Friday, December 30, 2011


    Petkovica Monastery was built at the south-western part of Fruška Gora Mountain, close to the stream of Remeta, between villages of Divoš and Šišatovac. The most intense life in Petkovica Monastery was carried out at the end of the 16th century. Later due to smaller number of monks it was deserted to be visited only for the feasts of the shrine at the beginning of the 20th century. The monastery church was dedicated to St. Petka /celebrated 14/27. October). According to the legend, Jelena Štiljanović, widow of late Despot Stefan Štiljanović was the founder of the monastery. She spent her last years in Petkovica Monastery as nun. This could be dated to the first quarter of the 16th century. The exact time of construction of the Monastery is not known.

  Petkovica Monastery was first mentioned in Turkish records in 1566-67 but only in regard with the monastery estate. Inscription on the western wall of naos of Petkovica Monastery testify on the completion of fresco decoration in 1588 during the Prior Akakije when the monastic refectory was built. After those documents there are no more historical evidences on this quiet and spiritual monument. Historical fact testiry that at the end of the 17th century Sinan-beg of Mitrovica wanted to destroy the monasteries of Petkovica and Kuveždin to use its stone for construction of his residence but he decided to charge monastery with the summ of 100 groshes per year according to the Mitropolitan Pajsije's requests.

  During the time of the Patriarch Arsenije III Čarnojević Petkovica Monastery was abandoned so the Patriarch adviced the Abbot of the Kuvedzin Monastery to restore Petrovica Monastery. Most of documents about Petkovica Monastery is provided during the church visitation in 1753 in which it is known that the iconostatis date from 1735 by donation of Milinko Vuckovic from the village of Suljam. The iconostasis was destroyed in the Second World War and only woodcarved croos is preserved which is nowadays kept in the Church of St Stefan in Sremska Mitrovica. In the same report the church itself and the dormitories on the western and the southern sides are carefully described. Dormitories west from the Church were built of combination of stone and brick as well as chirch was built while the dormitory on the southern side represents the small structure built of wood and covered with reed roof. First reconstructions on the southern dormitory are described in the "Desription of Fruska Gora Monasteries" from 1771 where it is recorded that this part contains three monastic cells and the structure was built of stone. In this record the Petkovica Monastery is said as the metochian of Šišatovac Monastery and kept that status even during the 19th century.

  Petkovica Monastery was first time rebuilt in 1884 during the reign of Abbot of Sisatovac Monastery Amfilohije Jeremić. Twenty years later dormitories have been destroyed so the Abbot Sergije Popić, asked for help to rebuilt the Monastery. But there is no records on the reconstrution until the year of 1927 when only the church surely was restored. The Church was damaged also in the Second World War.
    Petkovica Monastery Church belongs to the true traditional Serbian architecture and to the type of one-domed structure with the combination of inscribed cross base and the trilateral form. It has cross shape base with the four-sided outside apse and ieght-sided dome and rectangular bell tower over priprata. On the souther wall there are three niches whose construction was operated in the form of the Saracene arch which ir rather unusual style. The basic architectural elements of Petkovica Monastery Church provide evidences that the constructor possibly had found inspiration in the form of Lazarica Church.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


    The monastery, along with St. Stephen's Church was built between 1313 and 1317 and was founded by the Serb King Stefan Uroš II Milutin, one of the most powerful Balkan rulers of the period and one of the most powerful rulers of the entire Nemanjić dynasty. Milutin built the church as his burial place and it is there that he was first laid to rest. However, following the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 his body was moved to Trepča and then in 1460 to the Bulgarian city of Sofia, where it lies to this day.

     The monastery shared the fate of its founder. The monumental building with its church, library, monks' quarters and "imperial palace" began to fall into disrepair very early. At the beginning of the 15th century, a fire destroyed the library and in the second half of the same century the monastery was probably abandoned. Kuprešić, an author writing about his travels, mentions that the monastery was razed to the ground in the 16th century on the orders of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, as Christians who had fled Turkish slavery were gathering in it.

