Salem Abbey was a very prominent Cistercian monastery founded in 1136 by Gunthram of Adelsreute (d. 1138) as a daughter house of Lützel Abbey in Alsace. Blessed Frowin of Bellevaux, formerly the travelling companion and interpreter of Bernard of Clairvaux, became the first abbot of Salem.
The abbey soon became very prosperous. Extensive and magnificent buildings, erected in three squares, and a splendid church were constructed between 1182 and 1311. Salem was noted as the richest and most beautiful monastery in Germany, being particularly renowned for its hospitality. Amongst its greatest benefactors and patrons were Conrad of Swabia and Frederick Barbarossa. The former placed the abbey under the special protection of himself and his successors, whence the title of 'Imperial abbey' (Reichsabtei or Reichskloster — independent from all territorial lordship bar that of the emperor alone) which was renewed several times under Barbarossa and his successors. Pope Innocent II also took the abbey under his particular patronage.
Its growth was continuous; after having made three important foundations — Raitenhauslach Abbey (1143), Wettingen Abbey or Stella Maris (1227), and Königsbronn Abbey (1303) — it still numbered 285 monks at the beginning of the 14th century. Its abbot, from 1454 on, was privileged to confer subdeaconship on his monks.
The abbey gradually declined after Reformation, and with the exception of the church was almost entirely destroyed by a fire in 1697. Rebuilding started immediately and Salem was reconstructed as an impressive Baroque complex. Later in the century the abbey undertook between 1746 and 1749 the development of the pilgrimage church of Birnau under the supervision of Peter Thumb.
Caspar Oexle, who, as librarian, had increased the library to 30,000 volumes and a great number of manuscripts, was elected abbot in March 1802. In September of the same year the abbey was suppressed and given to the Margrave of Baden, while the library was added to that of Petershausen Abbey, and finally sold to the University of Heidelberg.
The church, known as Salem Minster, a Gothic structure which escaped the fire of 1697, became a parish church; but the famous grand tower with its fifteen bells, the largest weighing 10,000 lb, was destroyed in 1805–07.
Following the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss 1803 and the nearly complete secularization in Germany the history of the monastery ended and the monks left the abbey. The other abbey buildings were used as the castle of the Grand Dukes of Baden, and the site was from then on known as Schloss Salem. In 1920, part of the castle premises were acquired for use as a boarding school, which continues to this day as the Schule Schloss Salem.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.