Our Lady of Ljeviš is located in Prizren. It was thoroughly renovated by King Milutin between 1306 and 1309 and dedicated to the Assumption of the Mother of God.
In its place was previously a basilica with a wooden roof structure. By inserting two rows of columns into the space of the three-nave nave, Milutin’s architects created a building in the shape of an inscribed cross. They strengthened the vaults so that they could carry the complex roof structure on which five domes rise. They made an unusual apse of polygonal shape, which is richly decorated on niches and where a record was left of the founding activity of King Milutin and the name of the Bishop of Prizren Sava, at the time of which the works were performed.
The fresco of the Our Lady of Ljeviš is an example of the transition from the monumental style of the 13th century to the narrative style of the 14th century. The older style includes frescoes such as the Trial of Christ, the Communion of the Apostles, the Wedding in Cana, as well as a portrait of King Milutin and a large procession of Nemanjić.
The new style, which represents a multitude of small scenes with smaller figures, contains illustrations from the Gospels, scenes from the novel Varlam and Josif, and one cycle originated from the sermon of St. John.
Particular attention is drawn to the composition of the Last Judgment, made in a new style, which, due to the production of details, looked broken, and was lost sight of as a whole. What was especially interesting was that in the painting of sinners and their torments, certain ironic, comic elements could be noticed, as in the play of a miller who tore to measure, and was painted naked with a shovel in his buttocks.
Turbulent Serbian history has left great traces on the Our lady of Ljeviš. It was destroyed for the first time during the time of the Turks in 1445, when its frescoes were painted over and the church turned into a mosque. Only in 1912, after the liberation from the Turks, the Mother of God of Ljeviska became an Orthodox church again. During conservation work in 1952, old frescoes were discovered.
The church suffered even more terrible suffering from Albanian extremists and terrorists in 2004. She was shot and burned. At that time, the portraits of Nemanjić, the fresco of the tower and the nave were damaged. Since 2006, the Mother of God of Ljeviska has been placed on the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage, as part of the Serbian medieval monuments in Kosovo and Metohija.
1. Catalog of the exhibition “Kosovo and Metohija – endowments and courts”, group of authors, National Museum in Belgrade, Publikum, Belgrade 2013.
2. “Serbia between East and West” – Marlis Vujović, Jovan Janićijević, IP “Belgrade”, DD, Belgrade, 1994.
3. Bogorodica Ljeviska, Endowments of Nemanjic, zaduzbine-nemanjica.rs
4. The church that burned: the Mother of God of Ljeviska damaged all the horrors of the turbulent Serbian history, Opanak, opanak.rs