      St. Stephen's church, which was almost totally destroyed, was turned into a mosque in the 19th century and served as such until World War I. The first conservation activity was carried out in 1939 and again in 1990, when the church was partly rebuilt.
Banjska Monastery is one of the few for which the founding charter has been preserved. From it we can see that the monastery was granted a large estate at its founding, of 75 villages and 8 pastures.

     As the complex was built as the final resting place of a king, the Bishopric was "upgraded" to a stavropegial monastery - roughly translated, an Imperial Monastery, fourth by rank in the state (after Studenica, Mileševa and Sopoćani). The building works were led by Archbishop Danilo II, at that time a prior, later a Serb Archbishop. He was a close confidant of the king, as well as a man of letters and great knowledge. According to medieval sources, as well as oral tradition, Banjska was one of the most beautiful Serb monasteries, built in the style of the Raška school, which was used for all royal mausoleums, from Stefan Nemanja's Studenica monastery to Emperor Dušan's Saint Archangels Monastery.
Banjska Monastery was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1990, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


     Fruska Gora, the only mound of the otherwise flat Vojvodina (Pannonian Plain) has been the center of Serbian-orthodox spirituality for centuries. In an area of 50kn lenght and 10km width there are 16 monasteries built in the late Middle Age (even if legends tells that some of them were found as early as the 12th century) when Serbian culture was moving northward in response to the Ottoman onslaught.
     The monasteries were built in the style of the Moravian School and the first founders of the monasteries were the despots of the House of Brankovici (descendands of medieval rulers of the House of Nemanjic). In the 18th century many of the monasteries were rebuilt in Baroque Style, getting tall bell towers and intricate Baroque iconostases.
During WW II the monasteries suffered severe damage by the hands of the Ustashas and many valuable objects were taken. Today some of them active and are renovated, others are undergoing renovation and other are left as they are and no monks live there anymore.

  In this post I'd like to show some pictures of the best-known of them, located 13km of Sremski Karlovci, it's the Krusedol Monastery (Манастир Крушедол) and is known as the mausoleum of some famous Serbs.

   The monastery church is dedicated to the Annunciation and was errected 1504-1514 and is a good example of Moravian Style (however Baroque details were added later).
The monastery was founded between 1509 and 1516, by Bishop Maksim and his mother, Angelina Brankovic (the daughter of Orthodox Christian Prince of Albania, Skanderbeg) who were supported by Walachian Duke Jovan Njagoja Basaraba. During the final retreat of the Turks from Srem, in 1716, the monastery was damaged and the church burnt down.

    The renovation started in 1721, and was completed in the late 1760s. In 1726, a baroque bell-tower was added on to the West wing of the monks' quarters and between 1742 and 1750, the church underwent certain adaptations which did not significantly change its general original appearance. The monks' quartets were reconstructed and expanded in the same period.

   The church was originally decorated with fresco paintings in the 16th century. Its interior was covered with new oil wall paintings between 1750 and 1756, done by Ukranian painter Jov Vasilijevic and Stefan Tenecki.

    On the West facade, there is a composition of the "Last judgment" from the end of the 17th century. The iconostasis consists of icons from between 16th and 19th century and the Deesis (from early 1500) is a beautiful example of byzantine icons.

   The church is also the tomb of the Brankovic Family as well as Patriarchs Arsenije III and Arsenije IV and several members of the Obrenovic dynasty - Pricess Ljubica and King Milan.

Today Krusedol is a working woman's monastery.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


