Munkeby Abbey was founded sometime between 1150 and 1180, and was the most northerly Cistercian foundation in the world. Possibly, like Hovedøya Abbey and Lyse Abbey, Munkeby's foundation was carried out by English monks. In 1207, Tautra Abbey was founded, and, either then or at some later point in the 13th century the community and assets of Munkeby were transferred to the new foundation, of which Munkeby then became a grange.
An attempt to re-establish it as an independent house in the 1470s failed. The church however continued in use as a parish church until 1587.
Local tradition had always maintained that Okkenhaug Chapel had once belonged to a monastery; for centuries historians dismissed this, until in 1906 a letter dated 1475 from Pope Sixtus IV to Abbot Stephen of Trugge was discovered in the Vatican archives referring to the request for the restoration of the site as a functioning monastery.
Norway accepted the Protestant Reformation and officially became a Luteran kingdom in 1537. All Catholic religious houses were then seized and declared to be Crown property. This was true of Munkeby.
There are substantial remains of the simple church, built of stone, although it was used as a quarry, but the monastic buildings, built of wood, apparently succumbed to fire in 1567. The site was acquired by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments in 1967. No full archaeological investigation of the site has been carried out, but many partial excavations have taken place, including test excavations in 2000, none of which able to discover significant remains of the monastic buildings, although there is no doubt that they were located on the south side of the church.
In 2007, the now-Trappist Abbey of Cîteaux in France decided to establish a new Cistercian monastery at Munkeby, the first new foundation directly from the very first house of the Order in 500 years. A monastery was built and four monks took residence there in 2009. The new monastery is situated about 1.5 kilometres from the medieval ruins. They now form a companion community to the Trappistine nuns who have re-settled the site of the former Tautra Abbey. The name of the modern house is simply Munkeby Mariakloster.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.