The Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Béguinage, attributed to the Flemish architect Lucas Faydherbe, this building is a notable illustration of the Italian-influenced Flemish Baroque style of the 17th century. The church was part of the béguinage Notre-Dame de la Vigne of Brussels (an architectural complex which formerly housed beguines, lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world).
The Beguines were lay women who lived a communal life but were not bound by perpetual vows. Three court Beguinages existed in Brussels but the first and largest court Beguinage was the Béguinage de Notre-Dame de la Vigne which was founded before 1247 outside the city walls.
Located near today's place du Beguinage, the community composed a miniature village of individual dwelling with a mill, laundry, and flower and vegetable garden enclosed within a wall. The Beguines built an infirmary and a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Vineyard served as a place of worship.
Because their community had grown to 1200 beguines at the end of the 13th century, a larger Gothic church was built at the same location where the present-day building is located. The women engaged in weaving wool and, from the 16th century onward, in making lace. From the start the Rue du Béguinage ormed the main axis of this large triangular domain of which the Rue de Laeken formed the base. The area between rue de Laeken and Quai au Bois à Brûler was known as the Beguinage quarter during the Middle Ages.
The Beguines were dispersed in 1797 during the French regime. The grounds were parceled out gradually and streets laid out. The infirmary was renovated and transformed into the Hospice Pacheco.
The previous church was a Gothic building with 3 naves and a transept that was destroyed by calvinists in 1584 during the Calvinist Republic of Brussels which lasted from 1577 to 1585. The Beguines decided to rebuild their church in Baroque style and its construction started in 1657. Attributed to the Flemish architect Lucas Faydherbe, this church is a notable illustration of the Italian-influenced Flemish Baroque style of the 17th century. Its façade is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Belgium. The church was restored after it was ravaged by a fire in November 2000.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.