Dedicated to John the Baptist, the Steingaden abbey was founded in 1147 as a Premonstratensian house by Welf VI, third son of Henry the Black, Duke of Bavaria, and brother of Duke Henry the Proud. The first monks and their abbot came from the Premonstratensian Rot an der Rot Abbey. The Romanesque abbey church was dedicated in 1176. Between 1470 and 1491 the abbey buildings were refurbished under Abbot Caspar Suiter in the Late Gothic style. Welf VI and his son Welf VII were both buried here.
The abbey was looted and burnt in 1525 during the German Peasants' War, and was later almost completely destroyed in the Thirty Years' War. Reconstruction was completed in 1663 under Abbot Augustin Bonenmayr in the style of the early Baroque. During the 1740s the nave of the church was redecorated in the Rococo style.
The abbey's prestigious building projects, combined with its inaccessible location, brought it into financial difficulties which remained insuperable to the end of its existence.
Steingaden Abbey was dissolved in 1803 during the secularisation of Bavaria. The monastic buildings were bought at auction by the Meyer brothers from Aarau, who demolished them in 1819, except for the wing containing the Romanesque cloisters.
The former abbey church, the Welfenmünster, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, is a Romanesque building of the 1170s under an extravagant Rococo refurbishment carried out by Johann Georg Bergmüller throughout the whole of the 1740s. It survived the dissolution as the parish church of Steingaden, which it remains.
The abbey church was the place of burial of the founder, Welf VI, who died in 1191, and his son Welf VII, who predeceased his father in 1167. Their elaborate tomb was destroyed in 1525. The church retained however a carved sandstone panel of the Welf arms, dating from about 1200 which may well have formed part of the destroyed tomb. Apart from seals and seal impressions this is the oldest known surviving heraldic representation in Germany. The panel was acquired by the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich in 1861.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.