Kaupanger Stave Church is the largest stave church in Sogn og Fjordane. The nave is supported by 22 staves, 8 on each of the longer sides and 3 on each of the shorter. The elevated chancel is carried by 4 free standing staves. The church has the largest number of staves to be found in any one stave church. It is still in use as a parish church, having been in use continuously since its erection.
Kaupanger Stave Church was built in the 12th century, and is situated on the ruins of what might be two previous post churches. Kaupanger was a market town that King Sverre burned down in 1184 to punish the local inhabitants for disobeying him. It was previously thought that the stave church previously standing on this site burned down in this fire, as archaeological research in the 1960s revealed that the previous church had burned down. The present church was therefore believed to have been built around 1190. Recent research has changed these assumptions. Dendrochronology has shown that the timber used for building the church was cut in 1137. Also, Sverris saga makes no mention of the burning of the church at the time the town was burnt. Consequently, it is now assumed that the church was built around 1150.
Several restoration projects have taken place both inside the church and on the exterior, but in spite of these changes, the medieval construction has been preserved. The pulpit, altarpiece and font are all from the 17th century. In 1984, composer Arne Nordheim was inspired by the neumes and the sound of the medieval bells in Kaupanger stave church in composing the work Klokkesong, which was first performed inside the church as part of the 800th commemoration of the Battle of Fimreite.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.