Prangins Castle is home to one part of the Swiss National Museum. At Prangins, the displays focus mainly on daily life in the castle and the region. There are also displays relating to Swiss history, as well as temporary exhibitions and cultural events. There is a café, serving drinks, snacks and lunch. The terrace has views of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
Prangins Castle has been a seat of power for centuries. The first record of the domain is from 1096. The current building dates from 1732, and has been extensively restored and furnished in the original style. The gardens are particularly unusual as they include an extensive sunken kitchen garden which has been replanted to match its original 18th century organisation.
An earlier building on the site was destroyed in 1293 by the Dukes of Savoy. It was rebuilt and changed hands repeatedly over the coming centuries. Nicholas de Diesbach enlarged the property in 1613. His family ceded the property to Emilie de Nassau in 1627. The demesne was sold in 1656.
It was sold again in 1719, this time to Jean Rieu, a Genevan citizen and a Paris banker. Four years later, in 1723, he passed it on to another Paris banker, Louis Guiguer who built the palace you see today. The building on the site was probably close to a ruin.
The castle was inherited by Guiger's nephew, Jean-George. He gave Voltaire, who was then exiled from France, the use of the property. In 1755 Jean-George Guiguer came to live at Prangins. He commissioned the temple and improved the gardens. After his death, Prangins passed to his son, Louis-François Guiguer de Prangins. Starting in 1771, Louis-François kept a journal detailing the daily life of the region. Over the following 15 years, he filled 7 volumes. His writings form a key part of the current museum offering.
His son and heir, Charles-Jules, became a general in the Swiss army. In 1814, he sold the castle to Joseph Bonaparte, the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. From 1873 to 1920, the castle was used as a school by the Frères Moraves, a Protestant monastic order.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.