The Château de Flaugergues is one of many follies erected by wealthy merchants surrounding the city. The castle preserves antique furniture and collection of Flemish tapestries.
The follies in the region were constructed by aristocrats serving the French king. In 1696, Etienne de Flaugergues, member of the Cour des Comptes, bought a piece of land and built which henceforth carried his name. It took him 45 years to give the existing house its current appearance. From then on, Flaugergues became an example for the various other follies constructed by wealthy merchants surrounding Montpellier.
In 1811, the Boussairolles family bought the estate, and Charles Joseph de Boussairoles designed the orangerie and the park in English garden style in 1850. Inherited by generations of nobles, it still gives an idea of the life of the French nobility in the 17th century.
It is not so much the building itself as the use that is made of the area surrounding it that makes Flaugergues interesting architecturally speaking. The architect is not known, but it is certain that there have been multiple people working on the estate between 1696 and 1730. Much use is made of the difference in terrain level, creating separate spaces within the garden and making the mansion look grander than it in fact is.
The façade is cut in half by a doorway with Doric pilasters, carrying an entablature with rose sculpted metopes. The different levels of the house are emphasized by bands, which was fashionable in the 17th century. The large windows give the first level an air of importance, while the back wall of the building is almost blind.
The most striking part of Flaugergues is the interior, with the staircase taking up almost one-third of it. Every floor is served by this staircase with its characteristic hanging key vaults and forged iron banisters.
Since Roman times, vines have been grown on this spot. A descendant of Jean-Baptiste Colbert now produces the Flaugergues wine.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.