Monasteries – witnesses of Serbian history and orthodox tradition
During serbian history, huge number of monasteries are built on territory of Serbia, even beyond borders. The most famous monasteries are from valley of river Ibar („Valley of the kings”), form Ovčar-Kablar gorge („Serbian Holly Mounth“) and Fruška Gora Mountain (Vojvodina).
The word „Manastir“ originates from greek word „Monastirion“, which means self-fortification. It represent home for those who vow own life to God and live ascetic and solitary way of life.
Monasteries are divided on two groups: female and male. Huge influence in endowment of monasteries belongs to Dynasty of Nemanjići (the most important dynasty of Serbia in the Middle Ages 1168-1371). The progenitor of the dynasty was Stefan Nemanja (1168-1196), Grand Prince.
There are 212 monasteries on territory of Serbia. One group of them is located in the beautiful Ovčar- Kablar gorge, around Zapadna Morava river, not far from Guča (30km), known as „Serbian Holly Mounth“. Here are some of them:
NIKOLJE – Pearl of the gorge.
Nikolje is dedicated to Saint Nicholas. It`s the oldest monastery, that preserved the original form and appearance from medieval period. Nikolje was well-built in the end of 14th century. There are records that in monastery lived about 300 monks, who helped for hiding Serbian army during Second Serbian Uprising in 1815, including rebellious prince Miloš Obrenović. Monastery has significant treasure such as “Nikoljsko” i “Karansko jevanđelje”
TROJICE (St. Trinity) – the most beautiful monastery.
It was raised in the 16th century, in village Dučalovići, in the north part of Dragačevo. In this church icons of „Savior“ and „Madonna“ and holly cross made of gold are kept as treasure of big importance. Flora and fauna around the monastery is rich and wonderful.
USPENJE (Dormition of Madonna) – monastery surrounded by the river.
Uspenje is settled in the amazing location, in the middle of gorge, visible from all sides. For long time this monastery was abandoned and damaged, until 1939. when famous and respected bishop Nikolaj Velimirović started renovation.
BLAGOVEŠTENJE (Annunciation) – the place where Patriarch Serbian Sir Pavle decided to become the monk.
The first church is raised in 13th century, afterwards, in 17th is renovated. It`s in vicinity of Ovčar Banja (town- spa in the middle of the gorge). It hosts iconostasis (unique) and famous 4-gospel.
The other monasteries, with significant importance
HILANDAR – The last „alive“ medieval Serbian town.
Monastery was built 1198. on Mount Athos in Greece, by Greek monks, and afterwards renovated by Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja and his son St. Sava (the first Serbian archbishop 1175-1236). Complex represents one of the most respected point of the Serbian orthodox spirituality. It is protected by UNESCO. Monastery has strict rule that ingress is forbidden for women. There is legend that only woman who entered inside of monastery was empress Jelena, wife of Emperor Dušan (the first Serbian emperor, 1346-1355) but with promise that he would not plent a foot on the ground. Unfortunately, Hilandar was gravely distroyed during the fire in 2004.
ĐURĐEVI STUPOVI (Tracts of st. George) – the first foundation, made by Dynasty Nemanjići.
It was built in 1171. close to Novi Pazar (Western Serbia). The church has simply basic and two simetric towers. There was legend that buiding-up of the monastery represents fulfillment of vow. Alleged, Nemanja was put by his brothers in cave (nearby position of monastery), he prayed to St. George with promise that he will raise church as appreciation. By virtue of supporters and prayer he was saved, afterwards he fulfilled vow. Monastery is under protection of UNESCO.
STUDENICA- Treasure in the middle of „hunting beasts”.
Monastery was raised in 12th century by Stefan Nemanja and Stefan Prvovenčani (the first king of Serbian Medieval Kingdom, 1196-1228), as building in Romanesque and Byzantine style (Raška school). Complex includs: Virgin`s church, Church of St. Nicholas, King`s church and church of saints Anna and Joachim. Studenica was spiritual and administrative center.
SOPOĆANI – royal fort at the wellspring.
Sopoćani was build in 13th century in vicinity of wellspring of river Raška, close to medieval fortress Ras (the first serbian capital), by king Stefan Uroš I (1243-1276). It`s dedicated to St. Trinity. This is place where west and byzantine world are connected in architectural way. The monastery is under the protection of UNESCO.
ŽIČA – Sanctity on halfway between Rome and Constantinople.
King Stefan Prvovenčani raised this monastery, close to town Kraljevo. It`s dedicated to Ascension of the God. Žiča was center of serbian autocephalous church. This is female monastery.
PEĆKA PATRIJARŠIJA – The first Serbian patriarchate.
In 1346. Serbian church was raised on the level of Patriarchate, by emperor Dušan. Monasterian complex includes 4 churches. Pećka patrijaršija also represents the biggest serbian mausoleum. Today this monastery is under protection of KFOR.
Monasteries have had huge importance for serbian history as administrative, spiritualy and educational centers. In yards of monasteries were buried rulers and dignitaries.
We should be proud on spiritual pearl, „Serbian Holly Mounth“ which is close to Guča.
These sanctities represents treasure of european and mondial importance.