Mirabell Palace with its gardens is part of the Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace was built about 1606 on the shore of the Salzach river north of the medieval city walls, at the behest of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau. The Archbishop suffered from gout and had a stroke the year before; to evade the narrow streets of the city, he decided to erect a pleasure palace for him and his mistress Salome Alt. Allegedly built within six months according to Italian and French models, it was initially named Altenau Castle.
When Raitenau was deposed and arrested at Hohensalzburg Castle in 1612, his successor Mark Sittich von Hohenems expelled Salome Alt and her family from the premises. Mark Sittich gave the palace its current name from Italian word mirabile ('amazing'). It was rebuilt in a lavish Baroque style from 1721 to 1727, according to plans designed by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt.
On 1 June 1815 the later King Otto of Greece was born here, while his father, the Wittelsbach crown prince Ludwig I of Bavaria served as stadtholder in the former Electorate of Salzburg. The current Neoclassical appearance dates from about 1818, when the place was restored after a blaze. Archbishop Maximilian Joseph von Tarnóczy resided here from 1851 to 1863. The father of Hans Makart worked here as a chamberlain. Joachim Haspinger (1776-1858), Capuchin priest and a leader of the Tyrolean Rebellion, spent his last year in a small flat.
The palace was purchased by the City of Salzburg in 1866. After World War II it was temporarily used for the mayor's office and housed several departments of the municipal administration.
The Marble Hall of Mirabell Palace is the venue of the Salzburg Palace Concerts, directed by Luz Leskowitz. It is also a popular location for weddings.
The Mirabellgarten was laid out under Prince-Archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun from 1687 according to plans designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. In its geometrically-arranged gardens are mythology-themed statues dating from 1730 and four groups of sculpture, created by Italian sculptor Ottavio Mosto from 1690. It is noted for its boxwood layouts, including a sylvan theater designed between 1704 and 1718. An orangery was added in 1725.
The gardens were made accessible to the public under Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. Up to today, it is one of the most popular tourists' attraction in Salzburg. Several scenes from The Sound of Music were filmed here.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.