”The emperor built the monastery of the Holy Archangels,
On the water of Bistrica a thousand catches long;
Strong white albastra stairs,
Foundations of silver, walls of gold. ”
This is how Jovan Dučić wrote in the poem “Monastery” as part of his “Imperial Sonnets” about the construction of the monastery of the Holy Archangels near Prizren, the endowment of Emperor Dušan.
In the verses of this beautiful song, we can see how strong the Serbian medieval state was and how much the Serbian rulers from the holy lineage of Nemanjić helped the church, knowing that it is one of the strongest pillars of Serbian identity.
Indeed, monasteries, wherever they were, were gathering places for the Serbian people and places where revolts were raised against the occupiers, where Serbian literature was born and nurtured, and where every Serb found peace, protection and salvation.
And as such, unfortunately, they have always been the target of all conquerors from the time of the Turkish conquests until the last terrorist attacks by Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija. They suffered a lot, they were burned and demolished to the ground. They made sacrifices and great sufferings, but they protected the Serbian people and were the strongest support for the preservation of the Serbian national identity.
Today, in addition to their spiritual role, they are testimonies of one of the most glorious periods in the long history of Serbian statehood. They remind us where our borders used to be, where Serbian blood for freedom was shed.
They also remind us that our glorious rulers, no matter how strong, were always humble before God, building churches to the glory of God and praying before every battle and decision important for the Serbian people.
Serbian monasteries, endowments of the holy lineage of Nemanjić to the Serbian people should be guides on the path of renewal, salvation and resurrection of the Serbian state in holy Kosovo and Metohija.
With faith in God. Next year in Imperial Prizren!
The Banjska Monastery is located below the Rogozna Mountain not far from Zvečan in Kosovo and Metohija. It was built in the period from 1312 to 1316, and dedicated to the Holy Archdeacon Stefan. It is the endowment of King Milutin, who built Banjska with the intention of being buried in it.
Bešenovo Monastery is located on Fruška Gora. It was founded by King Dragutin at the end of the 13th century. The main monastery church is dedicated to the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel. In 1944, at the insistence of the Croatian Ustashas, the Germans razed the monastery to the ground. Renovation began in 2013.
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. During its long history, it has survived many destructions, of which it is perhaps the most difficult after the savagery of Albanian extremists and terrorists in 2004. Since 2006, the Our Lady of Ljeviš has been placed on the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage, as part of the Serbian medieval monuments in Kosovo and Metohija.
Visoki Decani Monastery is located next to the place Decani in Kosovo and Metohija, next to the river Pecka Bistrica. It is the endowment of Stefan Uroš III of Dečani. Construction began in 1327, and construction was completed by Tsar Dusan in 1355. It is one of the most monumental and beautiful Serbian monasteries. Since 2004, it is on the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage.
The Gracanica Monastery is located near Pristina on the banks of the Gracanica River. It is the endowment of King Milutin. It was built from 1310 to 1318, and was frescoed until 1321. The monastery is a masterpiece of Serbian medieval architecture. It is one of the best preserved church monuments from that time. Since 2006, it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
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. It was built by Stefan Nemanja between 1167 and 1170. During the reign of King Dragutin, extensive works were carried out in the monastery, so King Dragutin is considered the second founder of the monastery.
Ljubostinja Monastery is located five kilometers north of Trstenik. It is the endowment of Princess Milica, the wife of Prince Lazar. It was built at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century. Princess Milica became a monk in this monastery, taking the name Evgenija. Her tomb is still in the monastery today. The main monastery church is dedicated to the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God.
The Mileseva Monastery is located six kilometers from Prijepolje on the Milesevci River. It was built in 1218 and 1219, and painted from 1222 to 1228. It was built by King Vladislav, the son of King Stefan the First-Crowned, and the grandson of Stefan Nemanja. King Vladislav built Mileseva as his grave church in which he was buried. The monastery was built in the Raska style, and is dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord. He is best known to the world for the fresco of the White Angel. It is especially important to Serbs because of the frescoes of Serbian rulers, who, in addition to the beauty of painting, also give us important documentary data.
The Patriarchate of Peć is located near Peć, near the river Pećka Bistrica at the entrance to the Rugova gorge. It is one of the most important monuments of Serbian history. It has been the seat of Serbian archbishops and patriarchs for centuries. From the 13th to the 17th century, Serbian archbishops and patriarchs were buried in the churches of the Pec Patriarchate.
The Monastery of the Holy Mother of God is located at the mouth of the river Kosanica in Toplica, at the very entrance to Kursumlija and is one of the first endowments of Stefan Nemanja. According to the writings of Stefan the First-Crowned, it was made between 1159 and 1168. Today it is in ruins, and as a cultural monument of exceptional importance, it is under state protection.
The Ravanica Monastery is located at the foot of the Kučajske Mountains near Ćuprija. It was built by Saint Prince Lazar in the 14th century. As an important place, it has always gathered the Serbian people and because of that, during its turbulent history, it has been demolished and rebuilt several times. It is a testimony to the difficult period of the Serbian state after the Battle of Kosovo and our efforts to preserve our faith and holy places. 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. Today, the relics of the holy prince Lazar rest in it.
The monastery of St. Nicholas is located not far from Kursumlija, on a high plateau above the mouth of the river Banjska in Toplica. It was built between 1152 and 1166 and together with the monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God in Kursumlija, it represents the first endowment of Stefan Nemanja.
The Sopoćani Monastery is located near Novi Pazar, not far from the source of the Raška River. It is an endowment of Stefan Uroš I, and it was built in the middle of the 13th century. Ana Dandolo, the mother of King Uroš, Stefan Prvovenčani, Grand Duke Đorđe and King Uroš I were buried in the monastery. The frescoes of the Sopoćani monastery are a true masterpiece and brought him world fame. In 1979, the monastery was included in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage.
Studenica Monastery is one of the most beautiful and richest Serbian monasteries. It is 57 kilometers away from Kraljevo, and it was founded by Stefan Nemanja. The monastery was built from 1183 to 1196. Today, the relics of Saint Simeon (Stefan Nemanja) and Saint Simon (Stephen the First-Crowned) rest in it. Since 1986, the Studenica Monastery has been under the protection of UNESCO. In addition to numerous valuable portraits, church-artistic and liturgical objects, the monastery treasury also contains a gold ring of King Stefan the First-Crowned from the 11th-12th centuries.
Tvrdos Monastery is located 4 kilometers west of Trebinje. It is the oldest monastery in Republika Srpska. It is an endowment of King Milutin from the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century. In the Tvrdoš monastery, St. Vasilije Ostroški received a monastic vow and a priestly rank, after which he served in the monastery as the parish priest of Popovo Polje.
The Tronoša Monastery is located 20 kilometers from Loznica towards Krupanj. The document called “Tronoški letopis” from 1791 states that the founder of the monastery is Queen Katarina, the wife of King Dragutin. The monastery was built between 1276 and 182. He is especially known for the fact that Vuk Stefanović Karadžić started his schooling there.
Hilandar Monastery is located on the Holy Mountain, on the Athos Peninsula in Greece. It was founded by Saints Sava and Stefan Nemanja at the end of 1198 on the site of the former Helandarion monastery. It is one of the five most important monasteries on the Holy Mountain and is one of the largest Serbian shrines. It was helped and restored by all Serbian rulers.