VISOKI DE�ANI


VISOKI DE�ANI MONASTERY � XIV century

Visoki De�ani Monastery is situated in the western part of the UN administered Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohia. It was built between 1327 and 1335 by the Serbian medieval king St. Stephen of Decani and was dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord. The monastery is settled in the picturesque valley of the Bistrica river surrounded by the mountains and forests of the Prokletije mountain range. It is the largest and best preserved medieval monastery in Serbia. During its turbulent history the Monastery was an important spiritual centre with developed artistic and intellectual activities. Although the monastery buildings suffered damage from the Turkish occupation, the church has been completely preserved with beautiful 14th century fresco paintings. Today a young brotherhood of 30 brethren lives in the monastery continuing the centuries old tradition of the past. The brotherhood has developed various activities: wood carving, icon painting, book publishing and is also active in the missionary work. The beautiful monastic services are served according to the typicon of Mount Athos.

Visoki De�ani Monastery is a major Serbian Orthodox monastery, situated in Metohija, 12 km south from the town of Pec. Its cathedral is the biggest medieval church in the Balkans which contains the largest preserved monument of Byzantine fresco-painting.

The monastery was established in a chestnut grove by king Stefan De�anski in 1327. Its original founding charter is dated to 1330, however. Next year the king died and was buried at the monastery, which henceforth became his popular shrine. The construction activities were continued by his son Stefan Dusan until 1335, but the wall-painting was not completed until 1350.

The cathedral, dedicated to Christ Pantocrator and built from blocks of red-purple, light-yellow and onyx marble, was constructed by master-builders under the Franciscan monk Vitus of Kotor. It is distinguished from other contemporary Serbian churches by its imposing dimensions and obvious Romanesque features. Its celebrated frescoes comprise some 1000 portraits and cover all major themes of the New Testament. The cathedral contains original 14th-century wooden iconostasis, hegumen's throne and carved sarcophagus of king Stefan.

In 2004, UNESCO listed the monastery on the World Heritage List, citing its frescoes as one of the most valued examples of the so-called Palaeologan renaissance in Byzantine painting and a valuable record of the life in the 14th century.ďż˝




The Monastery has survived after the Kosovo war (1998-2000) and the Brotherhood today lives as an isolated Serbian Orthodox island among hostile Kosovo Albanian Moslem population. This holy site survives only thanks to the protection of Italian forces which have blocked every access to the monastery. Beside all this the Monastery still attracts many international visitors from the UN Mission and KFOR. Thanks to KFOR military convoys occasionally the monastery is visited also by Serb pilgrims from Kosovo and Central Serbia.