Convento de San Esteban is a Dominican monastery situated in the Plaza del Concilio de Trento. The Dominicans settled in Salamanca in about 1255, but their original monastery was demolished to construct the parish church of St. Stephen in 1524, at the initiative of Cardinal Juan Álvarez de Toledo. Construction took until 1610.
Although the church is considered to be an excellent example of the Plateresque style, the long period of construction explains the mixture of styles ranging from Gothic to the late Baroque, the latter not so noticeable in the architecture but very apparent in the reredos of the main altar by José de Churriguera. According to tradition, Christopher Columbus stayed in this monastery (actually in the earlier building it replaced) when he came to Salamanca to defend his idea of reaching the Indies by sailing west, against the geographers of the University. During the Counter Reformation it was an important center where for the Dominicans who founded the School of Salamanca, headed by Francisco de Vitoria.
The facade comprises the front of the church and the adjacent monastery portico. The front the church is one of the finest examples of the Plateresque style.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.