The first Vannes Cathedral was erected around 1020 in Romanesque style. The tower is only structure left from it and accommodates the four bells of the church. The present Gothic building was erected on the site of the former cathedral. Its construction extends from the 15th to the 19th centuries, or if the length of the existence of the 13th century Romanesque bell tower is included, a total of seven centuries of construction. In this period the nave and the ornate gateway at the northern end of the north transept – whose twelve niches, according to Breton custom, were supposed to accommodate the Apostles – were built high. The northern tower is the main remnant of the former Romanesque building, while the vaults and the choir were built between 1771 and 1774.
The façade was carved in 1857 in a neo-Gothic style. Outside, in front of the central pillar of the large gate, stands a statue of the Dominican monk St. Vincent Ferrer, from Valencia. His activities in the 15th century greatly influenced Christianity in Vannes. The northern façade opens onto the garden of the cloister (ruins from the 16th century) and the Rue des chanoines ('Street of the Canons') through the beautiful portal at the top of the north transept, built in a Flamboyant late Gothic style (1514), and decorated with twelve niches designed to house statues of the twelve apostles. The cross, visible close to the northern façade, dates back to the 15th century and was brought from the cemetery.
During the Middle Ages, the floor of the cathedral had been covered by tombstones. For hygienic reasons, only the tradition of burying the bishops in their episcopal church has been preserved. However, some tombstones have been returned and can be seen today. The cathedral has only retained tombs dating back to the 17th century. Two bishops' tombs can be found in the crypt under the choir.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.