Paderborn Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Mary, Saint Kilian and Saint Liborius. Today's cathedral is located in a position that has been occupied by churches for hundreds of years. Charlemagne had a Kaiserpfalz built near the sources of the Pader river. As early as 777 this palace had an attached church. This church, located north of today's cathedral, served as chapel to the court as well as a basis for missionary work among the Pagan Saxons. Rebellious Saxons repeatedly destroyed this first church. After the locals converted to Christianity, the first cathedral was built. Pope Leo III met Charlemagne at Paderborn in 799 and consecrated an altar to Saint Stephen, depositing some relics of that saint in it. The first cathedral of the newly established bishopric was a three-aisled basilica.
A fire destroyed the first cathedral in 1000 AD. Bishop Rethar began with rebuilding, but his successor Meinwerk had the previous work destroyed and started over, building a three-aisled church with a transept and crypt in the east. This (second) cathedral was consecrated in 1015, but destroyed in a city fire in 1058. Meinwerk's nephew, Imad had the cathedral rebuilt on a significantly larger scale (third cathedral). This building, with two transepts, already was very similar to today's cathederal. Today's crypt was built around 1100 AD. Similarly, a chapel to St. Bartholomew, connected to the cathedral, would be built after 1015 by Greek monks. Another fire in 1133 damaged the church, but its core survived. Bernhard I. von Oesede had the building strengthened and extended (fourth cathedral), it was reconsecrated in 1144/45.
In the 13th century, the cathedral was reconstructed, not due to damage but to bring it up to then current artistic and ecclesial standards. Construction likely began at the western end of the building (late Romanesque basilika, before 1220). The nave followed in the form of a hall church in early Gothic style. It was completed in the late 13th century with High Gothic elements.
In the 17th century, Prince-Bishops Dietrich Adolf von der Recke (1601-1661) and Ferdinand von Fürstenberg (1626–1683) replaced the Gothic interior features with Baroque artworks.
Repeated Allied bombing of Paderborn in 1945 resulted in severe damage to the cathedral and the loss of irreplaceable works of art, including all the historic glass windows. On 22 March 1945, fourteen people were killed by a blockbuster bomb in the cloister. Reconstruction took until the 1950s. From 1978-81, a major restoration was undertaken.
The relics of Saint Liborius are kept in the three-aisled crypt, which is one of Germany's largest crypts. Towards the west are the tombs of the Archbishops of Paderborn.
One of the cathedral's, and the city's, most recognisable features is the Dreihasenfenster ('Window of Three Hares'). It depicts three hares in motion, arranged in a triangle. Each hare is shown as having two ears, although only three ears are visible in total. The original 16th century carving can be found in the cloister's inner courtyard, and has been duplicated on numerous buildings and a number of shops throughout the city centre.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.