Valbuena Abbey was founded in 1143 by Estefanía, daughter of Count Ermengol V of Urgell, and settled from Berdoues Abbey in France, of the filiation of Morimond. Valbuena received a number of privileges shortly after its foundation, and flourished to the point where it was able to settle three daughter houses of its own.
In the 14th century a decline set in. Valbuena remained a daughter house of Berdoues until 1430, when the Castilian Cistercian Congregation was established; thereafter it was a daughter house of Poblet Abbey.
The abbey was dissolved under the anti-ecclesiastical Mendizábal government in 1835.
The church became a parish church. The conventual buildings passed into private ownership and were eventually acquired by a Baron Kessel, who sold them to Juan Pardo, who looked after them until 1950, when the Instituto Nacional de Colonización acquired the site and buildings for settlement purposes. In 1967 the Archdiocese of Valladolid took possession of the monastery buildings, and in 1990 leased them to the foundation Las Edades del Hombre.
The building complex, which was more or less complete by 1230, and most of which still stands, comprises the church, built from 1149 onwards, the conventual buildings, the guest wing, dormitories and the lay brothers' area. The groin-vaulted church of three aisles in four bays, with a barrel-vaulted transept and a crossing which was heightened in the Renaissance and covered with a cupola, is largely in accordance with the usual Cistercian building practice. The church also has an unusually large semi-circular apse, between two smaller semi-circular side apses, and also a rectangular side-chapel, built in 1165. The nave is in the early Gothic style. The west front has a portal with a pointed arch and several archivolts, over which is a large oculus in a blind arch.
The chapter house and the day room are also groin-vaulted, while the refectory on the south side of the complex has a pointed barrel-vaulted roof of four bays. The cloister has two storeys. The Capilla San Pedro chapel contains an arcosolium with a mural of a king from the period of around 1270. The lay brothers' wing was removed in the Renaissance to make room for a second courtyard. By the river stand the ruins of the abbot's house, dating from the 16th century.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.