Cultural monuments in the district of Studenica

Monday March 13th, 2017 Old Studenica, Interesting, Culture, Home, Tourism0

The monuments are a testament to the past time and their appearance provides information on the time of creation and existence. In Studenica district there is a large number of cultural and historical monuments and some of them enjoy the highest level of state protection. It is generally known that the monastery Studenica is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it is important to mention other monuments in Studenica that are less known.

Studenica Monastery

Monument included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites

Studenica as the most important monastery complex of medieval Serbia today represents a great artistic and spiritual center of the Serbian nation. Since the XII century, when it was founded, this monastic community has never interrupted its centuries-long life, whose cultural layers identify in a series of construction and painting works. This endowment and tomb of the founder of the Nemanjić dynasty served as a role model to many rulers of this lineage, not only as an incentive to raise the mausoleum that resembled the Virgin Church, but also as a place where they could give their personal contribution. Thus, after the construction of the monastery walls and catholicon, as time passed a set of facilities that were supposed to meet the needs of Studenica fraternity started emerging: dining room, king Radoslav’s narthex, the church of St. Nicholas and St. John, King’s Church, residences, etc. Along with the builders, in Studenica worked many painters, from those whose masterpieces of Byzantine frescoes XIII century marked the main Serbian medieval painting, to the court workshop of King Milutin and leading artists restored Patriarchate of Pec, to the painters of the nineteenth century. The treasury keeps some of the Serbian capital specimens of applied art. Added in the List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1986, the monastery Studenica is a monument of culture where continuous protection work is performed.

Upper Hermitage of Saint Sava (Savovo)

Clung to the rocks of Cemerna, ten kilometers away from the Studenica monastery, Upper Hermitage of Saint Sava presents a vivid complex which makes the unity of natural and architectural elements. It’s dated in the beginning of the XIII century and it’s linked to the personality and literary activity of Sava Nemanjic. The hermitage it’s hardly accessible. The oldest buildings – church, residential building and tank – are situated on small extensions pathway which is on the west and east walls of the closed gates. The temple dedicated to St. George is clinging to the cliff with its northern wall. It was built with quarry stone, nave base and a semicircular apse. It’s painted in the beginning of the seventeenth century, at the same time as the church of the Virgin Shroud in Lower ascetics, and it is assumed that Georgije Mitrofanovic worked in both monuments. For a residential part of the monastic habitat (ie. Kula) utilized is the recess in the wall to the outside closed simple, arched walls, while the interior wooden structures are divided into four floors. Below the tower there is building with two rooms built on natural spring. The conservation work on the church and the tower were completed in 1994; protection of other objects of the ambiance ensemble is yet to come.

Lower Hermitage of Saint Sava (Savovo)

The church of Virgin Shroud is situated about ten kilometers northwest of the monastery Studenica, in a dense forest, on the road heading from the delta of Savošnice in Studenica towards Upper Sava’s hermitage. According to legend, this is endowment of Nemanja’s youngest son, Saint Sava. There are no written sources to confirm the folk belief. On the antiquity of this cult place might indicate the existence of multi-level structure, where the basement was used as an ossuary, which is the case with Sava’s hermitage in Karyes. Lower Studenica hermitage is modest in size and rectangular base. The church has nave and altar area with two niches that do not exceed the level of the facade. It is possible that originally there was also a narthex. At the beginning of XVII century the church has undergone its first renewal – the interior is decorated with frescoes of high quality attributed to the most gifted painter of that time, Georgia Mitrofanović. In 1815 the hermitage was restored – it is likely that the residence leaning against the north wall of the church was build then, and it is now an inseparable unity. Four years later, the painter of the famous family of painters, Aleksije Lazović, has partially restored frescoes and painted iconostasis, which still exists today.