    It is situated on northern side of Pancevo, within the industrial circle of Pancevo’s raphinery. A small village Starcevo is 5,5 km away from it, and the mouth of two rivers, Tamish and Danube, is only 4 km away from it. According to a legend it was built in 1393. Monastery was burnt in a fire and it was renovated several times. Its foundation belongs to school of Rashka. This monastery is mentioned in many earlier documents and it is one of the oldest archeological monuments of Pancevo.
  Mentions and historical data: The monastery Voilovica was indirectly recorded for the first time in 1530. This is the oldest reliable record of today’s Pancevo for which it is quoted that it originates from this monastery. The oldest certain mention of the monastery comes from 1542 and it is established on the observation note taken from the collection of Bozidar Vukovic, published in Vienna from 1536 to 1538.
  " I, sinful monk Parentie, a prior of monastery Voilovica, bought this book for twenty crowns from monk Ilarion.In 7050, since the world creation, and in 1542 since the Christ’s birth, there were 36 monks, deacons and monarchs who lived with me, at that time".
     In Turksh cadastre there is a document which dates from 1566/67. It is quoted there that a monastery with a church of holy arhangels, situated near Pancevo, is accomodated by three monarchs who pay off annual tax of 500 akes to the emperor’s accounting division. In 1567(the same year) , kir Sava , a sinful prior, is mentioned.
  A Turkish document, written in 1579/80, records that the amount of tax giving remained the same and that brotherhood of monasteries is consisted of six monarchs together with a prior.
  XII century: A book called SKAZANIE ( it is written at the end of XV century or at the very beginning of XVI century and tells about the holy mountain in Athens) is connected to the monastery Voilovica. This valuable book is kept in a public library in Sophia. Information from the beginning of this century is saved, it is possible that this information comes from1607. According to it, there was a monastery school in Voilovica at that time. In the middle of XVII century the following note observation was written:
  " I, sinful Ananie monk in Sudenica, bought this prologue from bishop Joseph for ten crowns in1652 in the month of August in monastery Voilovica."
  In 1672, a note observation was written by one official magazine. According to that note protector Pamfutie gave the book (mentioned above) as a present to monastery Voilovica. In 1699, a prior of Voilovica, Victor, and 19 monks are mentioned. At that time the regularly paied a tribute to the Turcs. A sear with the inscription which originates from the very end of XVII century or from the very beginning of XVIII century says: "This is a seal of monastery Voilovica, a temple of the holy Archangels."
  XVIII: There is the following inscriptin written on one of the oldest preserved tombstones: "Stevan Obradovic, 1701." A book called ‘ The interpretation of Gospel’ was bought for the monastery in 1709. Here is the inscription which was written on one of the monastery crusifixtion: ‘This is a crusifixtionof a prior monk, kir Anastasie, who was born in Voilovica’.This inscription was written in 1710.
  The borders of monastery property were changed and drawn in 1765.According to these changes, the property eaw cosisted of plowed fields, pastures and woods. Its size was 1153 acres.
  In 1913, the monastery possesed 1230 acres. In 1914, the monastery has been closed down for two years. Between the two wars, from 1923 to the internation into the concetration camp Pahao, Serbian prior Gavrilo Dozic and his associates were emprisoned in Voilovica.
  Today’s holy dinning table, which was made of marble, dates from 1816. Tall belfry ,with a part of new priprata, was built onto the church in 1836. The newly made or added building on western side dates from 1841. In 1890, a small ‘chapel with a mill’ was built and added to the monastery property.This chapel remained till today. The monastery buildings where monks slept got their final look with all the renovations and enlargements from 1909 to 1911. This confirms that the situational plan from that period has been reserved. In 1981/88 the monastery was renovated for the last time.

Monday, December 26, 2011


   Klisura Monastery is located in Dobrača village, beside the road connecting Arilje and Ivanjica, between rocky terrains of mountains and the canyon of Moravica River /klisura/ after whom it got its name. Klisura Monastery is dedicated to St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel and was known by the name Dobrača Monastery in the past. The legend says that the monastery of Dobrača was founded by good man /dobar čovek/ who was servant of Nemanjic Dynasty. The most important object within the Klisura monastic complex is the relatively small Church of Saint Archangels. The Klisura Monastery church was built in the 13th century in Raska School of architecture by the pattern of nearby Church of St. Achilles in Arilje. The Church of Klisura Monastery has the free-cross base with the highly elevated eight-sided dome and the narthex to the west which is slightly narrower than the central naos and the wooden porch before the narthex/ added in the 18th century/.

