The oldest parts of the Medelplana church date from the 1100s, with the tower added in the 1300s and the choir and armory coming later. At one time the church may have been dedicated to St. Helena (Elin) of Skövde and Götene. What is believed to be St. Helena's altar is currently the baptismal altar. In the village as it was in the middle ages, there was also a St. Helena's spring, which was later excavated and restored. It is situated by the road just north of the church.
Inside the south door stand two well-preserved lily stones from the 1100s. A gap where stairs used to be is on the church's north side, and an old box for contributions to the poor also is found there.
In 1611 the Danes were devastating the area, and among other deeds they burned the town of Skara. In Medelplana there was a pastor by the name of Jonas Andersson Grodt, and when he heard stories about how the Danes were causing havoc, he collected his own silver items and presumably the church's silver collection. According to a registry drawn up prior to the disappearance, the collection consisted of two silver goblets and a box made of silver for consecration wafers. He went off to the east from the parsonage in Medelplana, away to a little brook that flowed past the pastor's cottage at Kollängen. There he dug down and buried all the silver, so as to hide it from the Danes if they should come. Grodt died almost immediately thereafter, without revealing where he had hidden the silver treasure.
Many people have searched the treasury, but until now no one has found it. It is also thought that it may have been found and perhaps melted down, or that the entire story is a fabrication. The legend-encrusted silver treasure still sits brooding on its secret. It may be that some time in the future it will be discovered.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.