Beauty for the eye and soul, leaves no one indifferent
Unique in their architecture, sculpture and ornamentation, frescoes, icons, manuscripts and numerous works of applied art, the monasteries of Serbia have long been a focus of attention for tourists and mediaeval art experts alike. The architecture of mediaeval Serbian monasteries is particularly varied. During the 13th and into the 14th century some of the most striking churches were built, whose proportions and decorative façade and sculptural work suggest Romanesque influence (Studenica, Banjska, Dečani, Gradac, Arilje, Mileševa, Sopoćani and others). These are referred to as belonging to the Raška School. The first half of the 14th century during the reign of King Milutin saw the construction of works of exceptional architecture and artwork, such as Gračanica.
The period after 1371 saw the rise of a characteristic architectural style called the Morava School in the Morava river valley, with its multicoloured façades and decorative relief work, (e.g. Ravanica, Lazarica, Ljubostinja and Kalenić). Mediaeval monasteries and churches are not just features on the landscape of Serbia, they are features of the soul of Serbia, as well as being art galleries in a very real sense. The frescoes and icons in Serbia’s churches are a significant part of Serbia’s cultural, historical and national wealth.
One of the greatest Serbian Orthodox holy places is Hilandar, a Serbian monastery located on the northern part of the ‘Holy Mountain’ of Mount Athos – a ‘monastic republic’ formed of 20 major monasteries, situated on the third leg of the Halkidiki peninsula in northern Greece. The monastery of Hilandar was built by Stefan Nemanja and his sons, the monk Sava and Stefan Prvovenčani (‘the First-Crowned’) in 1198.Hilandar monastery www.hilandar.org
STUDENICA – UNESCO Heritage Studenica is situated on the right bank of the rivulet Studenica, on the road Kraljevo-Raska. The katholikon of Studenica monastery was built between 1183 and 1196. Its founder and ktetor was Stefan Nemanya, the Grand Prince of Serbia. It ranks among the most precious monuments of the architectural school of Raška. The form of the Church of the Virgin is that of a domed single-nave basilica, comprising the altar space and the narthex, whereas the exonarthex was later added by the King Radoslav.Two architectural styles – the leading Western Romanesque and Eastern Byzantine – reconcile to harmoniously create the unique appearance of the Church of the Virgin. This pleasing combination of the two architectural conceptions produced a specific architectural style known as Raška School. The monastery complex encompasses two guest houses intended for the visitors. Unfortunatelly, over the past time, the treasures of the formerly rich treasury of Studenica monastery have either disappered or have been destroyed.
A number of items in the exhibition are in the Serbian, Turkish, Russian, Romanian and German languages, among which stand out some extravagantly adorned Russian and Romanian charters that stand as evidence of extensive monastery connections In 1986 Studenica monastery was enlisted as the UNESCO world heritage site. www.manastirstudenica.rs
DJURDJEVI STUPOVI –UNESCO Heritage The monastery Djurdjevi Stupovi was founded by Stefan Nemanja, Grand Duke, founder of the dynasty Nemanjić, who dedicated the church to St. George, for having him out of dungeons-caves where his brothers shut him. Following that conflict with his brothers, Stefan Nemanja took over the power of the Grand Zupan of Raška.
Stefan Nemanja. It was build in 1180s on a forested hillside above the city of Novi Pazar. It has been and renovated in 18th century.
In 1979. the monastery Djurdjevi Stupovi was enlisted as the UNESCO world art heritage site, part of world’s cultural legacy and with cultural and historical sites Stari Rad and Sopoćani monastery. www.stupovi.rs
MILEŠEVA monastery is situated in the vicinity of Prijepolje, between the mounts Zlatar and Jadovnik, on the banks of the river Milesevka. It was commissioned by King Vladislav Nemanjic, grandson of Nemanja and son of Stefan Prvovenčani. Mileševa is one of the most important centres of spirituality and art of the Serbian people. The monastery gained widespread popularity when the relics of St Sava were transferred there from Trnovo in 1236. In 1595 the Turks took the bones to Belgrade and burnt them in Vračar. A press operated in the monastery in the 16th century, in which liturgical books were printed. Until 1228, the naos and narthex boasted frescoes of exceptional beauty. The fresco of the White Angel on the Grave of Christ is a masterpiece of 13th century Serbian and European art. When it was first carried out satellite broadcasting TV pictures from the former Yugoslavia, first shown was a picture of White Angel.
RAVANICA is situated near Cuprija, at the foot of Kučaj mountain. This monastery with its Church of the Holy Assumption and the buildings encircled with the strong seven-tower fortification wall is the endowment of Duke Lazar. The church was built between 1375 and 1377 and the frescoes were painted in the years preceding the Kosovo Battle. Modified composition of the monastery founders was painted later, after the death of Tsar Lazar. With its architectural and art characteristics, the Ravanica Church had been the first example of the newly introduced Morava School of Arts style.
SOPOĆANI –UNESCO Heritage Sopocani monastery is located at the spring of the river Raska 15 km outside Novi Pazar, on the ridges of mount Golija. The Holy Trinity Church was founed by Uros I Nemanjic circ 1255. It was fresco-painted between 1263 and 1268. Sopoćani was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance and was enlisted as the UNESCO world art heritage site
ŽIČA is located 4 km south of Kraljevo on the road above the river Ibar between Kraljevo and Mataruska banja. The monastery is dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ, founded by the king Stefan the First Crowned together with his brother St Sava between 1208. and 1215. This is monastery of significant importance to the history and church of Serbs. This is where Saint Sava, the first archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which had been recognized as independent in 1219, established a Seat of the Serbian Church, had his brother crowned as king of the Serbs and consecrated bishops of the newly founded eparchies. The architecture of Žiča belongs to the Raška school of arts and its façade walls were painted red in resemblance to the architecture of Athos Mount.
The church has seven doors. Each door was used as an entrance by only one king and walled up after his death. Seven Serbian kings were crowned and enthroned on the premises. www.zica.org.rs
Monasteries – cradle of Serbian Orthodox Christianity and culture at Kosovo –UNESCO Heritage
Monastery Dečani Monastery Visoki Dečani is located in Metohia, in the valley of the river Bistrica, surrounded by the rigdes of mount Prokletije. It is the largest and the best preserved serbian medieval monastery. The church, dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ, was commissioned by the Holy King Stefan Decanski and built between 1327. and 1335. www.zaduzbine-nemanjica.rs/Decani
Gračanica Monastery build in 1310. It is located 5 km east of Pristina in the village of the same name.
Patriarchate of Pec The monastery complex comprises four churches built in 13th and 14th century. It is situated in beautiful ravine near the river Bistrica and had been the core of Serbian Orthodox Church. In the aftermath of the Second World War once thriving monasterial seat was turned into feminine monastery.