Tromsø Cathedral is the episcopal seat of the Diocese of Nord-Hålogaland in the Church of Norway. This cathedral is notable since it is the only Norwegian cathedral made of wood. The church is built in Gothic revival style, with the church tower and main entrance on the west front. It is probably the northernmost Protestant cathedral in the world. With over 600 seats, it is one of Norway's biggest wooden churches. It originally held about 984 seats, but many benches and seats have been removed over the years to make room for tables in the back of the church.
The structure was completed in 1861, with Christian Heinrich Grosch as the architect. It was built using a cog joint method. It is situated in the middle of the city of Tromsø (on the island of Tromsøya) on a site where in all likelihood there has been a church since the 13th century.
The first church in Tromsø was built in 1252 by King Haakon IV of Norway as a royal chapel. It belonged to the king, therefore, not the Catholic Church. This church is mentioned several times in the Middle Ages as 'St. Mary's near the Heathens' (Sanctae Mariae juxta Pagano).
Not much is known about the previous churches on the site, but it is known that in 1711 a new church was built on this site. That church was replaced in 1803. That church was moved out of the city in 1860 to make way for the building of the present cathedral. The 1803 church building was relocated to an area a few hundred metres south of the city boundary and then in the early 1970s it was moved again to the site of the present Elverhøy Church further up the hills in the city. This church is still there and contains a number of pieces of art that have adorned the churches in Tromsø from the Middle Ages, the oldest of which is a figure of the Madonna, possibly of the 15th century.
The present cathedral was consecrated on 1 December 1861 by the Bishop Carl Peter Essendrop. In 1862 the bell tower was completed and the bell was installed. All of the interior decorations and art were not completed until the 1880s. The cathedral cost about 10,000 Speciedalers to build.
The cathedral interior is dominated by the altar with a copy of the painting Resurrection by the noted artist Adolph Tidemand. Under the picture is a quote from the Gospel of John. Stained glass windows in the front of the church, designed by Gustav Vigeland, were installed in 1960.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.