St Ib's Church (Sankt Ibs kirke or Ibsker) is a fine 12th century Romanesque building. The church was originally known as Beati Jacobi (1335), in 1429 it became Sancti Jacobs kirke (St Jacob's Church) and later evolved to Ibs Kirke (Ib being the familiar Scandinavian form of Jacob) which in turn became Ibsker (ker meaning church). Today the parish is officially known as Ibsker.
The church consists of a Romanesque tower, nave, choir and apsis, all from the end of the 12th century. The porch was added some 200 years later while the extension to the north was constructed in 1867. The tower is of interest in view of its vaulting which can be seen at the western end of the nave, opening up from two arches. The interior is a fine example of the Romanesque style with whitewashed walls and arches of limestone and Bornholm marble. The cross section added in 1867 changed the character of the building as the nave's original wall was torn down but the church's Romanesque appearance was partly restored in 1964 when a new organ was installed along the axis of the old wall. During the restoration work, traces of frescoes or kalkmalerier were found but were too faint to warrant further attention.
The altarpiece consists of a painting from 1846 of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane by the renowned Danish painter, C. W. Eckersberg. There is evidence of earlier altarpieces during the Roman Catholic period of the church's history, including the figure of the Virgin Mary, which now hangs over the font, and the crucifix on the nave's southern wall, both from around 1500. The altar's large candlesticks are from 1891 while its seven-armed cadelabra is from 1933. The oldest artefact inside the church is the font which is made of Gotland limestone. Standing at the western end of the church, it is in fact taller than it appears as its pedestal is hidden under the floor which, together with other layers of flooring, was added later. There are two bells in the tower, the smaller one from 1773 and the larger from 1822.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.