Hermesvilla is a palace and a former hunting area for the Habsburg nobility. Emperor Franz Joseph decided to build the Villa Hermés in the summer of 1881. Ostensibly, the Emperor hoped it would encourage his wife, who traveled widely, to remain in Vienna. It was designed by architect Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer, and construction lasted 1882 until 1886. The Empress herself commissioned the sculptor Ernst Herter from Berlin to create the sculpture, titled Hermés der Wächter and instructed that it was to be placed in the garden of the villa.
In 1886, the villa, and all surrounding buildings, including riding facilities and stables for the horses of Empress Elisabeth, were finished. From 1887 until her assassination in 1898, the imperial couple regularly spent time there every year in late spring, varying from a few days to a couple of weeks.
The street leading to the Villa was one of the first streets in Vienna with electric lighting, and the Villa was one of the first buildings in Vienna with a telephone connection.
During the post-WWII Russian occupation of Vienna from 1945-1955, the Villa was looted by the Soviets, became run down and remained in poor condition for a number of years. However, in 1963, the Disney movie 'Miracle of the White Stallions' brought back the interest in the building. This led to a private initiative that motivated the Austrian authorities to renovate the Villa, and the renovation process lasted from 1968 until 1974.
The stables, originally built for the horses of the Empress, are located in the left wing of the courtyard. The original stable equipment, including the wall partitions for the box stalls and tie stalls, still exist today to a large extent.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.