Juditten Church is an originally Roman Catholic, later Protestant, and currently Russian Orthodox church in the Mendeleyevo district of Kaliningrad. Juditten was the name of Mendeleyevo when it was a quarter of Königsberg, Germany. One of the oldest churches of Sambia, the fortified church of was built in the Catholic state of the Teutonic Order between 1276 and 1294-1298 or c. 1287-1288. In 1402 it was mentioned in the treasurer's book as Judynkirchen. Frescoes by the painter Peter were located in the chancel by 1394. It received a free-standing tower ca. 1400, a crucifix c. 1520, and a weather vane in 1577. The clock tower and nave were connected by a barrel-vaulted vestibule in 1820.
Juditten became a shrine to the Virgin Mary and a medieval Christian pilgrimage site for visitors from throughout the Holy Roman Empire, especially during the era of Grand Master Konrad von Jungingen. The church's frescoes depicted coats of arms (such as those of Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen, the lives of Jesus and Mary, the Twelve Apostles, chivalric stories, and legendary creatures. Its large Madonna and Child above a crescent moon was made out of colored wood by an unknown master before 1454. According to Friedrich Lahrs, the Madonna had previously been located in Königsberg Cathedral's chapel. Its pearls were stolen from its crown by Königsberg rebels in 1454 during the Thirteen Years' War, with the Teutonic Knights replacing them in 1504 and moving the art to the pilgrimage site Juditten in 1504. The church was converted from Catholicism to Lutheranism in 1526 following the establishment of the Duchy of Prussia the previous year; pilgrimages were allowed to continue despite the Protestant Reformation. It also contained a cathedra from 1686, a Baroque altar, and an organ from 1840.
The church included epitaphs and portraits of field marshals Erhard Ernst von Röder and Hans von Lehwaldt by the Königsberg artist E. A. Knopke; both Röder and Lehwaldt were successively married to a daughter of Wilhelm Dietrich von Buddenbrock. Johann Christoph Gottsched was born in the church's rectory in 1700. Stanislaus Cauer was buried in the church's cemetery.
Although the church was largely undamaged by fighting during World War II, it was plundered in April 1945, when it passed from German to Russian control. Services continued until 1948. It was neglected until the 1970s, with the roof and part of the walls collapsing in the 1960s. It was reconsecrated in October 1985 as a Russian Orthodox church and was eventually restored to serve as the main church of St. Nicholas Orthodox Convent.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.