The Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs was an influential monastery established in what is now the city of Paris. Its surviving buildings are considered treasures of Medieval architecture in the city.
The oldest known structure on the site was a chapel dedicated to St. Martin of Tours, founded during the Merovingian dynasty, which appears in a text of 710. At a date which remains unknown, a community of monks became established there around the chapel. The abbey they founded was pillaged and destroyed by Norman invaders during the late 10th century.
In 1060, King Henry I of France chose to rebuild the complex of the former abbey, intending it then to be a priory of canons regular. At that era, it still remained outside the walls of the city, thus its designation as des champs (in the fields). In 1079 the priory was given to St. Hugh of Cluny and became a Benedictine community, which developed into one of the major houses of the Congregation of Cluny, The priory soon gained major landholdings throughout the region, becoming second in importance only to the Royal Abbey of St-Denis.
The priory church was completed in 1135, having a choir section with a double ambulatory, topped by a simple ribbed arch. The nave was completed during the 13th century, as was the refectory of the priory. The later two are attributed to Pierre de Montreuil. These are the only surviving portions of the monastic complex today.
The priory maintained a major presence in the religious and social life of Paris. It became the site of the last officially sanctioned trial by combat in France in 1386, when both the king and the Parliament of Paris authorized such a contest between the knights Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, when the former charged the latter with raping his wife.
Over time, the priory fell subject to the system of commendatory abbots and became the property of a number of titular priors. The famous Cardinal Richelieu can be counted among their number.
The priory was suppressed in 1790 under the new laws of the French Revolution, and the buildings were used as a prison. The monastic walls and dormitories was soon torn down.
The surviving structures of the priory became the home of the Museum of Arts and Crafts, which opened there in 1802. The original Foucault Pendulum was housed there from 1855 until it was irreparably damaged in 2010.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.