Vlatades Monastery was founded by the brothers Dorotheus and Markus Vlatadon, who were students of Gregory Palamas, in the latter half of the fourteenth century. It was first mention in a letter by Patriarch Matthew dated in 1400 to Metropolitan Gabriel of Thessalonica.
In 1387, Thessalonica and the monastery were occupied for the first time by the Ottoman Turks. While the monastic community held together, the monastery properties were sequestrated as royal property and the main church was converted into a mosque with the frescoes of its interior plastered cover. During the Turkish occupation a unit of Turkish troops, commanded by a cavus, was billeted at the monastery giving rise to the name Cavus Monastir, still often popularly applied to the monastery.
During the latter part of the sixteenth and most of the seventeenth centuries the condition of the Monastery of Vlatadon and its dependencies deteriorated. While supported by a succession of Patriarchs of Constantinople, the monks of the Monastery of Vlatadon attempted to recover and restructure their dependencies in Thessalonica.
By the mid-twentieth century the monastery became a meeting place for scholars and academics of the city. In 1965, the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies was established that has worked closely with the Aristotelean University of Thessalonica. In recent years the Monastery of the Vlatades has been further renovated and expanded.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.