STUDENICA, the monastery surrounded by high protective walls, is the endowment of Grand Duke Stefan Nemanja, founder of the independent Serbian state and of a dynasty which ruled Serbia for 200 years. As the first important medieval Serbian monastery and major spiritual and artistic centre of the Serbian people, it was nicknamed “Mother of all Serbian monasteries”. It took more than a decade, from 1183 to 1196, to create this most beautiful work of Serbian medieval architecture – a unique meeting point of masters and artists who came from Constantinople and Southern Italy, making out of the Holy Virgin Church a real architectural masterpiece, blending Western marble facades, and Byzantine inner decorative art.

Manastir Studenica


ŽIČA has a great significance for the history of the Serbian people and thei churches. It was here that Saint Sava, the first archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox church, which gained its autocephalous status in 1219, established the seat of the Serbian church, crowned his brother Stefan as king and ordained the bishops of the newly-founded dioceses. The red color of the exterior walls is a symbol of the blood of the martyrs of the early Christian church St. Sava saw during one of his trips to the Holy Land.

Manastir Žiča


MILEŠEVA was built in 1243 as endowment of Serbian king Vladislav and is devoted to the Holy Ascension. It is located near the town of Prijepolje, 70 km from the torist area of Mt. Zlatibor. The most famous fresco is the “White Angel“, almost totally preserved and it is the greatest “window” of Serbian medieval art, since it was discovered when another layer was taken off the walls of the church. The fresco was first broadcasted via satellite in 1963, as Europe’s greeting for America.
A little later, the same fresco was sent into deep space as one of the top achievements of human civilization and eventual greeting to anyone who may see the tablet within the cosmic probe. Relics of one of extremely important figures of Serbian history and our first Archbishop – Saint Sava, were brought to Mileševa from Bulgarian town Trnovo. After almost three centuries the relics were burnt by the Turks on Vračar hill in Belgrade.


SOPOĆANI an endowment of King Uroš from 1265, is considered to be a gallery of medieval frescoes that withstood seven and a half centuries of glory, as well as abandonment and destruction. All of the preserved frescoes represent the masterpiece of local and Byzantine artists, who had touched heavenly levels, making the Holy Trinity church a Pre-Renaissance achievement, painted several decades before the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, one of the masterpieces of the great Giotto, whose presence in Sopoćani was never confirmed, but seems natural after having seen the Sopoćani art.


GRADAC, built with a few elements of gothic architectural style, is situated on the slopes of Mt. Golija, erected in the late 13th century on the ruins of an earlier church. It is an endowment of Queen Jelena Anžujska (Helen Anjou), the wife of king Uroš Nemanjić. Her marble sarcophagus is posted in the monastery church. The fresco decoration of the interior is considerably damaged, but the endower’s composition is still visible. The original iconostasis is very well preserved. Monastery is functioning as home for a dozen of young and educated nuns and in its glorious beauty represents one of the most attractive Serbian medieval monuments and spiritual centers.



RAVANICA and its buildings are surrounded by strong defensive walls with seven towers. It was the endowment of Prince Lazar. It was built between 1375 and 1377, and its frescoes were painted in the years preceding the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. The benefactor’s composition was added after Lazar’s death in the battle.


LJUBOSTINJA is dedicated to the Holy Virgin. The monastery was built from the 1388 to 1405. In Ljubostinja was buried Princess Milica, the wife of Prince Lazar. After the Battle of Kosovo Polje (Blackbird’s Field) a number of widows of the Serbian knights who perished in the battle, had become nuns. Today Ljubostinja is a female monastery.


MANASIJA is one of the last monuments to Serbian medieval culture. The church was raised by Despot Stefan Lazarević, son of Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović, as his summer castle and burial place. The construction of the Holy Trinity church and the extravagant fortification with preserved and restored eleven 40-meters tall towers, a large refectory and manuscripts workshop, lasted from 1406 to 1418.



KRUŠEDOL is the most important out of the 16 monasteries of the Fruška Gora mountain in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina was built between 1509 and 1514. The monastery, as one of the 16 monasteries that belong to the “Serbian Mount Athos“, is built from stone and bricks in the 15-16th centuries by the clergy that escaped from Central Serbia in fear of the Ottoman invasion. The monastery is endowment of the last Serbian medieval ruling family that fled in 1459 to the Srem Valley – the Branković dynasty. The members of the family and of two patriarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as the first modern-times Serbian king Milan Obrenović, were buried in the church of the Ascension of the Lord.