   Rectangular chapels are on both northern and southern sides of the semicircular apse. The wooden belfry sits some 10 meters away from the church. Its structure is similar to the Church of St. Achilles and the Church of Pridvorica Monastery and Moraca and St. Trinity Monasteries. Klisura Monastery Church was built of limestone and was fresco decorated. Besides the patrons of the temple depictions and figures of Serbian saints and rulers there are depictions of various historical persons significant for the Serbian history and epic tradition. Precious icons are work of art of icon-painters Simeon Lazovic and Dimitrije Posnikovic. Here are also rare Russian icons kept. The portal itself is unique woodcarving work of art.

  The monastic complex of Klisura Monastery consists of the Church, the belfry, the dormitories, the Winter Chapel and economic buildings. During the Medieval period Klisura Monastery was connected with Arilje where in the 18th century there was the Episcopal seat /established by St. Sava/. Klisura Monastery was destroyed in the fire in 1688 to be deserted in 1690 after the Great Serbian Migration led by the Bishop Arsenije the Third.

    Klisura Monastery remained in ruins for a century to have been restored in 1798. Since 1961 Klisura Monastery is nunnery. Klisura Monastery has great cultural, historical and architectural importance of the artistic and monumental value bearing witness the artistic works and cultural issues of the South-western Serbia. The Patron Saint of Klisura Monastery /slava/ is celebrated every year that gathers many guests from area of Moravica, Arilje and Dragacevo.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


  Kaona Monastery, 100 km south-west from Belgrade, in the vicinity of Draginje village was built as legacy of Ikonia, the sister of Milos Obilic, famous Serbian hero who was killed in the Battle of Kosovo. The witness of the ancient time today Kaona Monastery is rebuilt and became spiritual center and gathering place of the Orthodox population. Since the end of 11th century, when the Kaona Monastery was for the first time mentioned, the church was destroyed end reconstructed several times.

Kaona Monastery had school in 1827 and there are some records that testify of the school from 1793. During the First Serbian Uprising Kaona Monastery was hospital. The Church of Kaona Monastery was destroyed in the First World War when the archive was set aflame and church bells were taken away.

       In the surrounding of the beautiful landscape, nearby the Baptistery building, there is a healing water spring (with water as one of the best quality in Serbia) passing through the monastery field and creating the specially tranquil lakes of magnificent beauty. The present church was built in early Christian stile, the first in Serbia after the seven centuries as a prototype of Baptistery from Theba of Thesaly. In 1992 the 100 years of the new church was celebrated as well as the six centuries of Kaona Monastery.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


  Gradac Monastery is situated on the wooded and secluded slopes of Golija Mountain on the place called by locals Petrov Krs. Gradac Monastery was built in the late 13th century, on the ruins of an earlier church. Gradac Monastery is the endowment of Queen Jelena Anzujska /Queen Helen Anjou/, French origin wife of the King Uros I. The Church of Gradac Monastery is dedicated to the Presentation of the Holy Virgin. In the architecture of the shrine of Gradac Monastery that is example of monumental Raska school of architecture there are numerous Gothic /Romanesque/ elements, especially on the portals and on all biforas /windows divided by a colonnete into two arches/.

  In the temple there is the marble sarcophagus where the St. Queen was buried. Her relics were moved from here during the Turkish invasion by monks and nowadays it is not clear where they are kept. The relics of King Dragutin /later monk St. Teoktist/ were brought to Gradac Monastery from Decani Monastery.

    The fresco decoration of the Gradac Monastery interior is considerably damaged but the endower's composition is still visible. The original stone iconostasis is preserved in primary edition. Gradac Monastery is nowdays functioning as a nunnery and in its glorious beauty represents one of the most attractive medieval Serb cultural and historical monuments and spiritual centers. Nuns happily live their evangelilic lifes and do icon-painting and handwork /weaving and gold-embroidery on silk/. During archaeological exploration of the Gradac Monastery undertaken in 2005 eight test trenches were opened, totaling 70 m2 on the outer side of St. Bogorodica /Holy Virgin/ Church.

