Monastery Ravanica

ABOUT

Built during the 1370s, Ravanica is the main endowment of the famous Prince Lazar, where he was buried following his death in the battle of Kosovo. Since then, Ravanica has been a pilgrim's destination and an important center of cultural activities and the Serbian people's assemblies. The monastery has been damaged by the Turks several times, in 1386, 1398, and 1436. In the great war following the second siege of Vienna, a number of monks got killed and the rest of them took the relics of the canonized Prince Lazar and withdrew in face of the Ottoman's offensive in 1690. Only in 1717 was the sole survivor among the monks, teacher Stefan, to come back to Ravanica and find the monastery looted and deserted. With the help of local inhabitants he restored the monastery and built a new narthex. However, the site suffered repeated assaults during the Serbian revolution at the beginning of the XIX c. The new restoration took place in the middle of the XIX c. During World War II, Germans damaged the monastery one more time, and detained, tortured, and killed its archimandrite Makarije on February 24th, 1943.

The Ravanica church is the first monument of the Morava School of the Serbian medieval art. Its ground plan has the form of an enlarged trefoil with a nine-sided dome in the middle and four smaller octagonal domes above the corner bays. There are 62 windows. The church was built in alternate courses of single-line stone and three-line brick. Valuable ceramic decoration makes use of geometric patterns, floral motifs, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic shapes.

The frescoes were not all painted at the same time and by the same artists, though they are mostly dated between 1385 and 1387. The middle-register frescoes, which are of the highest artistic value, were painted by two artists, one of them known as Constantine, who left his signature on a fresco of a warrior saint. Some of the noteworthy compositions include the Communion of the Apostles and the Adoration of the Lamb in the altar apse, as well as the Festival cycle in the upper registers of the church.