Pskov-Caves Monastery or Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery is a Russian Orthodox male monastery. It was founded in the mid-15th century, when the first hermits settled in local caves. The first cave Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos was built in 1473 (its modern facade was constructed in the 18th century).
After the monastery had been destroyed by the Livonian feudals, it was rebuilt by a Pskovian Mikhail Munekhin-Misyur in 1519. A posad (settlement) was built next to the monastery, which would later grow into a town. In 1550s-1560s, Pskovo-Pechorsky Monastery and its posad were surrounded by a wall with towers (eventually, these fortifications were rebuilt in 1701).
The monastery became an important outpost for defending the western border of Russia. In 1581–1582, it withstood the siege laid by Stefan Batory’s army. In 1611–1616, the monastery repelled the attack of the Polish army led by Jan Karol Chodkiewicz and Aleksander Józef Lisowski and Swedish army led by Gustav II Adolf.
Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery lost its importance after the Great Northern War of 1700–1721. In 1920–1944, Pskovo-Pechorsky Monastery belonged to Estonia. The monastery was one of the few acting male monasteries in the USSR, having been saved from destruction by Pechory being Estonian territory before World War II. In Soviet times, famous Russian mystic Sampson Sievers briefly lived and served in the monastery.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union the monastery has flourished. Currently the monastic community numbers over 90 who through their pastoral labors live the tradition of asceticism and eldership as witnessed recently by the Archimandrite John (Krestiankin). In 2013 the monastery marks the 540th anniversary of its existence.
Pskov-Caves Monastery is one of the rare Russian monasteries that hasn't been closed in any moment of its history even during World War II and Soviet regime. The monastery was in the centre of a controversy in 1995, when the leader of a Russian crime group was buried in the monastery caves, alongside the resting places of saintly monks.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.