Antvorskov was the principal Scandinavian monastery of the Roman Catholic Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. In 1165, Valdemar the Great, who was himself an honorary Knight of St John, gave the Order land at Antvorskov. The monastery was constructed soon thereafter, during the time of Archbishop Eskil. The mother monastery, on Rhodes, and a monastery on Cyprus were built to house pilgrims to the Holy Land. Daughter houses such as Antvorskov were to forward any profits from properties to the monastery on Rhodes. Over time, however, especially after the collapse of Crusader kingdoms in Palestine, the Order focused more on helping local people, especially those suffering from leprosy, which was not uncommon in mediaeval Europe.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, the monastery became one of Denmark's major landowners. Many persons nearing death and seeking to withdraw from the world into a quasi-religious life donated some or all of their goods to the monastery. Many families seeking heavenly rest for their kinsmen donated property to buy prayers in perpetuity for those deceased relatives, or to buy burial places inside the abbey church.
Despite the vast landholdings attached to the monastery, the central government of the Order on Rhodes (and, later, on Malta) often scolded Antvorskov for failing to send the required excess to the mother house. In time, Antvorskov came to own farms and land all over Denmark and as far south as Rűgen, where a daughter abbey at Maschenholt was established in 1435.
After the Reformation, the monastery complex became a royal residence. Frederik II died at Antvorskov in 1588. Frederik IV's wife was created Countess of Antvorskov, but upon her death the properties reverted to the crown. In 1717, the abbey became for a while a staging location for the Danish army, housing troops.
The abbey church was reopened for services in 1722, but the new owner, Finance Minister Koes, ordered the church to be pulled down and the materials used to rebuild his manor at Falkenstein. In 1774, lands at Anvorskov were broken into nine large estates, which passed into the hands of local noble families. In 1799, State Minister Bruun bought the remaining estate, divided it into four parcels, and sold them off.
The remnants of the monastic complex crumbled, visited by Danes and others as a picturesque reminder of the distant past; in his autobiography, Hans Christian Andersen, for example, mentions excursions to the ruins of the monastery. But by 1816, the last of the ancient buildings stood in hopeless disrepair and were torn down.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.