    In addition to the medieval cultural layer and the Medieval cemetery that has been identified earlier, the prehistoric cultural layer with an overall thickness of 0,8 meter was also discovered. This prehistoric cultural layer with three building horizons and associated archaeological material, formed over a long period of time, from the very end of the early and throughout a large part of the developed Bronze Age. In the earliest prehistoric layers to which two building horizon belong Early Bronze Age pottery was found. "Days of Queen Jelena", the unique cultural event /manifestation/ is held at the beginning of May every year to celebrate the Queen and her endowment when numerous competitions in old crafts and knights' games are organized. Gradac Monastery is favorite destination in our tours.

Friday, December 23, 2011


     Draca is Serbian Orthodox monastery. It was founded probably in the second half of the 16th century, although the tradition links it with despot Stefan Lazarevic. The identity of monastery founder is lost, and the first monastery location is uncertain, but it is not its present day location.

     During the short period of so-called First Habsburg Serbia, in 1734, Stanisa Markovic Mlatisuma reestablished the monastery and erected the Church of Saint Nicholas on the foundation of an older church. Stanisa Markovic Mlatisuma was born in Montenegro, near Niksic. He joined Austrian army, and after the Austro-Turkish War and the signing of Treaty of Pozarevac, in 1718, he was promoted for his courage in battles, to the rank of obercaptain and he become the commander the south front of the Serbian police. After another war with Austria and the Belgrade Treaty, signed in 1739, Ottoman Empire regained power over Serbia. Stanisa Markovic Mlatisuma was accused for being unsuccessful in this war, and he died imprisoned in Osijek, two years later, in 1741. The site of his grave is not known, his name is not widely known as well, but his generous deed preserved his name from oblivion.

     In the late 18th century Turks set fire to the monastery and intentionally damaged the frescoes in the church. The reason for that brutal act was the refuge Koca Andjelkovic, the leader of Serb rebellion, had found in the monastery.

     The 19th century and the liberation of Serbia had brought the period of prosperity to the monastery. In the 4th decade of the 19th century Toma Vucic Perisic, hero from the First and the Second Serbian Uprising, financed the building of the bell tower, the new monastery inn and a fence.

     Nowadays Draca monastery is beautiful, maintained place, settled in the very nice green valley. Inside the fence there are Crkva Svetog Nikole – Church of Saint Nicholas, and two monastery inns. All of the monastery buildings have been restored in the second half of the 20th century.

     Draca Monastery is 9 km from Kragujevac, slightly off the road to Gornji Milanovac. It is easy to reach it by car, just by turning left when traveling from Kragujevac (there is brown sign with symbol), and then, simply, following the road.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


     Ćelije Monastery is situated on the bank of the River Gradac near the village of Lelić 5 km from Valjevo. According to one legend, the benefactor of the monastery was King Dragutin (1276-1282); however a second legend has it that the monastery was built in the late 14th or early 15th Century in the time of King Stefan Lazarevic. Monks from the monastery joined the First Serbian Uprising (against the Turks) in 1804.
    In 1791 the Turkish military commander of the Valjevo region called General Mahmud Bušatlija burnt ]elije and 13 other monasteries to the ground. Ćelija Monastery was rebuilt in 1793. Because the Monastery was used as a Serbian military hospital during the First Serbian Uprising of 1804 the Turks again burnt the monastery to the ground in 1810. In the following year of 1811 it was again rebuilt . The bell tower was built in 1926 at the north end of the monastery church. 
   The first Iconostas was painted by Petar Nikolajević Moler between the period of 1798 to 1800 however, In 1810 the Iconostas was destroyed by the Turkish Army. In addition to being an artist Moler fought, with the rank of a general, in the First Serbian Uprising. In the churchyard is the grave of Duke Ilija Birčanin, a famous leader, who was executed by the Turks at the Kolubara River in Valjevo in 1804.
  A school was opened at the monastery in 1966 which teaches artists the art of Icon painting and the monastery also publishes many religious works. Ćelije is now inhabited by Nuns. The monastery was also famous because a prominent theologist Archimandrite Justin Popović Ph.D. was its spiritual leader from 1948 to 1979. He is buried in the churchyard. Archimandrite Justin wrote many books on theology and is one of the founders of The Serbian Philosophers Society.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


