The Đurđevi Stupovi Monastery is located near Novi Pazar above the valleys of the Raška and Deževa rivers. It is one of the oldest and most important Serbian monasteries.
The temple is first mentioned by Stefan Prvovenčani, who says that Stefan Nemanja built a church dedicated to St. George in Ras as a sign of gratitude that he rescued him from the dungeon where his brothers imprisoned him. The beginning of the construction of the church was probably in 1167, and it was completed in 1170. The monastery was built in a difficult and significant historical period in which Serbia fought for liberation from Byzantine rule.
Đurđevi Stupovi are among the most important holy places in Serbian history. Its construction represents a turning point in the ruling ideology of Nemanjić. Building it on an excellent position, Stefan Nemanja bases his Christian thought on Serbian statehood on the old spiritual foundations.
Thanks to its position, the monastery became a very important gathering center for the Serbian people. At that time, the episcopal seat in the Church of the Holy Apostles, which is today known as Peter’s Church, was located in the old Ras. There was also the town of Ras, and Deževi was the court of King Dragutin, and perhaps the first Nemanjićs.
King Dragutin, the last of the lineage of Nemanjić whose capital was Ras, was the second founder of the monastery. In his time, the entrance tower was turned into a chapel, and a new entrance was opened on the southeast side. Later, the mortal king Dragutin was buried in the monastery, but his tomb was looted in the 18th century, when the monastery was also destroyed.
In 1589, the church was covered with lead. With the withdrawal of the Austrian army after the great Austro-Turkish war in 1689, the monks left the monastery. The Turks destroyed the monastery, and took the material to build a fortress in Novi Pazar. This was prevented by the Patriarch of Peć, Mojsije, in 1722.
The church was trained for worship in 1925, and the monastery experienced new destruction in 1941.
The temple is a single-nave building with three basic units. The nave and narthex have a rectangular appearance, and the altar consists of three parts with three apses. The narthex is vaulted with a semi-barrel vault. In the corners of the nave are pilasters which are connected in the upper parts by arches. Above the arches is a dome with pendants with a high tambour, which has an elliptical base on the inside and an octagonal one on the outside. Along the nave, on the sides, are elongated vestibules. There are three arched openings between the nave and the altar space, which correspond to the three-part division of the altar space.
Only parts of the rich frescoes of Đurđevi Stupovi remain. The church was painted between 1170 and 1175. The frescoes of the nave originate from that period, while the frescoes in the narthex were created during the reign of King Dragutin. Parts from that time have been preserved today: the Evangelist Luke in the northwestern pandatif, then the damaged representation of the prophet Daniel in the dome, the bust of Saints Andronicus and Paul on the arch that separates the narthex from the nave. Fragments from compositions related to the life of St. George are also preserved in the narthex. On the east and northeast walls, there are also damaged representations of Stefan Nemanja and King Dragutin, the founder of the temple.
Đurđevi Stupovi are among the most famous holy places in Serbian history. Its construction represents a turning point in the ruling ideology of Nemanjić. Building it on an excellent position, Stefan Nemanja bases his Christian thought on Serbian statehood on the old spiritual foundations.
After the unfortunate fall from his horse, King Dragutin abdicated the throne in favor of his brother King Stefan Milutin. At the famous council in Dezava (1282), under the auspices of the monastery of St. George, the handover of power took place in the presence of the highest representatives of the church and the authorities. This important historical moment, at the request of King Dragutin himself, was immortalized in the chapel of the monastery of St. George as part of a unique cycle of state parliaments of Serbia. The idea of the state and the highest authority in the country, of the throne and the faith of the ancestors, with the artistic hand of the painter, once again found its expression through the presentation of four parliaments – the parliament of Stefan Nemanja, the parliament where King Stefan Uroš I was enthroned, power and finally, the parliament in Deževo. The idea of a hereditary monarchy and dynasty is also woven into the founder’s composition of the first Nemanjićs (the so-called horizontal tree of the dynasty), led by Stefan Nemanj, St. Simeon. King Dragutin is also shown in the chapel with a model of the church in his hand. According to the explicit wish of this ruler, who before his death received the monastic rank and the name Theoctist, he was transferred from the “land of Srem”, where he lived, to the monastery of St. George and buried there (1316). The memory of this ruler and his contribution to the flourishing of the monastery remained in the memory of later generations. He was called not only the second founder, but sometimes also the founder of the monastery.
In the last years of the 20th century, a great action of renewing Đurđevi Stupovi was initiated. The action was led by the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, and it was supported by many state, cultural and scientific institutions, public figures and the entire Serbian people.
Orthodox Serbia, Đurđevi Stupovi, Church of St. George, pravoslavna-srbija.com