The Imposing Vilmnitz brick church was built in the mid-13th century with double square choir and rib-vaulting. Shortly afterwards, the sacristy to the north was built. Square-hewn fieldstones in the base of the wall point to the early date of building for the choir and the sacristy. Originally there was a narrower nave, completed at about the mid-14th century at the latest. In the 15th century it was demolished and replaced by the present structure. The square, three-storey tower to the west was completed in the late 15th century. The bell dates from 1554. The choir was converted in 1600 into a memorial church by the Putbus family. The simple, Baroque southern narthex was added in the second half of the 18th century to provide access to the patron’s box. An oriel-like extension to the sacristy was added in the 18th century. The church was thoroughly restored in 1906/07. All windows are ogival. The interior is whitewashed. The floor is a few steps higher in the choir, paved with brick tiles (two stamped “1709” and “1762”).
Oldest items are the tomb slab dating from 1533 (originally served to cover the Putbus burial vault), masonry altar block and three crosses in the limestone table slab. Otherwise all furnishings are post-Reformation. Burial vault with 27 splendidly ornamented Putbus family coffins from the period 1637-1856 are worth of seeing.
Churchyard is worth visiting, fieldstone filling wall, 84 gravestones from the 19th century, 12 cast-iron crosses. Picturesque ensemble, church on the hill, churchyard, schoolhouse, and vicarage.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.