Ulnes Church is a stone church built around 1265, and was first time mentioned in documents in 1307. The choir comprises a very old baptismal font cover. A female figure from the 13th or 14th century is displayed in a glass case in the entrance hall. This is one half of a figure illustrating the meeting between Mary and Elisabeth. The church used to have an altar front from the period 1325-1350, showing St. Margareth, St. Peter, St. Paul and St. Sunniva. The baptismal angels (fonts) date back to 1793 and 1873, and the most recent one was made by Ole Fladager from Ulnes, Norway`s most renowned sculptor during the 1800s.
Wall paintings in the choir and over the choir arch are from the 1790s. Among them are illustrations sucha as Jesus with three of his disciples and Zacchaeus in the mulberry tree. Ulnes church is the only one in Norway featuring an illustration of the Zacchaeus story. The altarpiece from 1850 has its own special history. By means of a pull-string, the Three Holy Kings can revolve around Maria and the child. This is the onlye altarpiece in Norway with a feature of this kind.
During the 1840s, two brothers from Ulnes wanted to go to America. One of them was a woodcarver and the other one was a painter. Their ship went down during a North Sea storm, and in their prayers they promised God that if they survived they would go home and donate a beautiful gift to their church. The lifeboat was washed ashore in the Netherlands, and from there they went to Germany where they spent three years as apprentices to master craftsmen while also studying altarpieces. Then they went home and created the altarpiece. Later on they left for America, and arrived safely.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.