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(To be added to the existing List, submitted on 1993)



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The central part of the Metohija valley which comprises the upper section of the Beli Drim river drainage area is a fertile plain inhabited even in prehistoric times and Antiquity, which came to prominence when at the end of the 13th century the seat of the autonomous Serbian Church was transferred to Pec with the strengthening of the Serbian medieval state and its expansion towards the southern parts of the Balkan peninsula. The Pec Patriarchate and Decani have been in existence since the 14th century as two major ecclesiastical seats in Metohija and their building was accompanied by the erection of a large number of other sacral monuments of outstanding value (Budisavci, Djurakovac, Crkolez, the Belodrim monuments), mainly as the estates of the mentioned monasteries which governed the monastic life of this region, or as foundations of the Serbian nobility. Turkish rule in the Balkans did not affect construction activity and painting which continued unabated led by Pec and Decani as constantly active and powerful strongholds of Orthodoxy. A large number of smaller churches and monasteries (the Belodrim monuments, Gorioc) were erected or restored in parallel. The oldest examples of folk architecture in Serbia - traditionally linked to the main centres of church life in Metohija - have been preserved precisely in this area and date back to the 18th century (Gorazdevac, Locane). In addition to numerous remains of churches with graveyards, the extensive medieval architectural activity in this region is illustrated by numerous fortifications and hermitages located mostly in inaccessible caves of the Rugova gorge while the past two centuries are characterised by a widespread and very specific type of secular architecture adapted to the geographical features of Metohija and the way of life of most of its inhabitants (residential towers).



In historic-artistic and religious terms, the region of Metohija is eminently under the influence of two exceptional ecclesiastical centres, the Monasteries of the Pec Patriarchate and Decani. As architectural and painting masterpieces (in 1994 Decani was nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List) they hallmarked not only the creative endeavour of their epoch but also of centuries to come, their activity in the period under Ottoman rule making them renowned centres of spiritual life around which not only the Serbian people but also members of other confessions rallied.

1. VIRGIN HVOSTANSKA MONASTERY - The Monastery of the Virgin Hvostanska is located at the foot of Mokra Mountain, near the village of Vrelo, 20 km north of Pec. The three-nave basilica with narthex built by mid-6th century belongs the early Byzantine period. In the third decade of the 13th century, the church dedicated to the Assumption was built on its foundations where the bishopric seat was located. This was an one-nave edifice with the dome and altar apse, semi-circular inside and rectangular outside. Two small churches, parecclesions, were on the northern and southern sides of narthex and were, from the outside, masked by the flatly built surface. Two towers were erected above them which surpassed the dome of the shrine. The church belongs to the Raska architecture. In mid-14th century, it was enlarged by an one-nave building with the semi-circular apse on the eastern side and semi-oval dome. The Bishophry of Hvosno became the diocese of a metropolitan in 1381. The second part of the 16th century was the period of flourishing artistic activities in the monastery and the last Metropolit Viktor was mentioned in 1635. The monastery was deserted and began to decay most probably at the time of Velika Seoba (Big Migration) in 1690. The ruins of the monastery complex were explored in 1930 and from 1966 to 1970 when conservation works were carried out on the remains of church, dormitories of the monks and a part of the fortification.

2. THE PATRIARCHATE OF PEC, MONASTERY - The Monastery of the Patriarchate of Pec is located at the very entrance of the Rugova gorge near Pec. The complex of the Pec churches is the spiritual seat and mausoleum of Serbian archbishops and patriarchs. The temple of Holy Apostles was built by Archbishop Arsenije I in the third decade of the 13th century. He was also responsible for the painting of the church around 1260. Archbishop Nikodim built the temple of St. Demetrios next to the northern side of the church of Holy Apostles between 1321 and 1324, while Archbishop Danilo II built the churches dedicated to the Virgin Hodegetria and St. Nicholas on its southern side. He also built the monumental narthex in the shape of a magnificent open porch in front of the western facades of the churches of St. Demetrios, Holy Apostles and Holy Virgin Hodegetria. At the time of Patriarch Makarije, the elegant openings with dual arcades were walled up. An entire history of the styles of medieval wall painting can be seen on the walls of the Pec churches. The church of Holy Apostles was also decorated around 1300, then around 1350 and 1375 and twice in the 17th century. The church of St. Demetrios was painted for the first time at the time of Patriarch Joakinije, around 1345, and the new layer of frescoes was painted by Georgije Mitrofanovic around 1619-1620. The church of the Holy Virgin Hodegetria was painted before 1337, while its narthex was painted in the 14th and 16th centuries. The church of St. Nicholas was painted by painter Radul in 1673/1674. The Monastery is under permanent conservation protection.

