The Lateran Palace is an ancient palace of the Roman Empire and later the main papal residence in southeast Rome. Located on St. John's Square in Lateran on the Caelian Hill, the edifice is adjacent to the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral church of Rome.
From the fourth century, the palace was the principal residence of the popes, and continued so for about a thousand years until the seat ultimately moved to the Vatican. The original palace was destroyed by fires in 1307 and 1361. Due to the damage the ancient building of the Lateran Palace was replaced with the same structure, which is the current Lateran Palace, during the papacy of Pope Sixtus V.
The Sancta Sanctorum chapel is the only building from the old Lateran palace that was not destroyed during its reconstruction. It was the original private chapel of the papacy before it moved to Avignon, and later to the Vatican palace. The chapel contains a wooden reliquary box, which supposedly houses the bones of at least 13 saints.
The palace is now used by the Vatican Historical Museum, which illustrates the history of the Papal States. The palace also houses the offices of the Vicariate of Rome, as well as the residential apartments of the Cardinal vicar, the pope's delegate for the daily administration of the diocese.
Until 1970, the palace was also home to the important collections of the Lateran Museum, now dispersed among other parts of the Vatican Museums.
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.