Notre-Dame de Carentan was built in the 11th century. It is mentioned for the first time in 1106 at the time of the visit of Henry I of England, on Easter day. From the Romanesque period there remain only the west door, the lower part of the pillars and the four main pillars of the crossing with the Romanesque arches.
During the Hundred Years' War in in 1443 the church was in ruins. Reconstruction started first with the nave and the south aisle. Guillaume de Cerisay, a knight and bailiff, richly endowed the church. Its surface area was doubled with the construction of the choir, ambulatories and the north aisle, about 1466. The inauguration took place in 1470. In 1517, the Chapelle du Rosaire (Chapel of the Rosary) was added and the end of the choir. From the same period are the screen surrounding the choir and about fifteen stained glass windows.
In June 1944, American bombers, at the time of D-Day, caused serious damage to the spire, the west door and the choir. The organ was badly damaged, stained glass shattered, the roof holed and the clock damaged. Fortunately, in 1940 the old stained glass had been taken out and stored in the countryside.
The church interior is decorated with paintings from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. In the choir, in the middle of the magnificent reredos behind the high altar (1655), one can admire a very beautiful “Assumption of the Virgin”, the work of Jacques de la Haie, probably from Falaise, painted for Notre-Dame in 1658. This picture is listed by the Beaux-Arts (French National Arts School), and is certainly the outstanding work in the church.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.