With it’s location at the intersection of East and West, Serbia has always been a meeting place for peoples who left behind authentic traces of spiritual culture. However, what Serbia boasts about are it’s monasteries, from Studenica and Sopocani to the Pecka Patriarchate, from the Fruska Gora monasteries to Manasija, Ravanica and Zica. Built during the Middle Ages, these monasteries still testify to the rise and fall of the Serbian Empire and then the state. They were built by rulers in honor of the saints, but also as their eternal endings.
Serbian monasteries feature rich and representative murals and wall paintings. The first compositions dominated the monumentality and simplicity of the lines. The murals depicted the lives of the saints and donors of these endowments. One of the most famous murals is the Beli Andjeo (White Angel), part of a larger composition from the Church of the Ascension in the Mileshev monastery, wich UNESCO has put on the World Heritage List. This fresco was sent to space as a representative of the culture of the inhabitants of planet Earth.
The rulers of the medieval Serbian Nemanjic dynasty erected some of the most beautiful monastery complexes, among which the most important is Chilandar. Stefan Nemanja with his sons, the monk Sava and Stefan the Prvovencani, erected the Hilandar monastery in the 12th century in 1198. Chilandar is one of the largest Serbian Orthodox shrines, located in the northern part of Mount Athos, a monastic republic with 20 large monasteries, located on the third leg of the Chalkidiki Peninsula in northern Greece. The Hilandar monastery is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The architecture of Serbian medieval monasteries shows particular diversity. During the 13th and partly in the 14th century representative churches were built, in whose proportions, decorative facade and sculpture feel Romanesque influence, and they (Studenica, Banja, Decani, Gradac, Arilje, Mileševa, Sopocani…) were classified in Raška School of Civil Engineering. The first half of the 14th century was marked by remarkable works of architecture and construction erected during the reign of King Milutin (Gracanica).
After 1371, a special architectural style of the Moravian Civil Engineering School began, with polychrome facades and decorative plastics, which developed in the Morava valley (Ravanica, Lazarica, Ljubostinja, Kalenic…).
Medieval monasteries and churches were no’t only landscapes of Serbia, but landscapes of Serbian souls, also a kind of painting galleries. Frescoes and icons from Serbian churches are a significant treasure in Serbia’s cultural and historical heritage.
Due to architectural features, sculptural decorations, murals, icons, manuscript books, numerous works of applied art, Serbian monasteries attract the attention of both tourists and experts in medieval art.
Monasteries on the Mount Athos