Nykirken (literally The new church) is a cruciform church originally built in 1621 on the site of the ruins of the home of the archbishop, a stone building that was built in the 14th century, and was destroyed by fire. The church only stood for two years before it burned down in 1623. It was immediately rebuilt. In 1660 the church was again destroyed by fire and again rebuilt in 1670. Later fires happened in 1756 and in 1800.
20 April 1944, during World War II, the church was once again destroyed when the German ship exploded in Vågen leaving large parts of Bergen in ruins. The reconstruction followed the plans of the church built after the fire in 1756, including the spire called for in these plans but not built. Johan Joachim Reichborn is the architect.The church has 750 seats, somewhat less than before 1944. The great majority are in high-sided box pews, although there are also some painted wooden benches, more suitable for children.
The church is informally known as 'the Children's Church' following the desire of a former Bishop of Bergen to develop this use. In consequence the interior has been largely decorated by local children. These decorations include hand-painted icons, hanging mobiles, and large paintings that have been set into double-glazing panels to form a satined glass effect at every window in the main church building.
The 'Baptismal Angel' is a massive carved angel which descends from the ceiling of the church by means of a pulley system, bearing in its hand the bowl for infant baptsms. The original was donated in 1794 in memory of Heinrich Pütter, but was destroyed in the 1944 explosion. The replacement was donated by Bergen Cathedral, who had always been the owners of the matching angel, but kept it unused in storage. The mechanism for the angel is now electrically operated.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.