Monasteries of Fruška Gora, Lazarica, Ljubostinja,
Manasija, Mileševa, Ravanica, Žiča i Studenica


4. Manasija

Manasija (Resava) Monastery is situated on the bank of the small river Resava, near Despotovac and it represents one of the latest monuments of Serbian medieval culture. In the Middle Ages, this monastery was named Resava and the name Manasija is of a more recent date. The church was erected by Despot Stefan Lazarevic, son of Prince Lazar Hrebeljanovic. The monumental church construction and the great dining room were built in the period between 1406 and 1418. Great walls with eleven towers surrounded by trench represent the monastery defence system of the time. The most dominant and the most massive – the dungeon tower is also known as Tower of Despot . The great entrance to the fortress was constructed on its west side.

The Church of St. Trinity , with developed trefoil ground plan, is one of the most representative edifices of Moravska School . The facade decorations made of stone ashlars have retained the character of Raška School . The floor designed in mosaics represents a special rarity in Serbian medieval architecture.

The paintings inside the naos, finished in 1418, are largely damaged and preserved only in fragments within the narthex. The frescoes of Manasija, along with those in Kalenić, are the most beautiful among monuments of Moravska School and they rank among the best works of art of the old Serbian painting in general. Besides the monumentally painted warriors in the choirs, prophets painted in the dome are especially beauteous, as is the idealized portrait of the benefactor, Despot Stefan Lazarević depicted as offering the model of the church to St. Trinity.

In Manasija, besides the monastery church and the fortress, there are partly preserved remains of the old dinning room and the library. The transcription workshop used to be active in the library where numerous books were made for religious purposes. “Resava writing” was much appreciated and it was used by calligraphers as a model for a long time afterwards.

5. Mileševa

It is situated in the Valley of Mileševa River, 5km to the east from Prijepolje. In the third decade of the 13 th century, King Vladislav Nemanjic, grandson of Nemanja and son of Stefan Prvovenčani, erected Mileševa Monastery and the church dedicated to the Ascension of Jesus.

Mileševa is one of the most important religious and artistic centers of Serbian people. It gained great popularity among the people after 1236 when the relics of St. Sava were moved there from Trnovo. In 1595, Turk brought the relics to Belgrade and burned them on Vračar. In 1377, Tvrtko Kotromanić was crowned King of Bosnia and Serbia , in Mileševa and in 1446, Stefan Vukčić Kosača received a title of Herceg (Duke) of St. Sava.

The Turks burned down the monastery several times, but despite that Mileseva still managed to developed rich cultural activities. In the 16 th century printing press was used in Mileševa for printing liturgical books. In 1688 the monastery was severely damaged and in 1782 monastery cells and all icons were burned. Mileševa had undergone two great restorations, the first in the 16 th century, at the time of patriarch Makarije, and the second in 1863 when church obtained its today's form. The Church of Ascension of Jesus is an edifice of Raska School with a single nave base. It has a three-part altar area, a dome erected above the crossing of nave and a choral transept and narthex.

External narthex with side chapels dedicated to St. George and St. Demetrius were erected around 1236. The naos and narthex were decorated with frescoes of exceptional beauty before 1228. Portraits of King Vladislav, Simeon Nemanja, St. Sava, Stefan Prvovenčani and King Radoslav and a White Angel on the tomb of Jesus represent masterpieces of Serbian and European art of the 13 th century. Portraits of Nemanjić family, typical Serbian rulers composition, were painted for the first time in Mileševa, and became an inevitable part of later painting compositions in Serbian churches. The fresco paintings in external narthex were created around 1236. Damaged in Turkish demolitions, Mileseva paintings were renewed in 16 th and 17 th century. Conservation of painting was executed in the fifties of 20 th century, and the detailed archeological researches, conservation and presentation of architecture were finished in 1996.

6. Ravanica

Ravanica Monastery, with a church of Ascension of Jesus and edifices surrounded with strong defense fortification with seven towers is situated at the bottom of Kucajske Mountains , in the village Senje near Ćuprija. It is an endowment of Prince Lazar. It was built between 1375 and 1377 and decorated by fresco paintings in the years before Battle of Kosovo. The modified composition of its benefactor was painted later, after Lazar's death.

Based on its architectural and artistic characteristics Ravanica church developed a new artistic style of Moravska School . Church represents an original architectural solution developed by adding Mount Athos tradition of trefoil ground plan to the model of inscribed cross with five domes that was often used at the time of King Milutin. The trefoil ground plan became a model for later development of spatial construction of temples. The church was built by combining horizontal layers of stone and bricks and decorated with ceramic-plastic ornaments and rich decorative relief plastic.

The preserved frescoes in altar and main internal space of the church, show the traces of some artistic novelties with respect to the pattern of themes and cycles (the Great Feasts, Passion of Christ, miracles and parabolas) that would later on become the rule in painting churches of Moravska School . Images of Jesus, Virgin Mary, celestial beings and prophets can be seen in domes; representations of Passion of Christ and incarnation can be found in the altar, while the cycle of Great Feasts, miracles and parabolas and St. Warriors and St. Monks are placed in the naos.

