The Bovenkerk (also known as the Church of St. Nicholas) is a large Gothic church and the most striking element on the skyline of Kampen. The interior of the church contains an early-Renaissance choir screen, a stone pulpit and a monumental organ. The church has 1,250 seats. It is a Reformed church.
The construction of the church took place in several phases. The 12th century Romanesque church was modified as Early Gothic church in the late 1200s. The basilica choir was added in the last quarter of 14th century and the construction completed in the second half 15th century.
A common practice for old historic churches was to bury the dead under the Church. The Bovenkerk is no exception to this practice, where famous Dutch persons originating from Kampen are buried. One of them is Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634), one of the first landscape painters of the 17th-century Dutch school, specialized in painting the Netherlands in winter. The transept contains a small ornament of red marble with a green marble urn in memory of Vice Admiral Jan Willem de Winter (1761-1812). The heart of Vice Admiral De Winter is enclosed in this urn, while his body is buried in the Panthéon in Paris.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.