Our Lady of Victories Church was the first church and building completed in Valletta. The church was built to commemorate the victory of the Knights of the Order of St John and the Maltese over the Ottoman invaders on 8 September 1565. It was built on the site where a religious ceremony was held to inaugurate the laying of the foundation stone of the new city Valletta on 28 March 1566. A church was chosen as the first building in order to express gratitude. In fact, not only is the church dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin, but the titular painting is situated behind the main altar as well and it depicts the birth of the Blessed Virgin. Grandmaster Jean Parisot de Valette personally funded for the building of the church.
On the 21st August of 1568, Grand Master De Valette passed away after coming down with a fever. In line with his final wishes, De Valette was entombed in the crypt of the church upon his death. However, as St. John's Co-Cathedral was built, De Valette's remains were moved to there.
In 1617, the order of St John chose this church as their parish church. The church was then dedicated to St Anthony of Egypt. In 1699, the apse of the church was enlarged on the orders of Grand Master Ramon Perellos y Roccaful. In 1716, Maltese artist Alessio Erardi was commissioned by Grand Master Perellos to paint the vault with elemental scenes portraying the Life of the Virgin; these were finished in two years. In 1752, the façade, sacristy, belfry and the parish priest’s house were enlarged. The façade received a beautiful baroque look. The façade also includes a bronze bust of Pope Innocent XII. In addition, in the second part of the 18th century, apart from the altars dedicated to St John the Baptist and St Paul, two other altars were built.
In 1837, the church became the Garrison Church to the Royal Malta Fencibles which later became the Royal Malta Artillery. Throughout the years, the church experienced several damages both to its structure and to its paintings. On 23 April 1942, the church ceiling was damaged as a consequence of an air raid that hit Valletta which also destroyed the nearby Royal Opera House.
The church has a number of artistic treasures. The paintings on each end above the altar depict St Anthony of Egypt and St Anthony of Padua. These were brought to Malta in 1530 by the Knights of Malta after the Emperor Charles V gave the island to the Order of St John as its base. The church also contains works by Francesco Zahra, Ermenegildo Grech and Enrico Arnaux.
In 1716, Ramon Perellos y Roccaful commissioned Alessio Erardi to paint the vault of the church. He painted scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary.
In 1792, Venetian Grand Admiral Angelo Emo died in Malta. He wished for his heart to be buried in the Lady of Victories church; a monument in his name by Maltese sculptor Vincenzo Dimech was erected in 1802.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.