The Gagra Church, also known as Abaata, is an early medieval Christian church at Gagra in Abkhazia, Georgia. One of the oldest churches in Abkhazia, it is a simple three-nave basilica built in the 6th century and reconstructed in 1902.
The Gagra church stands in the territory of the contemporaneous fortress known as Abaata, now completely in ruins. It is built of blocks of rough ashlar stone. The main entrance is from the westerly located narthex. All three navesare connected with each other via doors. The main nave is lit through three windows in the southern wall and with one window, each on the western wall and in the altar. The church have many common architectural features with similar basilicas in eastern Georgia.
The church was completely reconstructed in 1902 at the behest of Princess Eugenia Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg, wife of Duke Alexander Petrovich of Oldenburg, a member of the Russian imperial family, who turned Gagra into a spa. On 9 January 1903 it was consecrated as the Church of Saint Hypatius. At the same time, the old fortress of Abaata was demolished to pave way to the construction of a hotel. In the Soviet era, the church building was used as a museum of old weaponry. The church underwent some renovation in 2007 and it was restored to Christian use in 2012.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.