    The monastery of Chilandar is first mentioned in a Greek manuscript of 1015, but as being "completely abandoned and empty", for which reason it was given to the monastery of Kastamonitou. It was certainly established a good hundred years earlier: a certain George Chelandarios (Boatman), mentioned among important Athonites in 980 was probably the founder of the monastery, which was subsequently called after him (h monh tou Celandariou). The monastery's name appears thus in Greek acts of the 11th and 12th centuries, but later, in the first Serbian sources, it takes the form of Hilandar (D. Anastasijevich). At that time the monastery was already dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple (November 21). The last appearance of the form Chelandar is in a Protaton act of 1169, the signatories of which included abbot Gerasimus of Chelandar. After this, the monastery declined and was abandoned, like many other small monasteries and kellia at Milees, as this part of Athos was called in the Middle Ages. Up till that time, the area had been prey to constant attacks by pirates and brigands of various kinds.

     Chilandar was renewed by the Grand Zhupan of Serbia Stefan Nemanja (the monk Simeon) and his son Rastko (St. Sava). Sava came to Athos in 1191 and was shorn in Roussikon, but soon moved to the Greek monastery of Vatopedi. Here he awaited his father, who had renounced the throne, entered the monastery of Studenica in Serbia in 1196, and in November the following year came to Athos as the megaloschemos (senior monk wearing the great habit) Simeon. Father and son immediately undertook all that was necessary to found a Serbian house on the Holy Mountain. First of all, early in 1198, Sava obtained from Emperor Alexius III in Constantinople a gold-sealed sigillion transferring the abandoned small monastery of Chilandar (Helandar) from the protos to Vatopedi, for the purpose of its restoration. The sigillion was accompanied by the appropriate documents: prostagma and praktikon (catastral document on the boundaries of Chilandar's estate). Work on the construction of Chilandar then commenced. Sava and Simeon managed to overcome Vatopedi's opposition to giving Chilandar to the Serbs with the aid of the Karyes protos and Assembly, who together sent a request to the emperor that Chilandar be handed over to Simeon and Sava. The latter personally requested Alexius to give the monastery the independent status enjoyed by Iviron (a Georgian monastery) and Amalfitans (Italian). Emperor Alexius agreed, and by a chrysobull of June 1198 placed Chilandar with all the holy places at Milees under the authority and administration of Simeon and Sava as a completely self-governing monastery, "to be a gift to the Serbs in perpetuity". Shortly after, in the latter half of 1198, Simeon Nemanja issued a gold-sealed charter to Chilandar constituting it as a Serbian monastery and the hereditary foundation of the Nemanjich family. At the same time, the nucleus of Chilandar's landed property was created: Alexius gave Simeon the serfs of nine villages in the Prizren district for Chilandar; in addition, the monastery was given two vineyards, four bee-farms, one mountain and 170 Vlach shepherds, together with some separate contributions of cattle and salt. Nemanja's son and successor on the Grand Zhupan's throne helped his father and brother to raise Chilandar as quickly as possible In this connection, the first abbot of Chilandar, Methodius (Metodije), visited Serbia in 1198.

    The economic basis of Chilandar's existence in the Middle Ages was its landed property. From the nine villages and other gifts in the Prizren region bestowed on the monastery by Simeon Nemanja's founding charter in 1198, Chilandar's estates expanded during the 13th and 14th centuries into the largest complex of monastic holdings in medieval Serbia, stretching "from Thes­salonica to north of Parachin". The precise size and economic potential of these estates have still not been studied, but they are known to have included huge areas of land in the Pech and Hvosno regions, in the Pomoravlje region (beside the River Morava), in the Thessalonica and Struma (Strymon) areas, and particularly on Chalcidice. By the beginning of the 15th century, Chilandar had over thirty metochia with 360 villages over which it exercised full feudal rights, "together with considerable judicial, administrative and financial privileges, so that it virtually constituted a state within a state" (R. Grujich). By the mid- 14th century, Chilandar possessed almost a fifth of the Athos peninsula alone, which means about 60 square kilometres.

