Cambuskenneth Abbey is a ruined Augustinian monastery founded of David I around the year 1140. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it was initially known as the Abbey of St Mary of Stirling and sometimes simply as Stirling Abbey. The major street leading down the castle hill from the royal residences in Stirling Castle to the abbey was called St. Mary's Wynd, a name it retains.
Cambuskenneth was one of the more important abbeys in Scotland, due in part to its proximity to the Royal Burgh of Stirling, a leading urban centre of the country and sometime capital. Its status as a royal abbey in the neighbourhood of a major national stronghold may be compared to that of Holyrood Abbey vis à vis Edinburgh. Royalty, including Edward Longshanks (King of England) and later Robert the Bruce (King of Scots), prayed regularly at the abbey. Bruce held his parliament there in 1326 to confirm the succession of his son David II.
In 1486 Margaret of Denmark died at Stirling Castle and was buried at the abbey. In 1488 her husband James III was murdered at the Battle of Sauchieburn and his body was brought to Cambuskenneth Abbey for burial. The elaborate marker of his grave, which was funded by Queen Victoria, is still visible at one end of the church.
The abbey fell into disuse during the Scottish Reformation. By 1559 there were few monks remaining there, and the abbey was closed and most of the buildings looted and burned. The abbey was placed under the jurisdiction of the military governor of Stirling Castle, who had much of the stonework removed and used in construction projects in the castle.
Of the once wealthy abbey, mostly only knee-high ruins and exposed foundations remain. Only the 13th century campanile is intact, following an extensive renovation in 1859. The abbey was acquired by the crown in 1908, and it is managed by Historic Scotland. The abbey is open to visitors during the summer months. Visitors can enter the base room of the campanile; the stairs to the upper floors are locked, but are opened for visitors on occasion.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.