Ellwangen Palace is a prominent landmark and a symbol of the town of Ellwangen.
Perched imperiously on a ridge overlooking the former monastery town of Ellwangen, the palace was first mentioned in historical records in 1266. Known as the abbots’ castle, the fortified structure provided a grand home to the abbots of the Benedictine monastery in Ellwangen. The old walls of the castle complex, dating back to the time of the Medieval Hohenstaufen dynasty, are still partly visible. However, in later years, Ellwangen’s prince-abbots altered, expanded and renovated their residence with astounding regularity.
Between 1603 and 1608, the palace was remodelled in Renaissance style, on the orders of Prince-Provost Johann Christoph I von Westerstetten. This design – a four-sided structure built on a trapezium-shaped floorplan, with towers in all four corners – still defines the appearance of the complex today. The Arkadenhof, a courtyard bounded by three stories of elegant arcaded balconies, is a remarkable architectural achievement.
After a fire a century later, the palace was renovated in the Baroque style. In addition to lavishly redecorated interiors, the new features included a double staircase, completed in 1726, a mansard roof on the main building, and the majestic Thronsaal (throne room).
In the early 19th century, many church territories were officially annexed by German states. As a result, Ellwangen Palace passed into the possession of the royal family of Württemberg. In 1815 and 1816, the banished king of Westphalia, Jérôme Bonaparte – a brother of Napoleon – and his wife Katharina, the daughter of the king of Württemberg, had some rooms refurbished prior to taking up residence.
Today, the palace provides an atmospheric setting for theatre performances, which take place here every year throughout the summer. The former rooms of the prince-provosts were converted into a museum in 1908. Both the Throne Room, which is often used for concerts due to its excellent acoustics, and the Tower Room provide a unique view of the town of Ellwangen.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.