3. DECANI MONASTERY - The Monastery is the endowment and mausoleum of King Stephen Decanski, whose son Dusan continued works on it after his father's death. The catholicon dedicated to Christ Pantocrator was built by Father Vita from Kotor between 1327 and 1335, who clothed the ground plan and structure of an Orthodox temple in a Romanesque rendition of the facades with many sculpted ornaments. The frescoes have been almost completely preserved and contain over 1000 individual figures and scenes grouped into over twenty cycles representing the largest preserved source of data on Byzantine iconography. Especially interesting is a series of historical portraits and iconography of the ruling dynasty. The iconostasis with the throne icons is original as are most of the church's mobile property. The Decani Treasury is the richest in Serbia with about 60 icons from the 14th century to the 17th century, old manuscripts and other liturgical objects. Unlike the church, almost all the other buildings of the monastery have lost their original appearance. Conservation works in the whole complex has been going on since the 1930s on a continuous basis, primarily involving the occasional cleaning of the frescoes and repairs of the substantially damaged stone facade and sculpted stone elements. In 1994, the monument was nominated for inscription on the List of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

4. DJURAKOVAC, CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS - The little Djurakovac Church has one nave, semi-oval vault, apse which is three-sided from outside and semi-circular inside and the wooden narthex. It was built with trimmed and broken stone and limestone soaked in mortar and the roof is covered with stone blocks. It was erected on the foundations of an older building from the 14th century which is evidenced by the tombstone of a Danilo, possibly a founder, from 1362. It was completely renewed by the villagers headed by priest Cvetko in 1592 and was painted by "sinful Milija zugraf (painter)" as evidenced by the inscription above the entrance to the naos. The paintings are of average value for that age and were renewed in 1863. The architectural renewal also included the erection of wooden narthex with the door decorated with shallow relief with the inscriptions of the names of founders and engravers. The roofs of narthex and altar are lower than the naos and the floor of exonarthex is considerably below the level of soil. The shrine belongs to the group of cemetery churches similar to those in the Beli Drim valley and represents a rare combination of stone and wood. In its interior, imperial gates built during the transition from the 16th century to the 17th century are kept as well as four big icons from 1630 and the manuscript Bogorodicnik (the book of poems about the Virgin) from the 16th century. In the graveyard surrounding the church, in its older part which stretches to the new one, the tombstone with a deer can be noticed. Conservation works on the architecture, paintings and iconography took place in 1968.

5. CRKOLEZ, CHURCH OF ST. JOHN - The Church of St. John, built by 1355 on the old graveyard above the village of Crkolez, is the endowment of landlord Radoslav (John as monk), buried in the shrine. It was mentioned in the charter of nun Jevgenija (Duchess Milica) in 1395 by which it was confirmed that Duke Novak and his wife Vidosava presented the Church of St. John as a gift to the Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mt. Athos (Holy Mountain). The building is a typical village one-nave church with narthex and semi-oval vault. The apse is five-sided from outside and there is a modest rosette on the western facade carved in the level of the surface of the wall. The paintings from the 14th century were repainted in 1672/1673 by a new layer of the well preserved paintings painted by Serbian most famous painter of the second half of the 17th century named Radul during the rule of Patriarch Maksim. This can be seen by the fresco-inscription on the southern window. Particularly interesting is the detailed representation of the Last Judgment with many sinners, who by their social status belong to the village environment, as well as believers. The inscriptions are written in the folk language which is rare and is a special value of this fresco entity. Eight icons and imperial gates from the old iconostasis are preserved. An exceptionally valuable old collection of manuscripts on parchment and paper dating from the 13th century to the 16th century was kept at Crkolez by 1955 to be moved to the Decani Treasury. Conservation and restoration works on the paintings took place in 1972/1973.

6. BUDISAVCI, CHURCH OF CHIRST'S TRANSFIGURATION - The church dedicated to Christ's Transfiguration was built in the village of Budisavci, 17 km east of Pec, in the 14th century. It is not known whether it was the endowment of a landowner or the founder was King Milutin as can be assumed on the basis of the partially preserved inscription on a stone tablet built in the eastern side of the apse. The tradition even relates this shrine to the sister of King Stephen Decanski. The edifice has exceptionally harmonious proportions, with the foundation in the shape of equally-legged cross with the apse three-sided from outside, dome and narthex which, originally, was lower than the existing one from the 19th century. It was built by the alternate use of stone and brick which was arranged in a decorative manner on certain parts. The original paintings were completely destroyed and the church was partially in ruins. The monastery was renewed in 1568 under Patriarch Makarije. That time left us frescoes whose characteristic is a sure drawing and rich colours, while the representation of founder Makarije certainly falls within the most beautiful portraits of the Serbian painting of the 16th century. During the following centuries, various interventions were carried out on the Budisavci church as the metochion of the Patriarchate of Pec Monastery, both on the church and other monastery buildings. The special treasure of the Budisavci treasury is the icon of the patron saint of the shrine from the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century.

