Gars Abbey was founded in 768 by the cleric Boso from Salzburg for Tassilo III, Duke of Bavaria. For centuries it belonged to the archbishopric of Salzburg. The Augustinian Canons erected the present monastery building after 1122. In 1128 Bishop Conrad I of Salzburg transferred the monastery to the Augustinian Canons.
In 1648 the Swedes pillaged and devastated the town and the monastery. Under Provost Athanasius Peitlhauser the monastery was rebuilt between 1657 and 1659. The monastery wings and the Church of the Assumption were renovated by Italian artists to their present form. The pilaster church was rebuilt after 1661, one of the first Baroque churches in the region. The painted cast stone Pieta on a side altar dates from 1430, and was formerly the main altar of the church. The monastery is interesting for the relics of the martyr Felix. Ceiling paintings and an altar show the importance of this saint to the monastery.
In 1803 the Augustinian Canons were expelled as part of the Bavarian secularization program. The buildings and inventory were sold to private individuals. In 1855 the Redemptorists showed an interest in Gars Monastery, and in 1858 they formally re-opened the monastery. Between 1873 and 1894 under the Kulturkampf only three fathers and brothers were allowed to remain. After the monastery was restored in 1894 the first missionaries were sent to Brazil.
As of 2013 the monastery housed about 16 brothers and 13 priests. The brothers follow various professions including work as bakers, butchers, gardeners, carpenters and tailors. The Fathers work as ward missionaries, helping in the surrounding communities and in education. The monastery has a plant nursery that is well known in the region.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.