Wallenstein palace is the first large secular palace of the Baroque era. The original Palace was built in years 1623-1630 by Albrecht von Wallenstein, Duke of Mecklenburg (1583-1634), who made his name and fortune as the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial forces in the Thirty Years War. Emperor Ferdinand II feared Albrecht of Wallenstein’s calculating mind and had him assassinated in 1634 in the town of Eger (now Cheb). He lived in the palace for only a year before his death. His widow sold it to his nephew and it remained in the Wallenstein family until 1945. After the Second World War, the palace became Czechoslovak state property and was renovated to house government offices. Today, the Senate of the Czech Republic operates out of the main palace buildings. The Riding School is used as a branch of the National Gallery in Prague. The challenging restoration of the main building began in mid-1999. The most valuable parts of this building in historical and artistic terms are the Main Hall, the Knights' Hall, the Antechamber, the Audience Hall and the Mythological and Astronomical Corridors.
The main wing of Wallenstein palace was largely a reconstruction of the Trcka residence. It incorporates both late renaissance and Nordic mannerism which is expressed in the portals and Netherlandish dormer-windows. Initially, in keeping with the architectural style, the Main Hall was decorated with tapestries and furniture ordered from Italy and the Netherlands. Much of the original furnishings were looted either in 1648 by the Swedes or 1742 by the French.
The west wing of the complex hosts the Main Hall, that rises to the height of two stories. The Duke is depicted, in the middle ceiling fresco as the god of war, Mars, riding in a war chariot drawn by a team of horses. In the painting, the Duke is holding the reins of four horses while Mars is usually seen only holding three horses. The stucco work depicting weapons, war trophies and musical instruments were probably made by Santino Galli and Domenico Canevalle. When the wing was built, it was the second largest hall after the Spanish hall of Prague Castle with an area of 288 meters squared and a height of 10.5 meters. This is original façade was altered in the mid nineteenth century to include marble portals from the Cerninsky palace and the entire hall was rebuilt as a barracks.
Originally tile stoves placed in each room heated the palace. The tile in the Antechamber was used later to line the fireplace. Guests waited in the antechamber to be granted audience with the Duke. Due to an adaptation in the 19th century, it is a kind of Mirror Hall with two Venetian mirrors made in the 18th century on the Italian island of Murano. The only objects original to the room are a set of four chests used by the Duke to hold his wardrobe. They are Italian chests made around the turn of the 17th century.
The palace chapel is two stories high and richly decorated with scenes from the legend of St Wenceslas. Cabinet-maker and woodcarver Arnošt Jan Heidelberger constructed the chapel altar in 1630. Its construction marked the first Baroque monument of its kind in Prague and the beginning of the Baroque age in the Czech lands.
The garden was created at the same time as the Wallenstein Palace in the early 17th century, in the lower part of the Malá Strana District. It displays a fine example of Mannerist layout and decoration, with very diverse sections. It is dominated by an aisle lined with bronze sculptures, an impressive Sala Terrena and an amazing artificial grotto.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.