The Ducal Palace of Nancy was built in the 15th century for René II, Duke of Lorraine. In the 18th century the palace was extended by Baroque architects. Under the rule of Leopold, Duke of Lorraine parts of the building were pulled down, in preparation of greater projects, he intended. After the House of Habsburg had ceded Lorraine to French control in exchange for Tuscany, the ducal palace in Nancy became the home of Stanislaw Leszczynski. After Stanislaw's death, his Duchy was inherited by his son-in-law, King Louis XV of France and incorporated in his dominions.
The palace used to have St George's Collegiate Church, which was the house chapel and also the burial place of members of the house of Lorraine. The chapel does not exist anymore. The functions of the house chapel was then given to the Church of Saint-François-des-Cordeliers, which is located next to the palace.
The first level of the structure contains reception and dining rooms used by the Dukes, known as the Galerie des Cerfs. On the ground floor, there is an open-vaulted gallery overlooking the garden, while a portal marks the Grande Rue entrance. Also built in Gothic style, its décor suggests that it is one of the earliest examples of work from the Renaissance period in nowaday's eastern France.
In 1848 the palace was converted to house the Musée Lorrain. The museum's collections include artefacts from the Gallo-Roman and Merovingian civilisations of the east of France, religious and funeral sculptures and stained-glass windows from the Medieval period, as well as armaments from the 14th and 15th centuries. The museum also includes a collection of Renaissance art including works by Ligier Richier and sculptures relating to the history of the Palace itself, as well as of major works by Georges de La Tour and Jacques Callot, and a rare collection of Jewish ritual objects.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.