St. John's Church is one of the oldest churches in the Montenegro coastal region, which was built, according to oral tradition, in the 7th century. It was a Cathedral until 1828, when the Diocese of Budva was abolished. The Cathedral was damaged in the earthquake of 1667, after which it was reconstructed on several occasions, while its high tower, which dominates the town, was erected in 1867. Next to the church, there is the former Bishop’s court complex.
The church features several objects of cultural and historical value and, among its numerous old Icons, the most notable is one of the Virgin Mary with Christ called the Madonna in Punta. It is also known as the Madonna of Budva or the Great Panagia (“the saint of all that is holy”). In 1807, it was brought from the Church of Santa Maria in Punta and is now considered to be the shrine of the Patron Saint of the town and its inhabitants, protecting them both from plague and pirate raids. In the 1970s, the original classical altar was removed from the church, and a new altar wall – a mosaic made of mural glass covering an area of 40 square metres – was created by the well-known Croatian painter, Ivo Dulcic.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.