Medieval town Maglic

The medieval town Maglic is located on the right bank of the Ibar River, about 25 km southwest of Kraljevo on the road to Raska. It is set on a narrow plateau of a rocky ridge that dominates the entire environment. The castle was probably built in the XIII century. Between 1324 and 1337, Archbishop Danilo II renovated the walls, the church of St. George and other beautiful palaces and equipped them with necessary items and books. After the fall under Ottoman empire Maglič became the seat of the wider area. The city was significant at the time of the Vienna War (1683-1699) and Second Serbian Uprising. It is surrounded with river from three sides, and on the east side a deep trench was dug through the rock. The base fortifications is in the form of an elongated irregular polygon with seven massive towers and donjon. At the top of the walls there were enclosed walkways. Inside the city, in which you could enter through an arched gate on the north side, are preserved significant remains of the palace and church of St. George. The church has nave, elongated rectangular base, with elements that indicate the Gothic style characteristics. It was painted. Eastern of the church is the tank, and alongside the ramparts there were accomodation facilities for the guard and other purposes. The donjon had a special tank. On one of the southern tower there is auxiliary entrance. Archaeological and conservation works lasted, with interruptions, from 1960 to 1987.

Saint Nicholas Church (Usce)

Saint Nicholas Church in Trnjaci near Usce was built on the site where, according to popular belief, Nemanja’s sons Stefan and Vukan have reconciled over their father’s relics that were transferred from Hilandar to Studenica in 1208. The architecture of the temple is characterized by a simple rectangular base with a semicircular apse and emphasized building height. The influence of Gothic conceptions can be noted on the window openings ending with so-called “Saracen” bow. Unlike masonry which is made of quarry stone, the windows are carved from marble, monofora on longitudinal walls, and bifora windows above the entrance portal and the apse. The prevailing opinion is that the construction of the church occurred in the fourteenth century, probably due to the few surviving frescoes on the inside and the outside of the western wall. The remains of frescoes on the west facade are almost completely faded, and it is impossible to determine their content. In the lunette there was bust of the patron of the temple, while on the other side of the same architectural elements relatively well-preserved figures of saint healers, which seem to have been painted on the underside of the arch above the portal. Stylistic features of the frescoes determine its dating to the first half of the XIV century. The church was in exceptionally bad condition until 1968 when it was completely restored.

Saint Nicolas Church (Palez)

In Palez village there is a small church dedicated to St. Nicholas. About this monument, now surrounded by a rural cemetery, there are no written sources – for the founder as well as the time of creation. The main part of the church was probably built in the second half of the XIV century, while the narthex was added later. The church has a single nave, with a deep semicircular apse and pilasters separating the short western aisle from the east. The barrel vault ceiling over the nave is lower than the pediment of the west wall, which dominates in the outer part. Masonry is carried with quarry stone. The interior of the church, as well as its western facade were covered with frescoes that were partially preserved, and partly removed from the walls and transferred to the National Museum in Belgrade in 1947. Although the painted layer is damaged, among other things, due to a fire which happened in an unknown time, it is possible to conclude that this is a work of a skilled craftsman painting whose drawing is confident, and figures are strongly modeled. Stylistic and iconographic peculiarities point to the analogy of Serbian frescoes in the second half of the XIV century. The first conservation interventions were undertaken immediately after the end of World War II. Research, conservation and restoration work on the architecture and the frescoes were performed in the period 1970-1972. 

Church of Our Lady (Vrh)

In the center of the village cemetery there is a church that has changed its patron, and is – except as a Virgin Mary, as it is today – also known as the Church of St. George. The carved inscription above the entrance testifies that it was built 1619/20. This small construction, with single-aisled base has pointed arches and deep semicircular apse in the apex. Its vault also has pointed apex and reinforced arch resting on pillars, so the space is divided into two aisles. It is build with quarry stone, with a secondary use of older tombstones, covered with stone slabs, and the entrance is protected by a canopy resting on stone consoles. Frescoes are partly preserved in the altar and the lateral walls. The monumental scene of Saint George slaying the dragon on the north wall and the composition of the Communion of the Apostles, which are often omitted from the small churches such as this,would be signs for recognition of the experienced artist who made the decoration soon after the construction of the church, certainly in the third decade of the XVII century. Extensive conservation works on architecture were implemented in 1968, and on the frescoes in 1974.

