Medieval monasteries and churches, witnesses of the rise and fall of Serbian empire and state, are very important part of a culture that Serbia is proud of
The unique position on the crossroads between the East and the West has put Serbia in the center of a historical stage where different nations encountered, leaving behind authentic traces of spiritual culture. However, Serbia and Serbian orthodox church can be most proud of its monasteries – from Studenica and Sopoćani to the Patriarchate of Peć; from the monasteries on Mt. Fruška Gora to Manasija, Ravanica and Žiča. Built in the Middle Ages, these monasteries testify of rise and fall of the Serbian Empire and state. They were built by rulers to celebrate the glory of the saints, but also as their eternal resting places.
Studenica is one of the most important Serbian Orthodox monasteries. Many other Serbian monasteries are built on the model of this one. It was built in the late 12th century by the prominent Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the dynasty Nemanjic. Apart from religious functions, the monastery was a cultural and medical center of the medieval Serbian state, and the mausoleum of the dynasty.
The monastery was built in a specific style of architecture, known as “Raska school”, which combines the influence of Western Romanesque and the Eastern Byzantine tradition. The Romanesque decoration of Saint Marry’s church in Studenica monastery represents one of the richest programmatic and stylistic creations in the Serbian Medieval art. Frescoes inside churches are considered as the finest portraits of the middle ages and the master-pieces of the Byzantine art. Because of its great importance and extraordinary beauty, UNESCO places Studenica monastery on the List of the World Cultural Heritage, in 1986.
The monastery is located in central Serbia, 200 km south of Belgrade in the so-called “Valley of the Kings”. It is surrounded by breathtaking mountains, rippling water and preserved nature.
It was built by the first King of Serbia, Stefan the First-Crowned and the first Head of independent Serbian Church, Saint Sava. King Stefan was crowned in Žiča in 1217, what made Serbia the sovereign country in the Christian world. The monastery was known for its seven doors due to the fact that every time the Serbian King was crowned he had entered through a separate door. It is also famous for its red fasade. Žiča monastery was devastated and renovated many times in the history. It is situated near city of Kraljevo at the entrance to so-called “Valley of the Kings” in central Serbia. Žiča monastery was declared a Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance in 1979.
Mileševa monastery was built by a medieval king Vladislav who comes from a famous Serbian Nemanjic dynasty. It became the second most important Serbian monastery when it received the relics of the famous Saint Sava, the founder of the medieval dynasty Nemanjic. It had important political and educational role in some periods of history. The church is especially famous for its fresco paintings, which are among the greatest masterpieces of Europe in the Middle Ages. The famous fresco of White Angel was a part of the first satellite image of Europe which was sent to the United States after the establishment of a satellite link between the two continents in 1962. The figure of the Angel on Christ’s tomb with the skillfulness of drawing, harmony of colors and spirituality of expression emanates with nearly a transcendent beauty. It is located in southwest Serbia, near the town of Prijepolje, surrounded by pristine nature of the valley of Mileševka river.
The Sopoćani monastery is located in central Serbia, next to Novi Pazar. Frescoes of the Sopoćani monastery, which was named after the old Slavic word for spring, are world famous masterpieces of art. The Sopoćani Monastery, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, is an endowment of Serbian king Stefan Uroš I (1243-12769. The monastery was built near the source of the river Raška, 17 kilometers from the town of Novi Pazar. The endowment of the third son of King Stefan Prvovenčani surpasses all others with its beauty and grandeur. The frescoes in the monastery are a true masterpiece of art that have brought international fame to the Sopoćani monastery. Today this is one of the most important cultural monuments that was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. It can’t be said with certainty when the monastery was built but it was probably around the year of 1260. These conclusions were made based on the fact that the frescoes were painted in the 60-ties of the 13th century. The Sopoćani monastery represents an exceptional example of the Raška school.
Mt. Fruška Gora, a delightful mountain that rules the Vojvodina plane, proudly keeps 16 late medieval monasteries, Krušedol being one of them. Snow and rain washed the colors off their walls, conquerors burnt them down and demolished them, but neither menaces nor people managed to destroy these magnificent monuments of Serbian culture. Probably the most significant among them is the Krušedol monastery, which construction in the 15th century was initiated by Despot Djordje Branković and his mother Angelina. This, today a female monastery, is dedicated to the Christian holiday Annunciation Day, commemorating the announcement of the Incarnation by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary.
It is one of the oldest shrines in Serbia. It is an endowment of famous Serbian ruler and founder of the ruling Nemanjic dynasty, Stefan Nemanja and his great-grandson King Dragutin. The monastery was built with many architectural and artistic innovation for that period, including two majestic towers by which the monastery was named after (“Djurdjevi stupovi” is translated as The Pillars of Saint George). Because of all this, UNESCO placed Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery on the List of the World Cultural Heritage, in 1979. The monastery was destroyed several times during wars and in recent years started a huge reconstruction campaign inviting Serbs and all other people with spiritual sense to help with the restoration. It has an unusual position dominating the wooded hill above today’s oriental city of Novi Pazarin southwest Serbia, in an area that was once the centre of the medieval Serbian state.