St. George's Abbey was founded between 1002 and 1008 by the Countess Wichburg, the wife of Count Ottwin von Sonnenburg of Pustertal. Wichbirg was the sister of the Archbishop Hartwig. The founder's daughter Hildpurg, a nun in the Nonnberg Benedictine abbey in Salzburg, was ordained as the first abbess, and brought the first nuns with her. Count Ottwin and Countess Wichburg were entombed in the crypt of the convent. In the 12th century the convent was reformed. It was placed under the direction of the abbot Wolford of Admont Abbey in 1122. From the 1170s the convent returned to the suzerainty of Salzburg. There is a record of Ulrich II, Duke of Carinthia making a donation to the monastery on 31 March 1199.
The convent suffered economic difficulties, and had difficulty paying taxes to support the Turkish wars. At one point during the Protestant Reformation the community was reduced to the abbess Dorothea Rumpf and two other nuns. They later received support from the Göss Abbey, including the Abbess Afra von Staudach (1562), which helped renew the community. By 1683 the convent had 31 nuns and 16 lay sisters. It had an apothecary, and cared for as many as 500 invalids each year. The convent also ran a school.
1783 the monastery was dissolved by Emperor Joseph II. In 1788 it was put up for auction. Maximilian Thaddäus von Egger bought it for 163,100 gulden and made the monastery complex the new seat of the Count of Egger. The castle was opened to tourists around the end of the 18th century. In 1934 it was sold to the Missionary Order of Mariannhill. During World War II (1939-45) it served for a while as the seminary of Gurk, then was converted into a military hospital in 1943. The Marianhiller's took the building back in 1948. In 1959 it was purchased by the Diocese of Gurk for use as an Episcopal educational establishment.
Today the former Benedictine convent includes a church where services are still held, an educational establishment run by the diocese, a hotel and seminar facilities.
The convent and the church, with its crypt, are built on stone foundations that date back to Roman times. The north-west wing of the present complex was built in 1546 In the years 1654 to 1658 the monastery was remodeled in the baroque style by the architect Pietro Francesco Carlone. The impressive high altar was probably built in the late 17th century. Parts of the original buildings and the Renaissance arcades in the northern courtyard have been preserved.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.