Banz Abbey, now known as Schloss Banz, is a former Benedictine monastery. It was founded in about 1070 by Countess Alberada of Schweinfurt and her husband, Count Hermann of Habsberg-Kastl, and until the secularisation of 1803 was the oldest monastery on the upper Main. In the late Middle Ages and until 1575 only members of the nobility were accepted as monks.
After the Thirty Years' War the abbey had to be re-built. The abbots Eucharius Weiner and Kilian Düring commissioned Johann Leonhard Dientzenhofer and after his death in 1707, his brother Johann Dientzenhofer. Construction began in 1698. The church, built in of Baroque style, was consecrated in 1719. The interior is unexpectedly built, not with right angles, but with a series of ellipses. The main altar, the chancel and the statues of saints in the church and on the facade are by Balthasar Esterbauer; the ceiling frescoes are by Melchior Steidl. The choir stalls were made by the court cabinet maker and ebonist of Schönborn, Johann Georg Nesstfell.
In the second half of the 18th century Banz Abbey was known throughout the Holy Roman Empire as a place of Catholic enlightenment and for the scholarship of its monks. This did not save it from secularisation and dissolution in 1803.
In 1813 Duke Wilhelm in Bavaria, acquired the former abbey premises, which were thereafter known as Schloss Banz.
In 1933 Duke Ludwig Wilhelm in Bavaria, sold the buildings to the Community of the Holy Angels, an order dedicated to the spiritual care of expatriate Germans. Since 1978 the former monastery has been in the possession of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, an organisation closely associated with the political party the CSU in Bavaria, and is used as a conference centre. It also accommodates a collection of fossils and other curiosities, such as Egyptian mummies.
The estate of the former monastery, including vast forests, is today owned by Duke Max Emanuel's eldest daughter Sophie, Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein.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.