CULTURE


THE MIROSLAV GOSPEL – MANUSCRIPT FROM 1180

The Miroslav Gospel, a liturgical book produced in around 1180 is an illuminated manuscript with stylistic and iconographic characteristics resulting from the blending of West (Italian) and East (Byzantine) influences and containing miniatures of exceptional beauty.
It is the earliest preserved Serbian illustrated manuscript, dating from the 12th century and written in Cyrillic, with the status of a national treasure and designated a cultural property of exceptional importance. The Miroslav Gospels are also one of the most beautiful manuscript books in the world, whose global importance has been affirmed by its inclusion in 2005 in the UNESCO Memory of the World register which currently comprises only 120 documents of exceptional and universal importance.
The original of the Miroslav Gospels is kept in the National Museum in Belgrade, with the Serbian National Library responsible for its conservation and protection. There is afacsimile edition with a print-run of 299 copies in the major world libraries, and a digital edition is available too.

CHURCH OF THE HOLY APOSTLES PETER AND PAUL (PETROVA CHURCH), RAS

The Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, also known as Petrova Crkva (Peter’s Church) is among the oldest mediaeval religious properties in Serbia. Historical sources do not tell us when it came to be, but they do mention it as an episcopal see as early as the 10thcentury. It is located on the site of an early Christian structure raised in the 6th century, close to Novi Pazar.
This church has particular importance for Serbian history as key events from the life of Stefan Nemanja are connected with it: his baptism, the council against the Bogomils and the transfer of his rule to son Stefan. The likelihood that Peter’s Church has functioned as a Christian place of worship for more than ten centuries is affirmed by the numerous alterations carried out on the structure and frescoes.
Three layers of preserved painting fragments are dated according to their stylistic characteristics to the 9th-10th centuries, the late 12th and the last decade of the 13th century. The continued respect for this ancient cult site in the last two centuries is evidenced by the necropolis with its large number of imposing tomb memorials.
In 1979 the church was entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Stari Ras and Sopoćani complex.

THE WHITE ANGEL FRESCO – MILEŠEVA MONASTERY XIII CENTURY

One of the most famous images of the Archangel Gabriel is the White Angel (Serbian: Бели анђео or beli anđeo), which is part of a 13th century fresco in the Mileševa monastery.
Considered a beautiful example of European medieval artwork by itself, the image is particularly well-known because it was sent as a message in the first satellite broadcast signal from Europe to America after the peaceful end to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Later, the same signal, containing the White Angel, was transmitted into outer-space in an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life forms.
The original fresco (shown below) depicts the Myrrh-bearing women discovering Christ’s empty tomb. An angel clothed in white, understood by the church to be Gabriel, points to the grave-clothes and proclaims to the frightened women the good news of: “…you seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matt 28: 5-6).

KOSOVO MAIDEN – PAINTING BY UROŠ PREDIĆ

Kosovo Maiden painting by Uroš Predić, is based on the Serbian epic poem. The dying Pavle Orlović is given water by a maiden who seeks her fiancée, he tells her that her love, Milan, and his two blood-brothers Miloš and Ivan are dead.
Uroš Predić – one of the most famous serbian painters of realism, started his work on Kosovo maiden before WWI, and finished it in 1919. It is painted in the spirit of academic realism. This is the most famous painting by Uroš Predić, which has been often reproducted. It is now exhibited in the Belgrade City Museum.

