St. Johann Nepomuk, better known as the Asam Church was built from 1733 to 1746 by the brothers Egid Quirin Asam and Cosmas Damian Asam as their private church. Due to resistance of the citizens, the brothers were forced to make the church accessible to the public. The church is considered to be one of the most important buildings of the main representatives of the southern German Late Baroque.
The church was built without an order, as a private chapel for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of the builders. This allowed the brothers also to build in line with the ideas of independent contractors. So for example Egid Quirin Asam could watch the altar through a window of his private house next to the church (Asamhaus).
The Baroque façade is integrated into the houses of the Sendlingerstraße and swings slightly convex outward. St. Johann Nepomuk was built in a confined space, the property is just 22 by 8 m. Even more astonishing is the performance of the two builders who were able to unite in the two-story space architecture, painting and sculpture in harmony. Especially the indirect lighting in the choir area is very well done: hidden behind the cornice window the Trinity figures are illuminated effective from behind. The cornice itself seems to swing up and down on its curved construction.
The interior is divided vertically into three sections, which increase in brightness from the bottom upwards. The lowermost portion of the benches for the church visitors is kept relatively dark and in the design symbolizes the suffering of the world. The second section, located above, is kept white and blue, and reserved for the emperor. The uppermost portion of the indirect and hidden illuminated ceiling painting is dedicated to God and eternity.
The ceiling fresco 'Life of Saint Nepomuk' is considered one of the masterpieces by Cosmas Damian Asam. The high altar of the Asam Church is framed by four spiral columns. At the high altar, these four columns are used as a reference to the four-Bernini columns over the grave of St. Peter in St. Peter's in Rome. Previously, the brothers Asam had studied in Italy, at the Accademia di San Luca, under Lorenzo Bernini. At the top is God, the Saviour. Below the tabernacle, a relic of John of Nepomuk is kept. Two angels, sculpted by Ignaz Günther, flank the gallery altar and were added at a later date.
Compared to a usually very strictly divided baroque church the Asamkirche has shows some peculiarities due to its status as a private chapel: The church altar is situated in the west, not the east as usual. In addition, the crucifix opposite the pulpit was hung lower too low. In Baroque churches it was to hang above the pulpit, so that the preacher had to look up to Jesus Christ.
In a bomb attack in 1944, the choir was heavily damaged, with the interior restoration from 1975 to 1983 according to source study was done a hypothetical original appearance of the choir.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.