Duchcov palace houses a museum with a collection of historic furniture. Also on display is the painting and portrait gallery of the Waldsteins, including portraits of the most famous member of this family, Albrecht von Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland, by Anthony van Dyck. One room is dedicated to Giacomo Casanova, who was employed here as a librarian from 1785 to 1798, and his memoirs were written here in the years before his death in 1798.
The château was founded as a fort in the 13th century by the Hrabišic family, which resided at the Osek Castle. Not earlier than 1527, the Lobkowicz family replaced the fort with a one-wing Renaissance palace. Marie Polyxena of Thalmberg, the widow of František Josef of Lobkowicz, married secondly Maximillian, Count of Waldstein in 1642. Their son Jan Bedřich, Count of Waldstein, later the Archbishop of Prague, was apprised with the French architect and painter Jean Baptiste Mathey, and he brought him to Duchcov for the purpose of rebuilding the residence. The château was incorporated in the Waldstein's family fideicommis and passed on through inheritance to Ernst Joseph Count Waldstein and to his descendants until it was nationalised in 1945.
Mathey designed a huge Baroque complex, including a large park and a hospital. The decoration of the building was provided by the best Baroque artists in Bohemia, like the sculptors Matyáš Bernard Braun, Ferdinand Maxmilián Brokoff, and painter Václav Vavřinec Reiner. Between 1785 and 1798, Giacomo Casanova, the so-called secretary of the 18th century, spent the last thirteen years of his amazing life in Duchcov.
In the 19th century, the château was rebuilt in the classicist style and the garden in the romantic style. The Waldstein family left the place in 1921. At present, the château is state-owned and open to visitors.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.