Krásný Dvůr is a Baroque palace with English-style landscape park and a garden inspired by that of Versailles. The first records of Krasný Dvůr date back to the 14th century, since then numerous aristocratic families held possession of it until Count Hermann Czernin von und zu Chudenitz bought it in the middle of the 17th century. Count Franz Josef Czernin von und zu Chudenitz decided to start an extensive reconstruction on a Renaissance villa built on the site of a Gothic stronghold originally constructed by Jan Maštovský of Kolovraty at the end of the 16th century.
The reconstruction project was undertaken by well-known Czech architect František Maxmilián Kaňka and was distinctly influenced by the French architecture; construction went on between 1720 and 1724. Some alterations of Chateau buildings were made at the end of the 18th century; in 1783 the chapel was erected, in 1791–92 two-pair staircases were built in the court and in the northern garden and ground arcades were walled at the same time.
Eighteen rooms and lobby galleries are open to the public. Excellent and very valuable paintings of Czech and European artists are installed here (some of the most well-known being Petr Brandl, Karel Škréta, Ludvík Kohl, Josef Bergler, Filip Kristian Benthum, Kristian Brand, Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and a number of others), and a number of graphic arts, porcelain, china, glass, earthenware, clocks, original Adam fireplaces, furniture and other samples of historical craftsmen's skills are to be seen. Some thematic collections are also remarkable (e.g. an extensive Baroque pictorial anthology of dog-portrayals by artist Petr Václav.
The park in Krásný Dvůr, the area of which amounts to 1.0 km2, was founded in 1783–1793 by Johann Rudolf Czernin von und zu Chudenitz. He was influenced partly by his botanic inclinations and then also by his journey around Western Europe, which he undertook in 1779. In those days a new park trend had begun expanding into Europe from England. Natural scenery was to be brought into the very neighbourhood of buildings according to this trend. The principle of the landscape park is based directly on the condition of a natural landscape, not an artificially man-made one. The Chateau Park on Krásný Dvůr is true evidence of this school of thought. In accordance with taste of those days it was brightened with a number of Romantic buildings enriching vacant fields or closing various vistas of park scenes.
From the dendrological point of view you can find more than one hundred species of trees in the park, and entirely domestic or domesticated species only. A number of ancient oaks, beeches, limes, horse chestnuts, plane trees, maples and alders grow there. The most important of them is the so-called Goethe's oak (today already only a torso), the age of which is estimated at 1,000 years, which ranks it among the oldest trees in the Czech Republic. Deeper in the park we find Pan's-Temple, the Obelisk, the Vantage Pavilion, Goethe's Pavilion, a memorial plaque with the engraved names of important people who have visited the park, a hermitage, a grotto with a sarcophagus and other interesting objects. The so-called French garden, situated behind the eastern part of the Chateau, is also of note. Its parterre is solved with a pond and grassy areas, which are embellished with large yew-trees and smaller box-trees.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.