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:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.