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Studenica Monastery

Established at the end of the 12th century, this monastery is one of Serbia’s greatest monasteries and is highly regarded by Orthodox Serbs. We entered through the imposing Western Gate, constructed of stone with a wooden pyramid roof.

In the small church known as King’s Church (built in 1314), a special Maundy Thursday service was taking place. The priest was chanting and waving incense. Many of the frescoes in the church were quite well-preserved. As in the Mileševa church, the fresco portraits portray realism rather than simply stylizing figures. I did not feel comfortable looking around very long during the service and quietly went outside.

I took a tour around the exterior of the main church completed in 1191, known as the Church of Our Lady (or Church of the Holy Virgin). A prototype of the Raška School style, the architecture seamlessly blends Romanesque and Byzantine styles. The exterior is covered with polished white marble, unique in Serbian medieval architecture. The cupola is a red color, just like the King’s Church. My favorite architectural element is the 3-windowed apse. Framing the three narrow windows are carvings or elaborately sculptured leaves, figures, and mythological beasts. Carvings of a similar style could be found around one of the doors.

Most of the original frescoes inside the Holy Virgin church were completed in 1209 and repainted in 1569. The Crucifixion fresco is especially splendid. Recent earthquakes (compounding previous ones) have raised questions of stability. Many of Studenica’s remaining treasures (what was left after repeated lootings) are now in a small museum on-site, but it was closed for the day. The dining hall was open for view. In one end was a large fireplace; in the other, a long table for the king and important leaders. The yellow residential quarters looked much newer than the church buildings, dating back to the 18th century. Bedding was hung over the window ledges, airing out even in the rainy weather.
I hope to go back to Studenica and take more photos and enjoy the ambience – hopefully with blue skies that make this UNESCO World Heritage site so captivating.

japiey, mehmetemin, cfreire, Vasa, Tue, Truja has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Zorica Helach (zhelach) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 225 W: 55 N: 832] (3626)
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