Marchtal Abbey is a former Premonstratensian monastery founded in the 8th century. In 776 the noble clan of the Ahalolfinger made a gift of the monastery founded by their ancestor Halaholf and his wife to St Gall"s Abbey. By 993 the monastery had become a collegiate foundation of canons dedicated by Herman II, Duke of Swabia, and his wife Gerberga to the apostles Peter and Paul.
During the 12th century the monastery passed through the possession of a series of Swabian nobles, including the Staufen and particularly Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor. These constant changes of proprietor caused a severe decline in the monastery.
In 1171 the monastery was refounded by Pfalzgraf Hugo II of Tübingen as a Premonstratensian double abbey for men and women and given an adequate endowment. The canons were brought from Mönchsrot Abbey in Rot an der Rot. The existing premises were extensive and large-scale construction was not immediately necessary.
The first prior of the new foundation was Eberhard von Wolfegg from Mönchsrot Abbey. Between 1204-1208 Prior Meinhardt had the walls rebuilt. Prior Walther II had the old church extended to a three-aisled basilica, which was dedicated on 2 May 1239 by Henry I, Bishop of Constance. In 1273 Prior Konrad (1226–75) forbade any more admissions to women, and the double monastery soon became one for men only.
Under Prior Heinrich Mörstetter (1436–61) Marchtal was raised to the status of an abbey, in 1440. In 1500 it was made an Imperial abbey, with a place and vote in the Reichstag. In 1609 the abbot received the right to bear the pontificalia (mitre, ring and pectoral cross). At this period more than 20 places and estates belonged to the territory of the abbey, besides houses in the towns of Reutlingen, Ehingen, Munderkingen and Riedlingen.
The Thirty Years" War caused much distress in the southwest of Germany. In 1632 the canons had to flee from the Swedes. The buildings survived the war, but in a very dilapidated state. It was left to the 15th abbot, the young Nikolaus Magnus Wierith, to undertake the restorations. Planning for the construction of the new church began in 1674; the first stone was laid in 1686, and the dedication took place in 1701.
The abbey was dissolved in 1803 during the secularisation, and with its territories became the possession of the Princes of Thurn und Taxis, who administered it as part of the Principality of Buchau.
In 1806 the former abbey was mediatised by the Kingdom of Württemberg. The abbey church became the parish church and the monastery became a 'castle' (Schloss) or country house.
In 1919 a group of sisters of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, also sometimes known as 'Salesian sisters', from Chotieschau Abbey in Bohemia (now Chotěšov Abbey, Czech Republic) were given accommodation in the north wing. The sisters ran a secondary school for girls here until 1992, when it was taken over by the 'Stiftung Katholische Schule der Diözese Rottenburg-Stuttgart'. The convent moved in 1997 to Untermarchtal.
In 1973 the diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart bought the entire monastic complex from the Princes Thurn und Taxis, and converted it into a teacher training academy, opened on 8 September 1978. On 16 September 2001, to mark the 300th anniversary of the dedication of the church, Bishop Gebhard Fürst raised the abbey church to the rank of a minster 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.