The Greek Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Przemyśl serves as the mother church of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Peremyshl-Warsaw.
The church was built in the 17th century by the Jesuit order and dedicated to St. Ignatius. After Przemyśl fell under Austrian rule and the suppression of the order in 1773 it slowly fell into ruins and in 1820 was closed by Austrians and turned into a storehouse. With the gradual democratization of region in the second half of the 19th century plans appeared to restore the church, finally carried out in 1903 and in 1904 the former Jesuit church was reconsecrated in 1904 as Sacred Heart of Jesus. After World War II it served as a garrison church and also offered a weekly Mass in the Byzantine Rite for Ukrainian Catholics whose church had been closed by the communist government.
In 1991 the church was subject of a controversy, when the Roman Catholic Church (with personal oversight by pope John Paul II) decided to donate the building to the Greek Catholic population in Przemyśl, to serve as the cathedral of the Archeparchy of Peremyshl-Warsaw in place of the Carmelite Church, which after World War II has returned to the Carmelites. After this decision, local Polish nationalists blockaded the entrance to the Greek Catholics and organized a hunger strike. After several weeks of debate and negotiation they desisted.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.