The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Suzdal is one of the eight White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal. One of the most complex monuments of Russian medieval architecture. It was originally constructed during the reign of Vladimir II Monomakh during the late 11th century.
The Cathedral of the Nativity is surrounded by a ring of earthen walls in an oxbow of Kamenka River. It is notable for being the first city cathedral not built for the exclusive use of the knyaz or his relatives. The cathedral contains the remains of a son of Yuri Dolgoruki, knyazes of the Shuisky family and others.
The cathedral was originally built during the reign of Vladimir II Monomakh in 1102. In 1222, on the orders of Yuri II of Vladimir the dilapidated building was taken down and replaced by a new one built of white stone. Thus it remained until 1528, when the white stone walls above the arcade are replaced by brick. In the 17th century, the previously three-domed cathedral was given five domes and the interior was partially repainted. Thus the cathedral survives to this day with numerous changes throughout its history, both in the exterior, and the interior, where the wall frescoes are of 13th-, 15th- and 17th-century origin. The cathedral has also endured fire several times.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.