7. BELI DRIM MONASTERIES AND CHURCHES - The part of the Beli Drim valley (whose administrative seats today are Klina of Metohija and Malisevo) is an area whose material traces of life can be reliably followed throughout the entire middle age and the period of the Turkish rule in the Balkans. One of the first Serbian local ascetics of the early 13th century, saint Petar Koriski, was born, entered the monastic order and began his ascetic life precisely in that area. In the Beli Drim basin, the monastic life in mid-14th century was organized under the auspices of Decani (Dobra Voda, Dolac), while the rich district villages (Cabici) belonged to the Decani lands. The mention of their names in hrisovuljas (official documents with a gold seal), which remained unchanged to the present date, is the best proof of the continuity, intensive and creative life in this part of Metohija. Later on, in the changed political and historical conditions, those activities did not lose in their intesiveness. Adjusted to the new conditions, they were expressed in more reduced forms and more modest artistic achievements of the local founders, most frequently villagers of those villages (Drsnik, even two churches in tiny Pogradje, as well as Kijevo and Mlecane, today in the municipality of Malisevo). It is a noble task to preserve them, in their diversity, for future generations.

8. DOBRA VODA, MONASTERY - The hardly accessible crest near the village of Dobra Voda (Unjemir) over the Klina river is most probably the place where ascetic Petar Koriski became a monk in the 13th century. An one-nave stone church of Sts. Peter and Paul as a metochion of the Decani Monastery was erected there in the 1340s. It had the dome on free columns and the pairs of built semi-circular niches on the lateral walls. Sculptural ornaments of stone basis and capitals in the late Gothic style as well as the way it was built testify that it was built by coastal masons. Painted fragments of three standing figures are enough to claim that they were painted by the painters of such stylistic orientation that represents the paintings of the Decani church. During the great renewal in the second half of the 16th century the old church was converted into narthex and enlarged by a modest one-nave church with semi-circular apse, while a spacious storeyed exonarthex was added on its western side. Wall paintings decorated only the apse and lunettes. At a certain period of time, a monastery was built around the church which is evidenced by the remains of massive walls, towers and entry gate. This magnificent edifice with the layers representing many ages is today in ruins and minor conservation works took place in 1966-1967.

9. DOLAC, CHURCH OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE VIRGIN - According to archeological data, there was a monastery on the elevation above the village of Dolac already in the 14th century. The Turkish census of 1455 mentioned the names of its three monks. The great renewal of the monastery at the end of the 16th century and in the first decades of the 17th century is evidenced by the stone remains of the fence wall, tower, entry gate and the fountain, while the storeyed dormitories of the monks are certainly of a later date. A small one-nave church with semi-circular apse is located in the centre of the churchyard. Its only architectural decoration is the arch leaning against consoles which have the contour of the dome on the transversal facades. It has been recently noticed that there are even three chronologically different groups of wall paintings within the church. The oldest, in the zone of standing figures on the western and northern walls, could date back to the transition from the 14th century to the 15th century and, according to the stylistic characteristics, they are attributed to the famous Zrze workshop of monk Makarije. The frescoes in the eastern part of the church date back to the end of the 15th century or the beginning of the 16th century, while the third phase is dated back to 1619/1620. There is no usual founder's inscription, but the names of contributors are written besides the frescoes whose painting they paid. Minor archeological excavation was carried out in the complex in the 1993-1995 period and necessary conservation works on frescoes took place in 1991.

10. DRSNIK, CHURCH OF ST. PARASKEVE - Today, a small church is located in the centre of the village dedicated to popular skoropomocnica (one who helps immediately) St. Paraskeve. Its outer facades are mortared. The church has the stone socle of the roughly arranged stone and the two-guttered roof covered with stone blocks. The one-nave shrine with undivided space is vaulted by the semi-oval vault along its length. The alter apse having the outer irregular semi-circular shape represents from within a deep semi-circular niche which took over the function of the holy throne. Diakonikon and prothesis have niches of rectangular shape on the walls along its length besides semi-circular niches on the eastern wall. Two narrow windows - one on the southern and the other on the apse wall - provide light to the interior. Wall paintings are preserved only on lower surfaces including - besides the standard altar contents - the zones of the socle, standing figures, frieze with saints' busts on medallions and the scenes from the cycle of Great Feasts with added chosen pictures from the cycle of Passion of Christ. As to the style, the frescoes show a sure drawing and the variety of colours and since they are technologically at an enviable level they were the work of an experienced art workshop. Since there are no historical data about the church, it is dated back to the 1570s on the basis of the characteristics of the wall paintings.

