MONASTERIES OF SERBIA

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

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1. Monasteries of Fruška Gora

Monasteries of Fruška Gora are situated on slopes of Fruška Gora in the district of Srem. The monasteries were built in late Middle Ages, when the centre of Serbian culture moved to what was then the southern Hungary , due to Turkish attacks. The turbulent history, architectural and artistic beauty, and especially the role of the religious centre of the Serbian people, contributed to the great importance of monasteries of Fruška Gora in the cultural and historical heritage of Serbia .

By 1941, there were 17 monasteries on Fruška Gora: Krušedol, Staro (Old) Hopovo, Grgeteg, Velika (Great) Remeta, Mala (Small) Remeta, Sremska Ravanica (of Srem), Jazak, Šišatovac, Petkovic, Bešenevo, Divša, Kuveždin, Rakovac, Beočin, Privina glava (Head) and Fenek. Most monastery churches were built under the influence Moravska and Raška School , and in time, they underwent radical changes. When restored, churches were given high multi story bell towers with baroque shapes and sculptural decoration and in the interior – large and complex baroque iconostasis which were painted by the best Serbian artists of that time. During the Second World War lots of monasteries were destroyed, in some of them fresco paintings and iconostasis were damaged or completely ruined, and most of treasuries were robbed.

Novo (New) Hopovo

As early as in 1555, the Relics of Saint Warrior Theodore of Amasea (often named Theodore Tyro) were moved to the older church of Novo Hopovo which held it at a special place among the monasteries of Fruska Gora. The new church of Saint Nicolas was built in 1576, the benefactors of which were Lacko and Marko Jovšić from Gornji Kovin . This Church has a triconchal base with a cupola and spacious narthex. Special beauty is gained by unusual and original twelve side dome, bordered by columns. Specific solution for the dome, flanked with slim pillars, testifies about inventiveness of masters of the new age. Facades are decorated in the spirit of Moravska School .

The fresco paintings in the church do not belong to the same period. The Church itself was painted by Greek masters in 1608, and narthex in 1654. The older painting has exceptional value and testifies that post-Byzantine painting was still present, and here it was under the influence of the fresco paintings of the Mount Athos and Italian-Crete school. Narthex is unique with free standing figures in two zones and rarely depicted cycles of Passion of the Apostles. The painted decoration of the iconostas was created 1776 by Teodor Kracun. During the Second World War it almost totally ruined, along with the greater part of the residences, the bell tower and part of the church.

Staro (Old) Hopovo

This monastery property of a Great Monastery Hopovo was mentioned for the first time in 1541 although it was established by the end of 15 th or the beginning of the 16 th century. It is situated on the east slope of Fruška Gora, 2 km north-east from Novo Hopovo. It was built in 1752 at the place of the first Hopovo church made of wood, which had been demolished by the earthquake.

Church, dedicated to St. Panteleon, is a single nave, rectangular construction with the outside pentagonal and inside rounded, apse and with a ten stories tall dome. Iconostas from the end of the 18 th century was damaged in the Second World War.

Grgeteg

The Grgeteg Monastery with a church dedicated to St. Nicolas is situated on the south slope of Fruška Gora. The legend says that it was built by despot Vuk Brankovic (Zmaj Ognjeni Vuk – Fiery Dragon Wolf) for his blind father, Grgur the monk from Hilandar after whom it was named.

The first historical records about the monastery can be found in Turkish documents from the mid 16 th century. The Monastery used to be run-down before Great Serbian Migration and was renovated in the beginning of 18 th century, thanks to metropolitan bishop Isaija Đaković. The Baroque features were added to the church between 1766 and 1771, and extensive restoration was made by the end of 19 th century under the leadership of Herman Bole, and architect from Zagreb . The old iconostas division was replaced by a new one, made in marble, with icons painted by Uroš Predić.

The Monastery church is a single nave construction with a round altar apse and rectangular choirs. The Dome from the 18 th century was removed in the latest reconstruction when it was insisted on overview and symmetry of the interior and facades of temple. The dormitories which surround church from four sides and iconostas of the chapel in the bell-tower, work of Pjer Križanić, were perished during the Second World War.