As an important center of religious, cultural, literal and artistic life, Ravanica inspired the construction of several churches and monasteries, such as the nearby Sisojevac monastery and the churches in the district of Petruška.

7. Žiča

Žiča Monastery is situated in the village Kruševica, on the road between Kraljevo and Mataruška Banja. It is the endowment of King Stefan Prvovenčani. The construction of the main monastery church dedicated to Ascension of Jesus started about 1206 and it was finished before 1217, when its benefactor received the royal crown from Rome .

Žiča has a special place in the history of Serbian people and its church. St. Sava, the first archbishop of independent Serbian Church, which obtained it's independency in 1219, proclaimed this church as its seat, crowned his brother as a king and ordained bishops of newly established eparchies. Stefan's successors, his sons Radoslav and Vladislav were crowned there as well, and the first successor of St. Sava, archbishop Arsenije, was ordained here. When archiepiscopal throne was moved from Žiča to Peć Patriarchy in the mid 13 th century, Žiča did not lose its reputation, but instead it kept growing, especially during the period before Serbia lost its independency, when high Serbian Orthodox Clerics remained there.

By the end of 13 th century, monastery was damaged and King Milutin renewed it by the beginning of the following century. During the period under Turks, the monastery was destroyed and renewed several times. Its today's form is a result of a great restoration works between 1925 and 1935 and by the end of 80's in the 20 th century. Žiča's architecture belongs to Raška School , and facades are red, following the model of Mount Athos architecture.

The first church was a single nave edifice with a wide half-rounded altar apse on the east side, narthex on the west and rectangular choral areas on the south and north side. Its original look was changed with separate rooms for diaconicon and prothesis, removed wall between naos and narthex and, next to the old narthex, additionally constructed side chapels as separate edifices with their own domes half-rounded altar apses. Being the seat of archiepiscopacy, Žiča greatly influenced later monuments of Raška School , opening the way for the influence of Mount Athos .

The severely damaged fresco paintings show the traces of three different chronological-stylistic ensembles. The first ones are the frescoes made immediately after obtaining independency, created by painters from Constantinople . Another ensemble consist of poorly preserved frescoes in the tower chapel, made by beginning of forth decade of 13 th century. The most important part of fresco paintings are those created between 1309 and 1216 which may be found in the main part of church, containing the following ensembles: The Great Feasts, Scenes from the Life of Jesus, standing figures of Saints and busts of Saints. Authors of these frescoes are masters from the famous workshop of King Milutin, the authors of frescoes in Old Nagoricino, Bogorodica Ljeviska in Prizren and King's Church in Studenica.

On the east of the main monastery temple, there is the church dedicated to St. Theodor Tyro and St. Theodore Stratelates, from the 14 th century. It is the only preserved structure from the medieval monastery complex. It has a simple architecture and noble proportions.

8. Studenica

Manastir Studenica je jedan od najvećih i najbogatijih manastira Srpske pravoslavne crkve.Utvrđeni zidovi manstira okružuju dve crkve: Bogorodičnu crkvu i Kraljevu crkvu (crkvu svetih Joakima i Ane), obe izgrađene od mermera. Kompleks manstira uključuje i Crkvu Nikoljaču, malu jednobrodsku crkvu, koja je inutra oslikana freskama iz 12. ili početka 13. veka. Između Crkve Nikoljače i Kraljeve crkve se nalaze temlji crkve posvećene Svetom Jovanu Krstitelju.

Manastir je poznat po svojoj kolekciji fresaka iz 13. i 14. veka. UNESKO je 1986. uvrstio Studenicu u listu Svetske baštine. Manastir Studenica je posvećen Uspenju presvete Bogorodice. Prva faza radova je završena u proleće 1196, kada je Stefan Nemanja prepustio presto svom sinu Stefanu Prvovenčanom i povukao se u svoju zadužbinu. Nemanjin treći sin Sava Nemanjić je preneo mošti Svetog Simeona u Studenicu gde su i dan danas. Pod Savinim starateljstvom, Studenica je postala politički, kulturni i duhovni centar srednjovekovne Srbije. Uz ostala svoja dela, Sava je napisao Studenički tipik, u kom je zadao ustrojenje monaškog života u manastiru Studenica.

U Žitiju SV. Simeona Nemanje, opisao je život svog oca Nemanje (Sv. Simeona) ostaviviši izvore o duhovnom i monaškom životu u njegovom vremenu. Studenica je uživala pažnju i drugih članova dinastije Nemanjića. Kralj Radoslav je 1245. dodao crkvi pripratu, a kralj Milutin je sagradio malu crkvu posvećenu svetim Joakimu i Ani. Prva značajna restauracija je izvršena 1569, kada su freske Bogorodičine crkve ponovo naslikane. Početkom 17. veka, požar i zemljotres su oštetili manasti, a istorijski dokumenti i značajni delovi umetničke baštine su uništeni i izgubljeni zauvek.

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