The Tikhvin Assumption Monastery is a Russian Orthodox monastery founded in 1560. It hosts the icon of the Theotokos of Tikhvin, one of the most venerated Russian icons. According to the tradition, the icon of the Theotokos of Tikhvin was discovered in 1383 at the current location of the monastery. A wooden church was built to accommodate the icon. The consequent wooden churches burned to the ground three times, until in 1507 the construction of a stone church started by the order of Vasily III, the Grand Prince of Moscow. In 1560, the monastery was founded and built as a fortress, since at the time it was located close to the Swedish border, and could be used in the defense purposes. In 1610, during the Time of Troubles, the monastery was looted by Polish troops, and subsequently it was occupied by Swedish forces until 1613. In the 1920s, after the Russian Revolution, the monastery was closed, but the icon was still held there. After World War II, the Tikhvin Town Museum was organized in the monastery. In 1995, the monastery was transferred to Russian Orthodox Church.
In 1941, during World War II, for a month Tikhvin was occupied by German troops, who looted the monastery and, in particular, took the icon to Pskov, and in 1944 transferred it to Riga. The icon eventually was taken out of Russia for safety by a Russian Orthodox bishop from Kolka parish. In the period between 1949 and 2004 the icon was stored in Chicago. It was returned to the monastery in 2004.
The oldest building of the monastery is the Assumption Church, built between 1507 and 1515, before the monastery was founded.It is a five-dome church with three apses, typical for the 16th century Russian architecture. From three sides, the church is surrounded by covered galleries. The interior is covered by frescoes.
The refectory of the monastery dates from 1581 and contains a church. This is a massive two-story building. The belfry of the monastery has an unusual shape with a number of domes and was constructed in 1600. The cells were built in the end of the 17th century. The monastery has an approximately rectangular shape and is surrounded by the wall with towers.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.