The Basilica di San Vincenzo is an rare example of local Romanesque architecture, founded in 1007.
Starting from the 2nd century, the worship of ancient gods such as Jupiter, Minerva and the Capitoline Triad was replaced by the Christian religion, in particular during the evangelization effort of Ambrose in the late 4th century. In the 5th century a Palaeo-Christian basilica, acting as the pieve of Cantù, existed in the site, perhaps with a baptstry. Of this structure, the black and white marble pavement remains in the current edifice's presbytery.
The current church was begun in the 10th century. The basilica was re-consecrated by Aribert, archbishop of Milan, who at the time was likely the hereditary tenant of the edifice: this is testified by the presence of graffitoes under the apse's frescoes, which mention the death of his father, brother and nephew.
The church was nearly ruined at the time of archbishop Charles Borromeo (1560–1584). Later it was abandoned and used as peasants' store and lost the small right aisle in a fire. Other sections went lost during the French occupation in the early 19th century, when they were considered of no artistic interest and sold to private collectors. The basilica was acquired by the comune of Cantù in 1909 and restored in 1933–1934.
The church has a simple and undecorated façade, in rough cobblestones. In the center is a portal with an architrave and an ogival lunette. The apse protrudes substantially from the main body. It features an archaic type of Lombard bands, with isolated arches characterized by pilasters that connect them to the ground. There are three windows which give light to the crypt: these are slightly different from those of the nave, due to the presence of a slight internal slope. The only remaining side apse is partly visible at the right.
The crypt, and subsequently the presbytery, are more elevated than in other Romanesque buildings. The crypt has two halls with cross vaults, above which, originally, were two ambons: today only part of the left one remains, with a marble eagle which once supported the lectern.
The church is known for the frescoes which cover the nave's walls and the apse. The latter are likely earlier than the former, as testified by the different style. The apse frescoes show two bands of pictures with animals and vegetable motifs. They are surmounted by a praying Jesus within an almond frame. Jesus is wearing sandals, an uncommon feature of such depictions. He is flanked by two old men, the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, behind whom are the two archangels Michael and Gabriel and two crowds. The lower walls of the apse show a short cycle of stories of St Vincent of Saragossa. The fourth panel features St Aribert offering a model of the church to God: the upper part of this scene is now at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana of Milan.
Next to the church is the contemporary Baptistry of St John, which was built at the same time. Its plan is inspired by that of the 9th century Santa Maria presso San Satiro in Milan, although in a simplified form: a cruciform shape with a square hall limited by four isolated columns and four perpendicular arches, and four semicircular niches. The western niche opens to the interior, from which stairs lead to the matronei (tribunes in the upper floor), which are not present in San Satiro. The interior ends with a dome, externally covered by an octagonal drum with four windows and small arches.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.