Church of St. Alexy (Milici)

According to legend, which is supported by the existence of a necropolis from the XIII-XIV century, on a hill plateau on the crossroads, builders of Studenica and Pridvorica met and built a church dedicated to the Candlemas. The new patron, Vukasin, built and painted the church in 1636/7. Devoting it to the hermit Alexy. Three and a half centuries later, Vukasin’s church celebrates the holy warrior Theodore. This modest, single-naved construction, with a semicircular apse has barrel-vaulted ceiling. It is built of cut stone, a carefully constructed roof cornice, windows with stone transoms and portal on the west facade. Due to the fact that valt has been demolished long time, the frescoes are preserved in fragments, and only in the lower parts of the walls, reduced to a zone of medallions and standing figures, or the scene of the Bishop’s Altar Serving. Despite the damage you can spot the talent of the painter and his unquestionable experience, expressed through a secure drawing, color processing and fine modulation tones. The almost calligraphic inscription of the donor on the north wall is compared with the handwriting of the masters who painted the monastery Annunciation in Kablar and the nave of the church in Jezevica. The restoration of the demolished church and conservation of the frescos was performed from 1972 to 1973.

Saint Nicholas Church (Zeleznica)

Saint Nicholas Church is in the village of Zeleznica, about 10 km south of the monastery Studenica. It was built in the XVII century, under the influence of Hilandar Construction. Archaeological explored in 1994, according to the surviving elements planned is complete reconstruction. The church is a rectangular building built of hewn sandstone blocks, quarry cut stone and marble tombstones. It can’t be precisely identified how did the floor surface look, it can only be assumed that there were stone tablets in combination with tombstones. The entrance of the church was through a broader steps from the flattened crushed stone and secondary used blocks. The east wall is flat, so that the altar apse and a diaconicon and proskomedia space consists of three niches. The niches along the altar space on the side walls (in total there are four) are derived in the same way, from carefully processed and profiled sandstone blocks with a strong decorative pretensions which are reflected in the processing of stone and dispersed schedule. Marble tombstones were used for the niches, as well as for the seven windows. In the northern corner of the wall at the entrance to the church, discovered was a structure with bench. Profiled wreath of sandstone is preserved at the height of the roof on the east and a smaller part of the northern wall. The church had a gabled roof covered with quarry tiles, and a roof consisted of wooden beams joined together with iron rivets. 

Church of St. Catherine (Kosurici)

Church of St. Catherine is located in a cemetery in the village of Kosurici, about 8 km south of the monastery Studenica. According to the method of construction and general appearance recognizable are features of the local architecture, typical for the first half of the XVII century. The church is in ruins and has not been explored. This is a small single-nave building with a semicircular apse, built of sandstone. It has a semi-cylindrical sinter arch on which rests a gabled roof made of stone tiles. The altar apse area for diaconicon and proskomedia consists of two rectangular, arch shaped niches. The floor was build by tombstones with geometric motifs. The church is threatened from the excavations of new graves, especially on the east side.

Church of Our Lady (Dolac)

The church of Our Lady in the village of Dolac is located a few kilometers south of the monastery Studenica. The almost square base of the temple is small in size, but its two-floor high structure is about 6 m, and this elongated silhouette looks more like a tower than like a church. Two identical rooms, arranged one above the other and arched, probably originally had not been in function of a church. Lower room had one hole on the western side, while the one on the upper floor had four arched openings, of which the north and south were placed along the eastern wall. It is assumed that such a conception of the building indicates its former funerary character. At the time of Despot Djuradj Brankovic, namely 1441/2, there was a renovation and the partly preserved frescoes serve as evidence. As on that occasion wall surfaces on the floor were painted, so it is clear that with the intervention this room was turned into a church: clustered openings on the eastern side were walled up and altar area with a shallow apse, diaconicon and proscomedion was formed. It is assumed that a large narthex was built at the same time. The frescoes are quite fragmentary preserved in the eastern part of the temple. Research and conservation and restoration works were carried out in 1969.

Translation to English : Biljana Vidoevska