Pavia Cathedral is the largest in the city and seat of the Diocese of Pavia. The construction was begun in the 15th century on the site of two pre-existing Romanesque, 'twin' cathedrals (Santo Stefano and Santa Maria del Popolo). The marble facing of the exterior was never completed.
Until recently, next to the cathedral stood the Civic Tower (Torre Civica), known in 1330 and enlarged in 1583. It collapsed on March 17, 1989.
The cathedral was begun in 1488, under architect Cristoforo Rocchi, who was soon replaced by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo and Gian Giacomo Dolcebuono. The original project, with a nave and two aisles flanked by semicircular niches and a large central dome, was influenced by Bramante, some details of it later appearing in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Leonardo da Vinci is also known to have contributed to the project.
In 1521, the altar area was completed by Gianpietrino Rizzi, a pupil of Da Vinci. By the 17th century, the presbytery had been completed but only in the following century was the tambour built, while the dome itself and the facade had to wait for the 19th century. The dome was designed by Carlo Maciachini and completed in 1885, but partially collapsed the same year. In 1930, construction continued with the two arms of the transept, for which the original plan was followed, although using reinforced concrete (in order to save the remains of the medieval Santa Maria del Popolo). The arms are still missing part of the internal marble decoration.
The church is on the Greek Cross plan: it therefore has the same length and width at the transept. The central dome, with an octagonal plan, is 97 m tall, with a total weight of some 20,000 tons.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.