 13th century the site of the castle was occupied by the fortified farmhouse, surrounded by a moat. It was probably used to defend a nearby wooden bridge over the Grote Schijn River. In 1523 it was described as a farm with a house, brewery, moat, ponds, fishery, etc. That year it purchased by Gerard Sterck, who erected up picturesque buildings with a castle, towers and turrets, and called it Sterckhof, a name it retains today. Sterck was a merchant, banker and secret adviser of the Emperor Charles V. Another owner, Jacob Edelheer, furnished the castle with art collections and scientific collections.
Unlike other castles in Antwerp, the Sterckshof was not destroyed during the wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, but it was neglected during a dispute between the heirs after the owner, Jacob van Lemens, died childless in 1664. From 1693 Sterckshof was owned by the Jesuits of Lier, but the castle was damaged or allowed to deteriorate during the war of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). After the dissolution of the Jesuit Order, the estate was sold in 1776 to the banker Jan Baptist Cogels, who merged it with his Ter Rivieren estate. By the 1880s the buildings, long uninhabited, were no more than ruins.
In 1921 the Province of Antwerp bought the Ter Rivieren estate, with the Sterckshof castle, to make it into the current Rivierenhof park. Of the Sterckshof all that was standing was the floor of a tower, the entrance gate and some ramshackle outbuildings. In 1922 the architect JA Van der Gucht submitted plans for reconstruction. Using old pictures and archaeological discoveries, in the 1930s the building rose as an evocative reconstruction. The reconstructed building with its red brick turrets and courtyards is set in formal gardens surrounded by a moat, conveying an impression of the houses of the wealthy in the 16th century.
The municipality of Deurne declined to use the building for their town hall. In 1926 the idea of using it for the province's technical department was explored but rejected since the building was not suitable. The idea of using it for a dairy was also rejected. Eventually, in 1934 an Association was founded to established a Museum of Flemish Civilization. The Sterckshof was transferred to the association on 21 May 1938 and it was immediately opened to the public. Joseph De Beer, the honorary curator, moved into the house and began acquiring what became a huge and disparate collection of archaeological, natural history, ethnology and art and crafts objects.
From 1951 the state began funding the museum. When De Beer died in February 1953 the original association was liquidated and the castle was taken over by the Province of Antwerp. At first it housed the Province's Sterckshof Museum of Art Crafts, and later the Province's Sterckshof Silver Museum. As of 2012 the museum was open every day except Mondays, with free admission apart from when a special exhibition was being run. The displays covered techniques for working the metal and domestic and religious uses. It also included a silversmith's workshop. The museum includes Belgian silver and pewter wares from the 16th century until today, and also some fine antique furnishings.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.