The Monastery of Xeropotamou is one of twenty monasteries on the Mount Athos peninsula and is located on the southwestern side of the peninsula. It is eighth in hierarchical rank among the monasteries. The katholikon of the monastery is dedicated to the memory of the Forty Holy Martyrs.
While tradition accords its founding to the Empress Pulcheria in mid-5th century, Xeropotamou Monastery is believed to have been established at the end of the 10th century, by a monk named Paulos Xeropotamenos. Xeropotamou prospered until the 13th century when it was occupied and pillaged by the Franks. The monastery was supported in a revival in the 14th century by the Byzantine Roman Paleologan dynasty and Serbian princes. Then, after the fall of Constantinople further raids by the Turks and major fires in 1507 and 1609 caused major damage to Xeropotamou which had gone in decline.
Kaisarios Dapontes built the katholikon at Xeropotamou between 1761 and 1763. The church is typical of the Anthonite churches on the peninsula. The frescos were finished during the twenty years after the construction of the katholikon and have been kept in very good condition. Across a courtyard in front of the katholikon is the refectory built by the Wallachian abbot Alexander. The monastery suffered damage from fires recently in 1950 and 1973.
There are seven chapels within the monastery proper. These chapels are dedicated to the Archangels, Ss. Constantine and Helen, the Elevation of the Holy Cross, St. John the Baptist, St. Theodosios, St. George, and the Presentation of the Virgin. The monastery has external nine chapels and owns the port of Daphne.
The monastery library and treasury are located above the narthex of the katholikon. The library contains 409 manuscript codices, of which 20 are written on parchment, and some 4,000 printed books. Xeropotamou holds a number of pieces of the True Cross, including the largest piece. This piece, which contains one of the holes left by the nails that fastened Christ to the Cross, is set in a wooden crucifix. Additionally there are many relics of saints, episcopal staffs, vestments and liturgical objects in the monastery treasury.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.