  The rich archives of Chilandar monastery, with 172 Greek, 154 Serbian and two Bulgarian charters from the Middle Ages (the Russian and Romanian charters are of later date), combined with other sources, make it possible to reconstruct in considerable detail the monastery's history in the 13th and 14th centuries, and its growth in spiritual, economic and political importance. Without exaggeration, Chilandar may be described as the centre of medieval Serbia's spiritual life and an important intermediary and representative in Serbia's relations with Byzantium. Without its intermediary role, it is inconceivable that Serbia would have adopted Byzantine civilization and the classical heritage. As it was, the elite of the Serbian Church, literature and theology passed through Chilandar. In the eyes of Byzantium, Chilandar was a lasting proof of Serbian legitimacy, recognized and confirmed by imperial chrysobulls. Enjoying the status of a Byzantine "imperial lavra", this rich and independent monastery was Serbia's best diplomatic mission in Byzantium.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Crna reka

Crna Reka monastery is a hermitage in the midst of the south Serbian mountains situated in the gorge of the Black River. It is surrounded by high rocks and lush vegetation. It dates from 13th century when a small church dedicated to the Holy Archangel Michael was built in a big cave. Soon the monks hermits built their cells around the church and erected a small draw bridge over the dry bed of the Black River. By a great blessing og God the river disappears underground just in front of the monastery and reappears after several hundred meters of its underground flow and thus spares the monastery from the noise.

    The greatest treasure of the monastery are the holy and incorruptible relics of St. Peter of Korisha, a famous Serbian ascetic from the 13th century. Even today numerous pilgrims come to the monastery to seek healing and spiritual consolation from this great miracle-worker. In the 15th century Crna Reka was home for a time to a famous hesychast St. Ioanichios, who with his monks later moved to the area of today's Devic monastery.

     Crna Reka was deserted for a long time. It was only in 1979 that Fr. Artemy came to live there and gathered around himself a young brotherhood. After his election as bishop he took several monks and renewed other monasteries of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren. Today there are 18 brethren in the monastery who occupy themselves with prayer, icon painting and wood carving.

Monday, December 19, 2011

St. Nicolas monastery - Kursumlija

   Monastery of Saint Nicola in Kuršumlija is the first endowment of famous Stefan Nemanja, the founder of mighty Nemanjic Dynasty and of the Medieval Serbia. The Saint Nicolas Monastery is built in 1168 up the Toplica river in the northern part of town of Kursumlija.

  Saint Nicolas Monastery is one-nave structure, remarkable for its brick walls executed in Byzantine style with a low eight-sided dome. The main church was built for the demands of Orthodox rituals in a way which was common to Byzantine architecture. The single nave church with its cupola, in the rhythmic plan of its parts, with vestibules on the sides which were a novelty in Raska, and in its internal structure - the cupola, the arches, the highly developed substructure - has everything which is characteristic of Byzantine architecture, including inner walls of mixed materials (crystalline calcium carbonate and bricks).

Externally it is done in the Romanesque style. In 1219 it became the seat of the Serbian Bishopric when the nartex with two towers were added /under influence of St. Tryphon Catherdal in Kotor finished in 1167 and like pillars-towers added on St. George's Church in Ras only few years later/. In the 14th century the small chapel was built on the southern side probably to be the final place of rest for the endower. Unfortunately the fresco decoration was lost over the course of the centuries. The Church of the Mother of God established in 1159 as the nunnery by Ana Dondolo, the wife of Stefan Nemanja is nowadays only a picturesque ruin bearing witness of good passed times.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Prohor Pčinjski

