Erfurt Cathedral, dedicated to St. Mary, is a late Gothic cathedral which replaced the church built on this site for Bishop Boniface in 742. Martin Luther was ordained in the cathedral in 1507.
The architecture of the Erfurt Cathedral is mainly Gothic and stems from around the 14th and 15th centuries. There are many things of note as far as the architecture is concerned, not least the stained glass windows and furnishings of the interior of the cathedral. The central spire of the three towers that sit aloft the cathedral harbours the Maria Gloriosa which, at the time of its casting by Geert van Wou in 1497, was the world's largest free-swinging bell. It is the largest existing medieval bell in the world. It is known to have purity and beauty of tone.
The cathedral houses many rare and rich furnishings and sculptures, including the tomb of the bigamous Count von Gleichen, accompanied by both of his wives, a stucco altar, a bronze candelebra of Romanesque antiquity called Wolfram, the oldest free standing cast work in Germany, and, out on the porch, several statues of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.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.