11. POGRADJE, UPPER CHURCH - At least three construction phases can be recognized among the remains of a big temple at Pogradje called by the villagers Holy Anargyroi (doctors who healed free of charge). The oldest part is the church in the narrow sense of the word - one-nave naos with arches leaning against the longer walls and the apse preserved in traces. The narthex built subsequently has almost square foundation and is preserved to the height of the beginning of the vault. The remaining wall paintings present unmarked standing figures of saints in the richly decorated clothes. Although small, the fragments lead to the possible conclusion that they were painted by the same painters who painted in the nearby Lower Church, so that this phase could date back to the second half of the 16th century. The third construction phase is represented by the part of wall with rectangular niche leaning against the western corner of the northern facade of narthex. Since the wall has not been archeologically explored, nothing can be said for certain about its original shape and use.

12. POGRADJE, LOWER CHURCH - The cemetery church, today dedicated to Holy Anargyroi Cosmas and Damian, most probably originally had St. Nicholas as its patron, while, subsequently, the villagers gathered there on the holiday of St. Demetrios. Modest one-nave and semi-oval vaulted space is without narthex and with semi-circular niches which mark the prothesis, altar apse and diakonikon. From the outside, the altar apse is semi-circular. The only entrance with arch and lunette is on the western wall, while the three remaining facades have a small window without ornaments. The architectural characteristic of this church is the elevated floor to the level of solea (elevated part in front of the altar) by one stair. The preserved fresco fragments indicate that the approximate time of its building can be considered the second half of the 16th century. Today, wall paintings include the zone of standing figures and some compositions from the cycle of Great Feasts. As to the style, drawings and the bright colours of paintings are of a standard quality and indicate to the average talent of an anonymous painter. Having been ruined for a long time, the church was renewed during extensive restoration works in the 1964-1967 period, domed and covered with two-gutter roof with stone blocks, while the wall paintings underwent conservation and were cleaned from the layers of soot and salt.

13. CABICI, CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS - The medieval settlement of Cabici was the biggest village of the Decani estate mentioned in hrisovulje (official documents with a gold seal) in mid-16th century. A modest, one-nave, semi-ovally vaulted church built with trimmed stone and covered by stone blocks on two-guttered roof was erected there at the end of the 16th century or at the beginning of the 17th century. The only ornament decorating the eastern and western facades is a slightly raised arch marking the contour of the dome. The altar apse is three-sided from outside and semi-circular in its interior, while prothesis and diakonikon are replaced by the pairs of niches. The iconostasis was built subsequently with two passages to the altar. It was built to the height of the dome and had icons on a board. There is one narrow window on the apse and on the southern wall. The interior is decorated by frescoes with the repertoire which, above the zone of standing figures, represents the cycles of Great Feasts and the life of patron. Judging by bright colours, insecure drawing and miniature proportions of figures, the paintings were painted by a painter of modest talent, more inclined to iconography, in the first decades of the 17th century. Icons, which were kept in the church until recently, are of higher artistic value than the wall paintings. Narthex which was built subsequently is today in ruins. Architectural conservation works and the cleaning of paintings were carried out in 1968.

14. KIJEVO, CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS - It is located in the spacious churchyard beside the village cemetery and it belongs to the group of monasteries and churches in the Beli Drim valley that were erected after the renewal of the Pec Patriarchate. The one-nave building was successively enlarged by narthex and belfry. This small church vaulted along its length was certainly built in the second half of the 16th century. The apse, semi-circular by shape from outside, is a niche inside. The church has no wall paintings. The narthex is a spacious building with rectangular foundation and is somewhat lower than the church, has semi-oval dome, is lit from a southern narrow window and has the entrance on the west. It has the completely preserved wall paintings from 1602/1603. The standard but exceptionally rich contents includes chosen Serbian saints, holy warriors and doctors in the zone of standing figures, developed composition of the Last Judgment, ten scenes from the cycle of Passion of Christ and the same number of scenes from the cycle of Christ's activities and miracles as well as the decorations on the top of the vault. A large group of villagers as a collective founder did not succeed in engaging a talented painter so that the narrative wall paintings of the Kijevo narthex has careless drawing and unskillful composition. However, some rare iconography details deny the judgment about their self-taughtness. A solid storeyed belfry was built in front of narthex in the 19th century. Today, the church continues to keep the important collection of chronologically and stylistically different icons.