Apostolos Andreas Monastery is dedicated to Saint Andrew. The monastery is an important site to the Cypriot Orthodox Church. It was once known as 'the Lourdes of Cyprus', served not by an organized community of monks but by a changing group of volunteer priests and laymen. Both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities consider the monastery a holy place.
The monastery was supposedly founded here, as during a journey to the Holy Land, the ship which was transporting Saint Andrew went off course and struck the rocks here. On coming ashore, Andrew struck the rocks with his staff, at which point a spring gushed forth. The waters proved to have healing powers, and restored the sight of the ship's captain who had been blind in one eye. Thereafter, the site became a place of pilgrimage. A fortified monastery stood here in the 12th century, from which Isaac Comnenus negotiated his surrender to Richard the Lionheart. In the 15th century, a small chapel was built close to the shore. The church of the main monastery dates to the 18th century, while the main buildings are 100 years younger.
Mass pilgrimage, however, is only comparatively recent, dating back to the 20th century. The story is told that in 1895, the son of Maria Georgiou was kidnapped. Seventeen years later, Saint Andrew appeared to her in a dream, telling her to pray for her son's return at the monastery. Living in Anatolia, she embarked on the crossing to Cyprus on a very crowded boat. Telling her story during the journey, one of the passengers, a young Dervish priest became more and more interested. Asking if her son had any distinguishing marks, and on hearing of a pair of birthmarks, he stripped off his clothes to reveal the same marks, and mother and son were reunited.
After the invasion of the Turks 1974, most of the Greek Cypriots in the area were ethnically cleansed and removed to the south, although a few remained in Rizokarpaso. For 30 years, very few pilgrims visited the monastery, but with the opening of the crossing points, this flow is now increasing. The monastery has fallen into a state of disrepair in recent years, UN funding is in place to pay for refurbishment, along with the Hala Sultan Tekke near Larnaca. In 2013, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus authorities stated that the monastery will undergo extensive restoration costing more than 5 million Euros.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.