Rüeggisberg Priory was founded between 1072 and 1076 by Lütold of Rümligen. He granted the property and estates to Cluny Abbey making it the first Cluniac house in the German-speaking world. Under Cuno of Siegburg and Ulrich of Zell the first cells were built. Construction of the Romanesque church lasted from about 1100 to about 1185, of which there still remain the north transept and parts of the crossing tower. The Priory was dependent on Cluny Abbey and normally had a prior and two to four monks from Cluny. In 1148, it had two priories that were dependent on Rüeggisberg, in Röthenbach im Emmental and Alterswil.
At its peak the priory controlled estates throughout what is now the Canton of Bern, including Guggisberg, Alterswil, Plaffeien and Schwarzenburg as well as scattered farm houses and vineyards on the shores of Lake Biel.
The priory was one of the most important monastic houses of Switzerland during the Middle Ages, but in the late medieval period decline set in, and in 1484 it was incorporated into the newly built college of the Augustinian Canons of Bern Minster. By 1532, when much of the town was destroyed in a fire, the Priory was abandoned. The church was shut down in 1541 during the Reformation. The monastic buildings thereafter served as a source of building stone and partly as a barn.
Between 1938 and 1947 on an archaeological dig the old foundations were again laid bare, as may be seen in the little museum next to the rectory.
The ruins are generally open to the public, though they may be reserved for picnics or other gatherings. Each November an advent market is held in the ruins and over the years a variety of open air plays and concerts have been held here. Between Easter and September, church services are held monthly in the ruins.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.