The Pantokrator Monastery is ranked seventh in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Athos peninsula. As is case of the other institutions on Mount Athos, life at Pantokrator is coenobitic.
The Pantokrator Monastery is located near the Monastery of Stavronikita. The monastery was founded about 1357 by Alexios the Stratopedarch and John the Primikerios. They are buried at the monastery. Their monastery was built on the ruins of monastery of Ravdouchou that had been plundered by pirates during the years of Frankish occupation after the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204.
The katholikon within the monastery walls, which dates from the fourteenth century, is dedicated to the Transfiguration of Our Lord. Due to a paucity of space the church is small. It is of Athonite style and has frescos painted by artists of the Macedonian school. The murals were restored in 1854 by the painter Mathaeos of Naousa.
The refectory was built in 1841. The monastery also has eight chapels within its walls and seven more around the monastery placed among the many hermit huts. The skete of the Prophet Elijah also belongs to the Pantokrator monastery.
Pantokrator monastery was seriously damaged by a fire in 1773 and was repaired by the vestry keeper Kyrillos. Damage from a 1948 fire was repaired by the Restoration Service.
The Pantokrator library holds some 350 codices, two liturgical scrolls, and 3,500 printed books. A few codices have been stolen in recent years. Among the vestments, liturgical objects, and relics of saints, the monastery holds a unique and valuable icon of the Virgin Gerontissa and part of the shield of St. Mercurius.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.