Rouen Cathedral is an imposing sample of Gothic architecture. The first cathedral was built in 396 by Bishop Victricius. This was destroyed by the invading Normans, who replaced it with a larger cathedral with a wooden vault. Consecrated in 1063 in the presence of William the Conqueror, all that remains of this building is the crypt beneath the choir. Rouen Cathedral was rebuilt in 1145 by Bishop Hugues d'Amiens based on the new Gothic style he admired at Saint-Denis Basilica in Paris. After devastating fire in 1200 destroyed all but the nave arcades, the Saint-Romain tower and the left portal, reconstruction began immediately. The choir and remainder of the cathedral were built in the more mature Gothic style of the 13th century, completed around 1250.
The new Lady chapel was built in 1360. The spire was blown down in 1353, choir windows were enlarged in 1430, the upper storey of the north-west tower was added in 1477, gable of the north transept built in 1478. Some more were built in the Late gothic style, these include the last storey of Saint Romain's tower (15th century), butter tower, main porch of the front and the two storeys of the lantern tower (16th century). Construction of the south-west tower began in 1485 and was built in 1507. The Butter Tower was erected in the early 16th century. The reconstruction of the central portal and the west front begun in 1509 and finished in 1530.
The original gothic spire suffered a fire in 1514, nevertheless the project of a stone spire was denied and a wooden construction covered with gold-plated plumb was begun in 1515, a parapet was added in 1580. In the late 16th century the cathedral was badly damaged during the French Wars of Religion: the Calvinists damaged much of the furniture, tombs, stained-glass windows and statuary. The cathedral was again struck by lightning in 1625 and 1642, then damaged by a hurricane in 1683, the wood-work of the choir burnt in 1727 and the bell broke in 1786.
In the 18th century, the state (government) nationalized the building and sold some of its furniture and statues to make money and the chapel fences were melted down to make guns to support the wars of the French Republic.The Renaissance spire was destroyed by lightning in 1822. The cathedral was named the tallest building (the lantern tower with the cast iron spire of the 19th century) in the world (151 m) from 1876 to 1880. In the 20th century, during World War II, the cathedral was bombed in April 1944. Seven bombs fell on the building, narrowly missing destroying a key pillar of the lantern tower, but damaging much of the south aisle and destroying two rose windows. One of the bombs did not explode. A second bombing (before the Normandy Landings in June 1944) burned the oldest tower, called the North Tower. During the fire the bells melted, leaving molten remains on the floor. In 1999, during a violent wind storm, a copper-clad wooden turret, which weighed 26 tons, fell into the church and damaged the choir.
Rouen Cathedral contains a tomb of Richard the Lionheart which contained his heart. His bowels were probably buried within the church of the Chateau of Châlus-Chabrol in the Limousin. It was from the walls of the Chateau of Châlus-Chabrol that the crossbow bolt was fired, which led to his death once the wound became septic. His corporeal remains were buried next to his father at Fontevraud Abbey near Chinon and Saumur, France. Richard's effigy is on top of the tomb, and his name is inscribed in Latin on the side.
The Cathedral also contains the tomb of Rollo, one of Richard's ancestors, the founder and first ruler of the Viking principality in what soon became known as Normandy.
Other famous graves contained the black marble tomb of John Plantagenet or John Lancaster, Duke of Bedford, who is considered to be Joan of Arc's murderer. He became a canon priest of the cathedral after her death. His original tomb was destroyed by the Calvinists in the 16th century but there remains a commemorative plaque.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.