Garðar was the seat of the bishop in the Norse settlements in Greenland. In the sagas it is told that Sokki Þórisson, a wealthy farmer of the Brattahlíð area launched the idea of a separate bishop for Greenland in the early 12th century. He got the approval of the Norwegian King. Most of the clergy would come from Norway. The first bishop of Garðar, Arnaldur, was ordained by the Archbishop of Lund in 1124. He arrived in Greenland in 1126. In the same year he started with the construction of the cathedral, devoted to St. Nicholas, patron saint of sailors. The diocese was first assigned to the Archbishopric of Bremen. The diocese of Garðar was subject to the Archbishop of Lund from 1126–1152. In 1152 the diocese of Greenland, as well as those of Iceland, the Isle of Man, the Orkney Islands, and the Faroe Islands became subject to the newly established Archdiocese of Nidaros.
Bishop Arnaldur returned to Norway in 1150 and became bishop of Hamar in 1152. His successor was Jón Knútur, who served from 1153–1186. The third bishop was Jón Árnason (nicknamed Smyrill), who took office in 1189. In 1202–1203 he went on a pilgrimage to Rome and met the Pope. He died in Garðar in 1209 and was buried there, most likely in the Northern Chapel of the cathedral.
The next bishop, Þór Helgi, arrived in Greenland in 1212 and was bishop until his death in 1230. In 1234 Nikulás was ordained, but he arrived in Greenland only in 1239. He died in 1242. Ólafur was ordained in the same year, but arrived only in 1247. He remained bishop until the mid-1280s. He was abroad from 1264 to 1280, thus hardly serving in his own diocese. The next bishop was Þór Bokki who stayed in Garðar from 1289 until his return to Norway in 1309.
The next one to serve was bishop Árni, who served from 1315 to 1347. Due to the poor communication between Greenland and Norway, it was assumed that he had died and a new bishop (Jón Skalli) was ordained in 1343. When it was discovered that the bishop was still alive, he resigned and never went to Greenland.
After the death of bishop Árni in 1347 it took a long time for the next bishop to arrive, mainly due to the worsening communications. Bishop Álfur was ordained in 1368 and served as last bishop of Garðar until 1378. The Greenland diocese disappeared in the 1400s, when the ship departures from Norway stopped.
Presently the settlement of Igaliku is situated on the same location. The site has been the subject of archaeological investigations since the 1830s.The cathedral has been the primary target of much of the archaeological work and was fully excavated in 1926 by Danish archaeologist Poul Nørlund (1888–1951). Nørlund made several scientific studies in Greenland starting in 1921 and ending in 1932.
Many ruins of the Norse settlements can still be seen in Igaliku today. The ruins mostly consist of the stone foundations of the walls in their original positions so that the extent of the settlement, both individual buildings and collectively, can be determined and understood. The main ruin is of the Garðar Cathedral, a cross-shaped church built of sandstone in the 12th century. The maximum length is 27 m, the width 16 m. There are also two large barns on the site with the capacity to have held up to 160 cows. The see ran the largest farm in Greenland.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.