The Hofkirche (Court Church) is a Gothic church built in 1553 by Emperor Ferdinand I (1503–1564) as a memorial to his grandfather Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519), whose cenotaph within boasts a remarkable collection of German Renaissance sculpture. The church also contains the tomb of Andreas Hofer, Tyrol's national hero.
Although Maximilian's will had directed that he be buried in the castle chapel in Wiener Neustadt, it proved impractical to construct there the large memorial whose plans he had supervised in detail, and Ferdinand I as executor planned construction of a new church and monastery in Innsbruck for a suitable memorial. In the end, however, Maximilian's simple tomb remained in Wiener Neustadt and the Hofkirche serves as a cenotaph.
The church was designed by architect Andrea Crivelli of Trento in the traditional German form of a hall church, consisting of three naves with a setback three-sided choir, round and pointed arch windows, and a steep broken hip roof. Its layered buttresses reflect compromise of contemporary Renaissance design with German late Gothic style. Stonemasons Hieronymus de Longhi and Anton de Bol carved the fine Renaissance portal.
The high altar seen today was designed in 1755 by the Viennese court architect Nikolaus Pacassi, and decorated with a crucifixion by the Viennese academic painter Johann Carl Auerbach, and bronze statues of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Teresa of Ávila by Innsbruck court sculptor Balthasar Moll (1768). The Renaissance organ (1560) is by Jörg Ebert of Ravensburg, and described locally as one of the five most famous organs in the world. Domenico Pozzo from Milan painted the organ panels.
Emperor Maximilian's ornate black marble cenotaph occupies the center of the nave. Florian Abel, of the Prague imperial court, supplied a full-sized draft of the high tomb in the florid style of court Mannerism. Its construction took more than 80 years. The sarcophagus itself was completed in 1572, and the final embellishments—the kneeling emperor, the four virtues, and the iron grille—were added in 1584.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.