The Krk Cathedral was built originally in the 5th or 6th century but archeological evidence suggests that the site was used by Christians as early as 4th century.
The cathedral is located beneath the Krk town hill. The first documented mention of the church dates from 1186. It is a three-nave early Christian basilica which is part of a larger complex, along with the Romanesque Church of Saint Quirinus (12th century), a bell tower (16th century), the Chapel of Saint Barbara, an early Christian baptistry and an apse. As common with other churches from the same period, it is oriented east/west, with its façade facing a street which goes through the town of Krk in the north/south direction.
During several archeological excavations between 1956 and 1963 the ruins of an ancient Roman thermae dating from 1st century were discovered. Remains of a hypocaust and a tepidarium with a preserved mosaic floor tiling were uncovered. Large mosaic pieces worn out of people walking over them were found, which suggest that the site may have been used for Christian masses as early as the 4th century, before the cathedral was built.
According to historical records right next to the former tepidarium a Chapel of Saint John the Baptist with a baptismal font was later built, which stood there until 1565. This implies that one of the pools of the thermae has been converted into a baptistry. Beneath the floor of the present-day Chapel of the Holy Heart of Jesus a barrel-like piscina for baptismal water was also found.
The cathedral's present-day Romanesque design was created in the 11th and 12th century, around at the same time when its existence was first documented in 1186. Above the fourth interior capital (when counting from the south side entrance) there is an inscription dedicating the church to Virgin Mary, as it marks the place where the early Christian basilica used to end.
This was confirmed by excavations in which foundations of the wall which closed the original basilica were found. Out of the two present-day rows of columns, the seven columns closer to the altar were originally within the old basilica. These columns were built out of stone and are not connected to capitels. Out of the total 14 columns, 12 of them feature Corinthian capitels, one is Classical and the one in the northern row closest to the altar features relief depictions of early Christian eucharist symbols, showing a fish being eaten by two birds (the fish is an early Christian symbol for Christ while the birds represent Christians; therefore the image represent eucharist in which believers 'feed' on Christ). Based on this and the ground plan of the basilica, Mohorović dated the time its construction to the latter half of the 5th century or some time in the early 6th century.
Over the course of centuries several chapels with altars were added next to the side walls of the church. Around 1450 John VII Frankopan had ordered construction of the Chapel of Saint Barbara, which has House of Frankopan coats of arms on its ceiling. In 1500 two Renaissance-style ambons were built, in 1538 the apse was extended, and then again in 1700 when the space for an organ and a choir was added. The sacristy is equipped with walnut wood furniture; a cupboard which covers the sacristy wall was made between 1697 and 1698, the 13 benches for canon were made in 1699 and a bishop's throne was added in 1717.
In addition to the cathedral the complex contains the Church of Saint Quirinus, the only early Christian two-story church in Croatia. The Romanesque-style church was built in front of the cathedral, out of locally mined white stone. Because of lack of space its apses face southwards and it features three semicircular apses with romanesque arcades on top. There is also the Church of Saint Margaret, dedicated to Margaret of Antioch, and a bell tower. As early Christian churches did not have bell towers, a wooden tower was added behind the sacristy at a later date. Since there was very little building space left by then, it was constructed right in front of the Church of Saint Quirinus in 1515. In 1765 it underwent a thorough restoration, and the upper part was redesigned. As part of the restoration a sculpture of an angel made in Venice was installed on top. Since then the bell tower was renovated several times, last time in 1973 when the present-day plastic angel replaced the original copper-coated wooden sculpture.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.