NOVO HOPOVO is located on the southern slopes of Mt. Fruška Gora, not far away from Belgrade and Novi Sad. All of the monasteries here represent a unique combine of Morava style church and a later added Mittel-European convent. In the 18th century this place represented the most important enlightenment center in Serbia: the famous Serbian cultural figure Dositej Obradović, first education minister of Serbia since 1808, lived there as a monk for some time.



NIKOLJE, the oldest out of 10 monasteries belonging to the Ovčar-Kablar gorge, the “Holy Gorge” of the Serbian Orthodox Church, was erected on the slopes of Mt. Kablar, on the left bank of the Zapadna (Western) Morava River. It dates back to the Middle Age, most probably from the end of the 15 th century, although some scholar consider the arrival of monks dated much earlier as a consequence of the exodus after the Catalan Revenge in the Byzantine Empire in the 14 th century. A large number of the manuscripts has been preserved and kept at the monastery.The most significant of them are well-known as the Nikolje and Karan Gospel.


There is more than a thousand and three hundred Serbian shrines on Kosovo & Metochia. Four of them – the monasteries Visoki Dečani and Gračanica, together with the Patriarchate of Peć, as well as the Lady of Ljeviš church in Prizren, are enlisted under the joint name of “Medieval Kosovo Monuments” on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The territory of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metochia is currently under the administration of the UN Interim Mission (UNMIK). The four edifices reflect the highlights of the Romanic-Byzantine ecclesiastical culture, with its distinct style of frescoes, which developed in the Balkans between the 13th and 17th centuries. Despite the obvious difficulties, a visit to the province
as cradle of Serbian civilization is certainly a must for tourists from all over the world.


The Visoki Dečani monastery was built in the mid 14th century by the Serbian King Stefan Dečanski and his son Emperor Dušan as their endowment. The monastery is settled on the bank of Bistrica River, at the foothill of the highest peak in Serbia. The church represents a successful combination of three-nave basilica church. Visoki Dečani church is the tallest (28m) construction of medieval Serbia, best known for its perfectly preserved 14th century paintings, miraculously preserved like no other Serbian medieval edifice. It preserves 150 manuscripts, as well as valuable collection of icons from the 14th to the 16th centuries, among them the latest depiction of the Nemanjić dynasty family tree.


The Gračanica Monastery was the last monastery built, in the early 14th century, by the Serbian King Stefan Milutin, who had promised God that he would build a church for each of the 40 years of his reign. Inside the nave, scarcely an inch of the stone shows through hundreds of frescoes that ascend the walls and the arches of the domes. Gračanica was built as the endowment of King Milutin, in the form of a five-domed structure with a
cross-in-square layout and façades of alternating rows of brick and stone. At the entrance to the church are the portraits of the endower, King Milutin and his fifth wife, the much younger Byzantine Princess Simonida.


The Patriarchate of Peć is a group of four domed churches, built from the mid 13 th century to the fourth decade of the 14 th century all of which have a joint narthex. First seat of the Archbishopry, since 1345 declared Patriarchate, the monastery is situated at the very entrance to the Rugovska Klisura gorge, not far from the city of Peć. The oldest is the Church of the Holy Apostles, raised in the 13th century with frescoes painted in a unique, monumental style. The frescoes in the narthex were painted in a number of stages over the period from the 14th to the 18th century. By tradition, all of the newly appointed Patriarchs have to seat on the throne of the Patriarch.


Holy Lady of Ljeviš is certainly the masterpiece out of over 30 Serbian Orthodox churches built in medieval times in King Milutin’s capital of Prizren. It was restored in early 14th-century on the remains of a previous church. The triple-nave church was made into one with five naves, five domes, a narthex and an exo-narthex, above which a steeple housing two chapels was built. The frescoes in the church of the Holy Lady of Ljeviš represent the appearance of the new so-called Palaeologue Renaissance style, combining the influences of the eastern Orthodox Byzantine and the Western Romanesque traditions.



One of the greatest Serbian Orthodox holy places is Chilandar, the largest Serbian monastery, located on the northern part of the “Holy Mountain” of Mt. Athos – a “monastic republic” formed of 20 major monasteries, situated on the third leg of the Halkidiki peninsula in northern Greece. The monastery of Chilandar was founded in the 12 th century by Stefan Nemanja, Prince of Serbia and his son Rastko, who subsequently became monks, taking the names of Simeon and Sava, becoming later on Serbian first canonized saints. The monastery keeps the largest collection of Serbian charters, relics of saints and old miraculous icons, the most valuable and most respected in the Christian world. The Monastery has been enlisted into
UNESCO World Heritage List with another 19 monasteries of the Mt. Athos complex of medieval monuments.