Michaelsberg Abbey is situated on the Michaelsberg ('St. Michael's Mount'), about 40 metres above the town of Siegburg. The hill was first inhabited about 800 by the Counts of Auelgau, who built a castle there. In 1064 the Archbishop of Cologne, Anno II of Cologne, founded a monastery there, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, from whom both the mountain and the abbey henceforward took their names. He appointed the monk Erpho (died 1076) as the first abbot. Anno himself died at the abbey in 1075 and was buried there.
Archbishop Anno was canonized in the abbey church in 1183. At this time his remains were translated to the Chapel of St. Anno, which can still be seen in the abbey church. By this time, however, the early spirit of these founders was beginning to dim among the monks. The community had developed a luxurious lifestyle, one which was so open that they were publicly criticized by a nearby Cistercian abbey.
During the 14th century, after a long legal battle, the abbey was recognized as an Imperial abbey (that is, directly subject to the Holy Roman Emperor alone). This led to bitter rivalry, and on occasion even war, with the town of Siegburg. In 1676 the abbey again became subject to the local territorial power. During the period of the Thirty Years' War, the abbey became a center of literary and musical studies.
The abbey was suppressed during the German Mediatisation of 1802–03. Until their resettlement by Cistercian monks on 2 July 1914, the buildings were used for varied purposes, for some time as a barracks, but also at other times as a lunatic asylum and a slaughterhouse. The new monks came from the Abbey of Merkelbeeck in the Netherlands to establish a monastery there again. This was not an easy endeavor, as part of the abbey was soon taken over for use as a military hospital during World War I.
In 1941 the abbey was again dissolved, this time by the Schutzstaffel (SS); the monks were expelled and the buildings commandeered. The buildings were almost completely destroyed by a bombing raid in 1944, although they were in use as a military hospital and flying the flag of the Red Cross. In 1945 the monks who had been expelled four years previously were finally able to return, some from captivity as prisoners of war, others from exile. They had to rebuild the monastery virtually from scratch.
Benedictine life on the Michaelsberg the monastery was dissolved in 2011.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.