The Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini is a villa with notable 19th-century park in the English romantic style and a small botanical garden. The park and botanical garden are open daily.
The estate was begun in the late 17th century by Clelia Durazzo Grimaldi, who established the Giardino botanico Clelia Durazzo Grimaldi at that time. Today's remarkable park was created by her nephew Ignazio Alessandro Pallavicini after he inherited the property.
The park was designed by Michele Canzio, set designer for the Teatro Carlo Felice, and built between 1840 and 1846. It covers some 97,000 m² of hillside behind the villa. Although recognizably in the English romantic style, the garden is highly theatric, to the point of being organized as a series of scenes forming a play with prologue and three acts (Return to Nature, Memory, Purification). Structures and statues through the garden form focal points to this libretto.
When the park opened in September 1846, on the occasion of the VIII Congresso degli Scienziati Italiani, it quickly gained national fame. In 1928 its current owner, Matilde Gustinani, donated both park and botanical garden to Genoa for use as a public park. Through the remainder of the 20th century, the garden fell into some disrepair, and indeed was threatened in 1972 by construction of a nearby highway. Its restoration began in 1991, however, in honor of Columbus' discovery of America. As of 2006 about half of the park is open for visitors.
In 2017 the park was elected the most beautiful garden in Italy.
The park contains two ponds, a dozen notable structures, various statues, and an extensive grotto. The grotto represents a Dantesque Inferno, with walkways and subterranean lake through which the visitor may ascend to Paradise. In former years, visitors could explore the grotto by boat. Structures include a Coffee House in the shape of triumphal arch, Rustic House, Madonna's Chapel, Mausoleum of the Captain, Temple of Diana, Flower House, Turkish Temple, Obelisk, and Chinese Pagoda.
The park also contains a number of plantings of botanical interest, including mature specimens of Araucaria bidwilli, Cedrus libani, Cinnamomum camphora, Jubaea chilensis, Notelaea excelsa, Firmiana simplex, Quercus suber, Podocarpus macrophillus, lots of extotic palms and a wonderful stand of some 160 Camellia japonica.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.