The Abbey of Saint-Savin-en-Lavedan was a Benedictine abbey in the commune of Saint-Savin and one of the most important religious centres in the County of Bigorre. The abbey dates at least from the 10th century, and it was built by order of Charlemagne on the site of an ancient Gallo-Roman fortress. In 841, the abbey was looted and burnt by the Normans, and previously by the Saracens.
In 945, Count Raymond I of Bigorre gave the abbey a generous endowment consisting of a territory known as the Pascal de Saint-Savin, which was made of the eight villages. The church of Saint-Jean-de-Saint-Savin became their communal church.
In 1080 the abbey was united to the Abbey of St. Victor, Marseille. In 1130 Bernard d'Arcizas and Centule II, Count of Bigorre, confronted the abbot and the inhabitants of the Val d'Azun over a burial. Queen Marguerite of Navarre (1492–1549) took refuge in the abbey from a flood. From the thirteenth century, the abbey still controlled the territory of seven villages.
From the 16th century the abbey suffered due to the destruction associated with the French Wars of Religion and relaxed its discipline, although there were attempts to restore it in the 17th century by the monks of the Congregation of St. Maur.
Only three monks remained living in the abbey in 1790. In the following year, the church and the monastic buildings were converted for the use of the parish. Part of the abbey was sold for a stone quarry and the chapter house became a stable. In 1854, a strong earthquake caused further destructions. Prosper Mérimée took charge of its restoration in 1855.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.