Monfero Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery dedicated to Mary, Mother of Jesus. In the 10th century on the site of an earlier hermitage a Benedictine monastery was founded, dedicated to Saint Mark, and supported by king Bermudo II. It was destroyed by Norman raids, but later reconstructed under Alfonso VII in 1134 in collaboration with several nobles, including Alfonso Bermúdez, Count Pedro Osório and the Counts of Traba, who endowed it.
The abbey joined the Cistercian order in 1147 as a daughter house of Sobrado Abbey, of the filiation of Clairvaux.
In the 17th century the Romanesque monastery was struck by lightning and destroyed. It was rebuilt between 1620 and 1658 in the Baroque style. In 1805 the church was again struck by lightning and damaged.
The dissolution of the monasteries carried out by the government of Mendizábal brought the abbey to an end in 1835.
The present building complex, a landmark of Monfero, is essentially that of the 17th century, constructed mostly of granite and slate on a site of outstanding natural beauty. The church, which continues in operation, is built on the plan of a Latin cross with a single nave and two side aisles, and has a distinctive and well-known Baroque west front with four enormous half-pillars and two half-pilasters with a chequered design of inlaid tiles. The Baroque main altar was made in 1666. The church contains four Gothic tombs of the de Andrade family. The former conventual buildings lie to the south of the church. Of the three cloisters that were once here, only a fragment remains of the Romanesque one.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.