MIGRATION OF THE SERBS - PAJA JOVANOVIĆ, 1896

Paja Jovanović was a greatly talented, virtuous painter, nationally and internationally very successful, rich, praised and adored, although later in his life his art was criticized and dismissed by some of the 20th century art critics as outdated, dry, staged, detached from real life and a sterile example of the Academic Realism. Whatever the point of view of the scholarly art establishment, the fact is that his art was loved by the people. It has been said that, during a certain period, there was almost no Serbian home that did not have a reproduction on the wall of one of Jovanović's famous pictures. 
Migration of the Serbs is a subject with a complicated history. A painting with this subject was commissioned by the Serbian Patriarch Georgije Branković to be exhibited at the Millenial Exhibition held in Budapest in 1896. This subject was appropriate because it concerns the migration of Serbs in the late seventeenth century from Kosovo, where they had lived for centuries, to a region called Vojvodina. Vojvodina (today, mostly in Serbia) at that time was inhabited mainly by Hungarians who had lost much of their former territory to the Ottomans. Jovanović painted the subject showing the various groups forced to move in order to escape retribution by the Ottoman Turks (who threatened the eastern border of Europe for centuries).  Jovanović shows the Serbs being led by the Patriarch at the time, Arsenije III. The migrants include men, women, warriors, and sheep. Branković rejected this treatment of the subject because he felt it portrayed Serbs unjustly as desperate and pathetic exiles. The Serbs, at the request of the Austrian Emperor/Holy Roman Emperor Leopold, had valiantly defended the eastern border, but when they requested reinforcements from Leopold, they were not sent. He did send them an edit permitting them to settle in Vojvodina and to establish a capital on the Danube at Sremski Karlovci (80 kilometers north of Belgrade). Branković felt a more dignified presentation of the subject meant excluding women and sheep and including the edit, carried prominently by the priest to the left of Arsenije III. Unfortuately, Jovanović did not complete this second version in time for the 1896 exhibition.

NAIVE ART – KOVAČICA

Kovačica naïve is the name for the school of naïve art that developed in the village Kovačica. This small village over 40 years doesn't stop to amaze the world with their art, especially paintings. Images worked by uneducated self-taught painters impressed and conquered the world. The motives of these artists are mainly from war or life in rural areas. Their works are in museums and private collections worldwide.
Caracteristics of naive art from Kovačica are strong colours, folk motives and lives of the common people, especially the peasants.
Each one of these artist has a distinctive style of painting.
Naive art is a particular segment of the art of the twentieth century. It is produced by mostly self-taught artists who disagree with the dominant art movements of the time. Naive art is autonomous art that exists independently, separate from external influences. Naive art can not stand the rules.

KRAJPUTAŠI SEPULCHRAL MONUMENTS

One of Serbia's landmarks are sepulchral monuments krajputaši, which can be found in villages, church yards, on the crossroads. Most of them are made of carved stone and they date back to 14th century. Because of their inscriptions they are true works of art that testify about life on the territory of Serbia. The most famous researcher of these memorials Radojko Nikolić called this ethnographic treasure 'the stone book of ancestors', because based on their preserved inscriptions one can create image of a life of Serbian peasant and soldier, his relatives, but also about mastery of the carver. Every monument is a small private history book: there are biographic informations about the deceased, how long he lived, which school he went to, in which troop he served, how many wounds he had and whom he left behind. Most of epitaphs are about soldiers, because of the frequent wars, and most often they had inscribed the deceased man's virtues – humanity, morality and free spirit. At the same time, those are also the saddest epitaphs, especially ones from WWI. Rarely, epitaphs are dedicated to women because at that time in patriarchal environment it wasn't a custom to emphasize moral values of women. Generally, they deserve our attention for their often funny, and sometimes sad messages and sayings inspired by national wisdom, sometimes put into a rhyme.
The human image is most important. It is carved onto the whole east side of the monument, while biography is on the other one. Images are depicted in national costumes which is good basis for ethnographic research. Ornaments have a symbolic value. Vine, grapes, doves, flowers, lives are characteristics of pagan, pre-Christian times, while cross, crucifixion, angels are Christian characteristics. These monument also feature ornaments that symbolize profession of the deceased one: spinner – distaff, flute – a guy, flower – a girl, gun – a soldier, trumpet – a trumpeter. After carving the faces are being painted: faces are white, hair and eyes are black, background is always sky-blue.
Krajputaši monuments are good material for researching culture of one period or a territory, but also an interesting attraction for tourists.