Krušedol

Jedan od najznačajnijih srpskih manastira osnovali su despot Đorđe Branković (potonji monah Maksim) i njegova majka Angelina (žena slepog Stefana Brankovića), a u njemu počivaju posmrtni ostaci mnogih glasovitih Srba Smatra se da je njegova izgradnja započela oko 1509. godine. Manastir je tek delimično završen oko 1513. godine, a uz veliku pomoć ruskog velikog kneza Vasilija Jovanovića i vlaškoga vojvode Jovana Wagoja Basarabe. Prilikom povlačenja Turaka iz Srema 1716, manastirski konaci su oštećeni, a crkva spaljena. Obnavljanje manastira je počelo 1721. i završeno krajem šeste decenije 18. veka. U crkvi postoje dva sloja zidnog slikarstva. Stariji sloj su freske, slikane između 1543. i 1546, a drugi sloj su uzane zidne slike koje su nastale između 1750. i 1756. Na zapadnoj fasadi crkve je freska sa predstavom strašnog suda, nastala krajem XVII veka.

Ikonostas je komponovan od ikona iz četiri perioda. Najstarije su ikone apostola sa Hristom, Bogorodicom i sv. Jovanom Krstiteljem, rad iz polovine XVI veka. U Drugom svetskom ratu, manastir nije razoren, ali je opljačkana bogata i vredna manastirska riznica. U crkvi su smešteni ostaci moštiju svetih Brankovića, tj. despota Đorđa Brankovića (monah Maksim) i njegovih roditelja Angeline i slepog Stefana Brankovića. U manastirskoj crkvi leže i posmrtni ostaci mnogobrojnih značajnih Srba. Između ostalih tu su sahranjeni patrijarh Arsenije III Čarnojević, mitropolit Isaija Đaković, patrijarh Arsenije IV Jovanović Šakabenta, grof Đorđe Branković, vojvoda Stevan Šupljikac, knjeginja Ljubica Obrenović i kralj Milan Obrenović.

2. Lazarica

Lazarica Monastery is situated in Kruševac, the former capital of Prince Lazar, with a church dedicated to St. Stephan which was constructed between 1377 and 1380. It belongs to the first phase of Moravska School and it was used as a model for many churches that were built later. In its base church has trefoil ground plan with dome above the central part, hold by pilasters which are leaning on the walls and built at the same time with narthex, above which is a tetragonal tower, a bit lower then the dome, and its real function was never really discovered. Its slimness is emphasized in the construction of the edifice and in decorative elements. The church was built based on the Byzantine model, altering horizontal layers of stone and bricks, so that from the outside, the church looks lively with its red-white pattern on the façade.

The windows, door ways and rosettes are decorated with artfully curved shallow plastic. Fresco paintings, most probably, did not originally exist and they were painted by Andra Andrejević between 1737 and 1740 and only he fragments of the frescos have been preserved. The iconostas made in 1844 has been preserved as a whole. Lately, large scale archaeological researches around the church were carried out. Foundations of numerous edifices of the old town were discovered and the best preserved are the remains of the high tower.

3. Ljubostinja

Ljubostinja Monastery and its church dedicated to Assumption of Mary is the endowment of Princess Milica, erected by the end of the 14 th century. It is one of the most important monuments of the Moravska School . Its architect was Rade Bor ović, well known in the epic poetry as Rade Neimar, he incised his name at the threshold of the inner portal. During the Turkish occupation Ljubostinja was one of the centers of the Levac region. It was restored several times – in the 17 th century its architecture, in 18 th century the fresco paintings and in 1851 the original construction was additionally changed.

The Monastery church is a typical monument of Moravska School . Its base forms the developed trefoil ground plan with a dome constructed above four free standing columns. The Church is made of sandstone; it has facades that are parsed vertically and horizontally. A plastic facade decoration has sculptural ornaments on the windows, portal frames, rosettes and other parts. The plastic decoration of Ljubostinja is well incorporated in the church architecture and has a symbolic meaning which still hasn't been fully clarified. The first fresco painting that was ordered by Princess Milica is preserved in the dome tambour, and the rest was painted later, most probably around 1415, which could be concluded based on the donators' and rulers' portraits. It is signed by the painter and Hieromonk Makarije. The iconostas of the monastery church was painted by Nikora Markovic in 1822.The older dormitory situated on the west part of the monastery is monumental edifice from the time of Prince Miloš Obrenović.

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