Serbian Orthodox monasteries: Sopoćani monastery

The Sopoćani monastery, Serbia
The Sopoćani monastery, Serbia
The Sopoćani monastery (Serbian Cyrillic: Сопоћани), an endowment of King Stefan Uroš I of Serbia, was built in the second half of the 13th century, near the source of the Raška River in the region of Ras, the centre of the Serbian medieval state. It is a designated World Heritage Site, added in 1979 with Stari Ras[1]

On the outskirts of Stari Ras, the first capital of Serbia, there is an impressive group of medieval monuments consisting of fortresses, churches and monasteries. The monastery at Sopoćani is a reminder of the contacts between Western civilization and the Byzantine world.[2]
The Sopoćani monastery, Serbia
The Sopoćani monastery, Serbia
The church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity and completed around 1265, with interior decorated shortly thereafter. Archbishop Sava II, who became the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1263, is represented in the procession of archbishops in the area of the altar. The frescoes of Sopoćani are considered by some experts on Serbian medieval art as the most beautiful of that period. On the western wall of the nave is a famous fresco of the Dormition of the Virgin.[1] 

Dormition of the Virgin, 1265/ Photo Source
In the Middle Ages it was a thriving monastery with more than a hundred monks. The monastic compound is still encircled by a thick wall. The church also served as a royal mausoleum. After the battle of Kosovo, Sopocani monastery was burned by Turks. Even the church was seriously damaged.

Dormition of the Virgin, detail
Reconstruction ensued in the 15th century and by the end of 16th and the beginning of 17th century monastic life in Sopocani was flourishing again. In 1689 Turks burned the monastery once again and it remained deserted until the1960s. After a period of 30 years when the monastery served as a convent it was renewed in 1996 by Bishop Artemy who brought a young brotherhood to Sopocani. This new brotherhood is now actively working on reconstruction and the spiritual rebirth of this important medieval shrine. [3]

A monk on duty, Sopocani Monastery/Photo:

Sopoćani was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia.

The Sopoćani monastery, Serbia
The Sopoćani monastery, Serbia


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