CYRILIC ALPHABET

Serbian is a South Slavic language spoken mainly in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, and Macedonia by about 9-10 million people. It is official in Serbia, and is the principal language of the Serbs.
The occurrence of cyrilic alphabet is tightly linked to brothers Cyril and Methodius. Cyril and Methodius were brothers who brought Orthodoxy to the Slavic peoples of central Europe in the ninth century. In preparation for their mission to the Slavs they devised the Glagolitic alphabet to translate the Holy Scriptures and other Christian writings into what is now called Old Church Slavonic. Glagolitic later developed into the Cyrillic alphabet which is now used in a number of Slavic languages. The two brothers have been recognized as saints, equals to the apostles, for their missionary work.
The modern Serbian Cyrillic alphabet was devised in 1814 by the Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić, and the Serbian Latin alphabet was designed by Croatian linguist Ljudevit Gaj in 1830. Serbian is currently written with both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, which are both officially recognised, although Cyrillic was made the official script of Serbia's government in 2006. Literate Serbians are able to read and write their language in both scripts, and media organisations typically choose to use one or the other.
Serbian orthography has a phonetic/phonemic orthography. A phonetic/phonemic orthography is an orthography in which the graphemes (written symbols) correspond to the phonemes (spoken sounds) of the language. Thus, Serbian orthography is following Johann Adelung's principle of 'write as you speak and read as it is written'.

FOLK ARCHITECTURE

Folk, or vernacular architecture, as opposed to “polite architecture”, is based on craftsmanship that has been learned through practice. It is an architecture born of a particular environment and traditional skills and is dependent on materials from the immediate natural environment, just as the construction design and form is dependent on terrain and climate.
The most widespread examples of folk architecture date to the period around the turn of the 20th century. This was a time when industry was developing and when there was widespread migration to the towns for work, an increase in the transfer of influences to rural construction and greater use of industrial materials, and when the culture of living was undergoing change.
The best folk architects were the pečalbari, migrant workers coming from undeveloped regions with their specialised teams of workmen, such as the Crnotravci from the Vlasina region, after whom, in time, all workmen from the south and southeast of Serbia were named.
TRŠIĆ
The village of Tršić is 9 km south-east of Loznica and is the birthplace Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, creator of the modern Serbian Cyrillic alphabet. The village comprises anethnographic park with memorial house, examples of folk architecture and visitor facilities.
In creating the ethnic village, special care was taken to permanently record and safeguard the memory of Vuk and his work, as well as preserve the natural environment and features of the area. In 1933 a memorial house was raised on the spot where the family home of Vuk Karadžić stood – a two-part log cabin with cellar and a steep roof covered in wood shingles.
In 1964, to mark the 100th anniversary of Vuk’s death, an amphitheatre with stage was built, to be used for staging the Vuk’s Gathering (Vukov Sabor) and Vuk’s Gathering for Children, and in 1987 work on Tršić was completed so that it could serve as a cultural and historical monument in its entirety.

