Kostanjevica Franciscan Monastery with the Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady stands on a hill dividing the town of Nova Gorica and the suburb of Pristava. It is located just some 200 meters from the border with Italy. It is famous as the burial place of Charles X of France and his family.
In 1623 as small Carmelite sanctuary was erected just outside the limits of the town of Gorizia. In the next hundred years, a monastery was built next to the church, while the monastic chapel became an important site for pilgrims from Friuli and Goriška regions. In 1781, the monastery was disbanded by the Habsburg Emperor Joseph II. In 1811, the Franciscan friars acquired the abandoned complex, re-establishing the monastery. Among other, they brought a notable library containing some 10,000 books, which they transferred from the nearby Sveta Gora monastery. Today, the library is named after Father Stanislav Škrabec, a renowned Slovene linguist from the 19th century who lived and worked in the monastery for more than 40 years.
The Kostanjevica monastery was severely damaged in the Battles of the Isonzo during World War I. It was restored between 1924 and 1929. Until the end of World War II, the monastery was part of the town of Gorizia. In 1947, the border between Italy and Yugoslavia was set just a few hundred meters westward from the monastery, and Kostanjevica became part of the newly established town of Nova Gorica.
In the 19th century, the crypt of the Franciscan monastery was used for the burial of members of the French House of Bourbon who went into exile after the July Revolution. Most of them had settled in Gorizia, then part of the Austrian Empire, in the 1830s. The most famous of these is Charles X of France, King of France and Navarre.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.