Eskilstrup Church built in the Romanesque style dates from the 12th century. It is best known for its frescos, said to be Denmark's oldest. At the beginning of the 16th century, the church was owned by the bishopric under the administration of its seat at Sørup on Lolland. In 1694, it was annexed to Ønslev Church, 3 km to the west. After the Reformation it came under the Crown until 1767 when it was sold into private ownership. It was, however, soon reacquired by the State until 1852 when its was sold to the farmers of the parish. It gained full independence in 1933.
The church consists of a Late Romanesque apse, chancel and nave and a Gothic tower and porch, all built of brick. Pilaster strips decorate the corners of the nave and chancel. The apse and chancel have a rounded foundation base. There is a three-sided wall at the east end of the apse while there are round-arched windows in the side walls. The toothed cornice is decorated a saw-toothed trimming which runs along pilasters to the chancel gabel. The nave walls are similarly decorated with cornices and pilasters. The chancel windows resemble those of the apse but they have been extended downwards.
The apse's original vaulting develops from a polygonal base to a quarter dome terminating in the rounded apse arch. During the Gothic period, the chancel ceiling was cross-vaulted while the chancel arch was widened and given a pointed top. The nave has retained a flat ceiling. The red brick tower on a fieldstone base has flat arched windows to the south and west. It opens into the nave through a large irregular arch. The Renaissance altarpiece (1617) is rather a rough piece of rural craftmanship. The large cornice is borne by two Ionic columns. The central painting by Stefan Viggo Pedersen (1926) depicts the announcement of Jesus' birth to the shepherds. Designed by Jørgen Ringnis, the intricately carved pulpit (1639) is in the Auricular style. With the four Evangelists in shell-framed panels, it closely resembles the pulpit in Lolland's Ryde Church. The pilasters have however been renewed during rebuilding work in 1805 although the cherub heads and ornamental decorations have been retained. The hexagonal canopy bears a dove at the top and angels' heads on the corners. The pulpit, staircase and canope are varnished but not coloured.
In 1893, frescos were discovered in the apse and chancel, dating to the second half of the 13th century. The chancel fresco, restored by E. Lind in 1942, includes scenes from Christ's childhood including the Flight to Egypt depicting Joseph, Mary and the ass. They are said to be among the oldest in the region.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.