The Groote Kerk of St. James (15th and 16th centuries) has a fine vaulted interior, and contains some old stained glass, a carved wooden pulpit (1550), a large organ and interesting sepulchral monuments, and some escutcheons of the knights of the Golden Fleece, placed here after the chapter of 1456.
It is remarkable for its fine tower and chime of bells, and contains the cenotaph monument of Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam, designed by Cornelis Moninckx and sculpted by Bartholomeus Eggers in 1667, and the renaissance tomb of Gerrit van Assendelft (1487 - 1558).
The church's six-sided tower is one of the tallest in the Netherlands. There are 34 panels with shields and names of knights of the golden fleece. The mechanical clock has 15 bells by M. de Haze in 1686, one by Jasper and Jan Moer from 1541, one from H. Van Trier from 1570, one by Coenraat Wegewaert from 1647, and one from C. Fremy from 1692 and 31 modern bells. In the church tower there is an automatic carillon by Libertus van den Burgh, from 1689.
The church endured a fire in 1539, and the stained glass windows were repaired by leading glass artists, including the brothers Dirk and Wouter Crabeth of Gouda. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, who visited the church after the fire, sponsored two windows by the Crabeth's that due to their royal origin are the only two windows that have survived up to the present day. Under one of these windows lies a commemorative stone from 1857 for Constantijn and Christiaan Huygens, who were buried in unmarked graves in the choir of the church.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.