The Nikolo-Vyazhishchskii Stavropegial Women's Monastery was founded in by the monks Efrosiny, Ignaty, and Galaktion and the hieromonk Pimen at the end of the 14th century (a charter from 1391 mentions it), with Pimen becoming the first hegumen of the monastery. It was first mentioned in the chronicle under the year 1411. The monastery was patronized by Archbishop Evfimy II (r. 1429-1458), who was hegumen of the monastery before his election as archbishop of Novgorod in 1429, and was buried there (he is known as St. Evfimy of Vyazhishche). His sarcophagus is now in the Church of St. Evfimy of Vyazhishche, built in 1685. The monastery was one of the greatest landowners in the Novgorodian land, holding in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, some 2,000 hectares of land. Much of its lands were confiscated during secularization under Catherine II (r.1762-1796) at which time it was classified a 2nd Class Monastery.
Following confiscation by the Soviets, the monastery was closed in 1920. It became part of a collective farm and the buildings were used to store yams, as well as a threshing floor, a forge, and a metalshop. From the 1950s, there were efforts to restore the monastery and it was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1989. On March 31, 1990, then Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod Alexius (later the Patriarch of Moscow) reconsecrated the main church to St. Evfimy.
The convent has the status of a stauropegic monastery (as of a grant from the Holy Synod of 7 October 1995), that is, it is under the direct control of the Patriarch of Moscow rather than of the Archbishop of Novgorod. The current hegumenia is Antonia (Korneeva). There are at present some 15 nuns living at the monastery. Of four churches in the Monastery (St. Evfimy, St. Nicholas, St. John the Divine, and The Church of the Ascension), only one is now a working church, that of St. Evfimy. The rest are still being restored.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.