     The monastery is situated on the wooded slopes of the mountain of Kozjak on the left bank of the river Pčinje, close to the river of Klenike, 30 km south of Vranje. According to tradition it was built in the 11th century by the Byzantine emperor Romanos IV Diogenes as a mark of gratitude to Saint Prohor who had prophesied that he would become emperor.
    The original church, raised above the grave of this renowned saint and missionary, has been restored a number of times. One of the most far-reaching restorations was carried out by King Milutin who in 1316 or 1317 employed the Thessalonian artists Mihail and Eutychus to paint the new church. After the Battle of Kosovo, the monastery was demolished by the Turks and restored in 1489 by one Marin of Kratovo. The frescoes painted at this time are considered some of the most important artistic creations of their time. There was a painters’ studio in the monastery in the 16th century, and the artists resident there created frescoes of great value in the chapel on the south side of the church.
    The imposing multi-domed church now standing here was built in 1898 and incorporated the older structures. The apse houses the grave of St Prohor Pčinjski and the monastery charnel-house.
    Two residential buildings (konak) dominate the imposing monastery complex, of which the so-called Vranjanski Konak, massive in size, is one of the most beautiful buildings of this type in Serbia. It was built between 1854 and 1862, a donation by Hadži-Mihailo Pogačarević, a merchant from Vranje.
     The first plenary session of ASNOM (The Anti-Fascist Assembly of the National Liberation of Macedonia) was convened on August 2, 1944 in Prohor Pčinjski.
    The monastery was declared a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


     Žiča is an early 13th century Serb Orthodox Monastery near Kraljevo, Serbia. The monastery, together with the Church of the Holy Dormition, was built by the first King of Serbia, Stefan the First-Crowned and the first Head of the Serbian church, Saint Sava.
     Žiča was the seat of the Archbishop (1219–1253), and by tradition the coronational church of the Serbian kings, although a king could be crowned in any Serbian church, he was never considered a true king until he was anointed in Žiča.
     Žiča was declared as Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and it is protected by Serbia. In 2008, Žiča celebrated 800 years of existence.
     The Serbs were intially under the jurisdiction of the Archbischopic of Ohrid, under the tutelage of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinopole.

      Rastko Nemanjić, the son of Stefan Nemanja, ruled as Grand Prince of Hum 1190-1192, previously held by Grand Prince Miroslav. In the autumn of 1192 (or shortly thereafter) Rastko joins a Russian monks and travels to Mount Atos where he takes monastic vows and spends several years, in 1195 his father joined him, and together they founded the Hilandar, as the base of Serbian religion. His father dies in Hilandar on February 13, 1199, he is canonised, as Saint Simeon. Rastko built a church and cell at Karyes, where he stayed for some years, becoming a Hieromonk, then an Archimandrite in 1201. He writes the Karyes Typicon during his stay there.
     He returns to Serbia in 1207, taking the remains of his father with him, which he relocates to the Studenica monastery, after reconcileing Stefan II with Vukan, who had earlier been in a successation feud (civil war). Stefan II asks him to remain in Serbia with his clerics, which he does, starting a widespread pastoral and educational duty to the people of Serbia. He founds several churches and monasteries, among them the Žiča monastery.

Archimandrite Rastko (future Saint Sava) brings the regal crown from Rome, crowning his older brother Stefan Prvovenčani "King of All Serbia" in the Žiča monastery in 1217. In 1219, the Serbian Church gains autocephaly, by Emperor Theodore I Laskaris and Patriarch Manuel I of Constantinopole, Sava becomes the first Archbishop. The monastery acts as the seat of the Archbishop of all Serbian lands.
In 1221, a synod was held in the monastery, condemning Bogomilism.

When Serbia was invaded by Hungary, Saint Sava sent Arsenije I Sremac to find a safer place in the south to establish a new episcopal See. In 1253 the see was transferred to the Archbishopric of Peć (future Patriarchate) by Arsenije. The Serbian primates had since moved between the two.
In 1289-1290, the chief treasures of the ruined monastery, including the remains of Sain Jevstatije I, were transferred to Peć.
Sometime between 1276-1292 the Cumans burned the monastery, and King Stefan Milutin renovated it in 1292-1309, during the office of Jevstatije II.
Patriarch Nikon joined Despot Đurađ Branković when the capital was moved to Smederevo, following Turkish-Hungarian wars in the territory of Serbia in the 1430s.
After the First Serbian Uprising, the Ottoman destroyed the monastery.