The Ravanica Monastery is located at the foot of the Kučajski Mountains near Ćuprija. It was built by Saint Prince Lazar between the seventies and eighties of the 14th century.

Looking at the founder’s composition with portraits of the holy prince Lazar, his sons Stefan and Vuk and princess Milica, it can be concluded that the completion of the works was before the end of Lazar’s reign from 1386 to 1388. But after more detailed conservation works, it was determined that the composition was painted after the original frescoes, after the battle of Kosovo.

In order to build the monastery and keep it at a decent height, Prince Lazar did not spare funds. He wanted to build a place for shelter both for life and after death.

After the Battle of Kosovo and the death of Lazar on Vidovdan in 1389, his relics were first laid in the Pristina Church of the Ascension, and in 1392 they were transferred to Ravanica. During the great migration, the monks transferred his relics to Nova Ravanica near Vrdnik in 1690, where they remained until 1942, after which they were transferred to the Cathedral in Belgrade. In May 1954, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church made a decision to return the relics of Saint Prince Lazar to Ravanica. This decision was implemented only in 1988, just before the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo.

After Lazar’s relics were transferred from Pristina to Ravanica, the monastery became a place of pilgrimage and a center where the cult of Prince Lazar and all Kosovo martyrs was created. It is assumed that even then Ravanica was a kind of monastic school, but only from the 17th century there are records from teachers.

After the Battle of Kosovo, the Serbian state experienced a difficult period, and thus Serbian shrines. The plain was plundered and devastated several times: in 1396, 1398, 1436, 1686 and 1687, as well as at the end of the 18th century during Kočina Krajina. There is a record of Archimandrite George that after the second fall of Smederevo and the final conquest of Serbia, the Turks ravaged the monastery and took away all the gold and silver they found. Fortunately, the church itself was not destroyed.

After the great war between the Ottoman Empire and the “Holy League” and the withdrawal of the Austrian army from Serbia, Ravanica experienced new destruction. Retreating to today’s Vojvodina, the monks took the prince’s relics and the most necessary inventory and transferred them to today’s Nova Ravanica monastery. After the Peace of Požarevac, when part of today’s central Serbia belonged to Austria, and thus the Ravanica monastery, the monks returned to the monastery for the first time. The destroyed monastery was restored by the hieromonk Stefan Daskal, whose portrait was made in the narthex north of the front door.

The monastery was mostly renovated during the time of Archimandrite Dionisije Popović-Đuna. At that time, Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević renovated the monastery in 1844, and in 1849 he built a monastery residence that still exists today.

During the time of Archimandrite Makarije Miletić, a lot was also done for the renovation and reconstruction of the monastery. On Vidovdan in 1939, he organized a magnificent celebration of the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo. Archimandrite Makarije was shot by the Germans because he helped the fight against the occupiers, and the monastery property was all destroyed.

Looking at the architecture and decorative reliefs, as well as the fresco-painting, the Ravanica monastery represents the beginning of the “Moravian school”, a new style direction in our painting. The painting was completed between 1385 and 1387. Not all the frescoes were completed in the same year, and there were several authors.

The greatest artistic value in the monastery is represented by the middle zones, where the frescoes were made by two very good masters. One of them was Constantine, who wrote his name on the fresco of a warrior. In Ravanica’s painting, the compositions Communion of the Apostles and Adoration of the Agency at the altar and the cycle of the Great Feasts in the upper zones of the monastery stand out. Other surfaces are covered with wall paintings from 1721.

Today, Ravanica is a nunnery, from October 1946. Destroyed many times during its turbulent past, it speaks of a difficult period for the Serbian state, when we lost our freedom, but we never lost faith and hope, nor did we forget our holy places.

Literature:

1. Serbian Orthodox Monastery Ravanica – Diocese Branicevska, ravanica.rs

2. Ravanica Monastery, Mirjana Ljubinković, Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, Belgrade, 2002.