Schloss Beck is a Baroque castle in Bottrop, planned and built as a “maison de plaisance” between 1766 and 1777 by Johann Conrad Schlaun. It is currently run as an amusement park.
Although the building was designed as a palatial residence, by the end of the 18th century Beck Castle had become a distillery for schnaps. It came into the possession of the Metternich family around 1850.
Despite the Second World War the castle remained intact, and in 1958 the Hibernia Mining Society bought the property. However, Hibernia was only interested in the grounds, and offered the castle building to all interested parties for free. Because of the responsibility and the expense of maintaining it, nobody wanted to acquire it until 1966, when a certain Karl Kuchenbäcker bought it. Because of years of neglect, the castle had to be completely restored, and to provide money for the restoration Kuchenbäcker opened it to the public.
Following Kuchenbäcker's death (on 28 December 2004), his family put the castle and amusement park up for sale. It is now a protected historical monument.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.