MANOR HOUSES

DUNĐERSKI PALACE (FANTAST), BEČEJ
The manor-house known as Fantast is around 14 km from Bečej on the road to Bačka Topola, in the central part of Vojvodina . It is 60 km from Novi Sad and 135 km from Belgrade. The complex as a whole is 65 hectares in area and includes the house, a small watch-tower, the chapel to Saint George, a stud-farm for race-horses and the park.
The house was built by well-known Vojvodina landownerBogdan Dunđerski, who owned around 1500 hectares of land between the towns of Srbobran and Bečej. It is said that he built the magnificent house purely out of obstinacy, to show that he was not bankrupt. When it was built, the manor-house reflected all the power and wealth of its owner, who never married and had three great passions: women, horses and wine.
Bogdan Dunđerski was friends with the renowned painter Uroš Predić, and when he decided to build the chapel to St George on his estate, in the Neobyzantine style, it was Predić who was entrusted with the job of painting the iconostasis.
Built in the period from 1919 to 1920 it represents a blend of a variety of new styles atypical of this region.
The stables are among the best-known in this part of Europe and the most renowned steeds in the former Yugoslavia were bred here. The stud-farm once occupied more than half of the entire estate and numbered some 1400 thoroughbreds. Today there are around 80 horses in six stables, as well as a race-horse training track. There is a riding school and horses can also be rented to tourists. The complex also comprises apark, harbouring a diverse variety of tree species and well-tended paths.
In 1983 the house was converted to a hotel. It was named after Fantast, the finest horse ever to come from the stables of Bogdan Dunđerski. Besides the hotel, visitors can use the tennis courts and there is also a landing field for small aircraft.
BELIMARKOVIĆA PALACE, VRNJAČKA SPA
Built in the period between 1882 and 1887 to the design of viennese architect franz winter for general jovan belimarković, minister to serbian king milan obrenović and regent to the juvenile king aleksandar obrenović.
This summer residence was built above the boundary of the spa complex of the time, on the slopes above a warm water spring. The opulent Belimarković residence was built in the Romantic Historicism style, with Renaissance elements modeled on the rural villas of northern Italy. The main material used was white marble from Belimarković’s quarry at the foot of the mountain of Goč.
The house has been designated a protected cultural property of great value. Today it operates under the name Castle of Culture and houses the Vrnjačka Banja Homeland Museum and an exhibition area in which frequent concerts, lectures, drama medleys staged by the summer school, book promotions and exhibitions are held.
STRATIMIROVIĆ PALACE AND DUNĐERSKI PALACE, KULPIN
These two Classical-style manor-houses, surrounded by parklands, were built for the Stratimirović noble family. The smaller house was built at the end of the 18th century, the larger in the mid-19th century.
The Stratimirović family was one of the most important Serbian families under the Habsburg Monarchy. They were one of the first and few Serbian families to attain to nobility in return for military services rendered in the Austrian Empire, bestowed by Empress Marie Theresa in 1745.
The park which forms part of the estate was and remains a work of horticultural and botanical art. The larger house is today home to the Agricultural Museum while the smaller house has been turned into local government offices and the offices of Kulpin civic associations. Both houses are classed as cultural properties of great importance.

UNESCO LISTS

The World Heritage list includes almost 1000 properties of cultural and natural value, from all over the world, deemed by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to be places of outstanding universal value.
In selecting the properties which Serbia put forward for inclusion in the World Heritage List, an emphasis was placed on Serbia’s mediaeval heritage, particularly monasteries and royal mausoleums belonging to the Byzantine sphere of cultural influence, but with recognisable national characteristics.
Serbian sites so far added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites: Studenica monastery, Stari Ras and Sopoćani, Mediaeval Monuments in Kosovo and Gamzigrad – Romuliana.
As part of the UNESCO Memory of the World program, Nikola Tesla’s Archive (2003) and the Miroslav Gospel (2005) from Serbia have been added to the World Documentary Heritage register.
Also, the UNESCO MAB Council has declared part of the Golija nature park as the Golija-Studenica Biosphere Reserve.
UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, to which Serbia has its own ambassador.

WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE
Serbian sites so far added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites:
Stari Ras and Sopoćani (1979) – includes Sopoćani and Đurđevi Stupovi, St Peter’s Church and the remains of the Ras and Gradina fortresses.
Studenica monastery (1986)
Mediaeval monuments in Kosovo (2004) – in 2006, besides Dečani, which was separately added in 2004, the monasteries of the Patriarchate of Peć and Gračanica were added, as well as Our Lady of Ljeviš church.
Gamzigrad-Romuliana, Palace of Galerius (2007)

MEMORY OF THE WORLD
The Memory of the World program was initiated in 1997 by UNESCO in order to preserve and promoteworld documentary heritage of universal importance. The World Documentary Heritage register is the equivalent of the World Heritage List of properties of cultural importance. To date, 120 manuscripts, archives and collections from 57 countries of the world have been included in this world register.
A facsimile of the Miroslav Gospels is kept in the UNESCO library in Paris, together with documents, manuscripts and collections belonging to the world’s greatest minds, including Nikola Tesla’s Archive.