Manasija monastery

Exterior view of the monastery Manasija

The monastery Manasija mostly (but is the actual name of the monastery Resava ) called fortified monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church is located in the mountains near the central Homolje - Serbian cities Jagodina and Despotovac in a small side valley of the Morava. It was intended as a grave Put the Serbian Despot Stefan Lazarević. After a long time it was assumed that this was never buried here, the remains of the despot could be identified during archaeological excavations in 2006 in the monastery church.

Manasija forms as an ensemble, the main work of the late medieval Serbian art. It has been planned in its conception as an "ideal town " in an interpretation of biblical concepts. This symbolic role as the image of the " Heavenly Jerusalem " certain generally shaped by the religious thought in the founding ideal of late medieval Serbian monasteries and towns founded whose most sophisticated variant was realized in Manasija.

Basic structure

The monastery is surrounded by a strong double wall with 12 towers. This fortification is considered the most complete in Serbia in the Middle Ages. As eingzige Serbian fortress towers with small balconies, called Machicolation were equipped. A total of 139 Machicolation were set up for the defense. The main defense tower of the plant, the great donjon, is considered the greatest single tower of the medieval Serbian military architecture and is one of the largest towers of the Balkan Peninsula.

Within the so umwehrten system in which in addition to the monumental marble church, nor to today 's largest known public medieval buildings on the territory of Serbia, the dining rooms of the monastery, find Resava in particular related to the establishment of influenced by humanism called Resava Writing under Konstantin Kosten Niemiecki ago as the most important exhibits of Serbian literary activity in the first half of the 15th century in the other Serbian monasteries and cultural centers.

The Catholicon is painted inside with artistically outstanding frescoes that are stylistically to the excellence of the late Byzantine art.

The monastery is currently on the provisional UNESCO list of world cultural heritage and efforts are made to include the monastery in the list of World Heritage of Humanity.

History and Chronicle

The largest and most impressive in many ways the church, which was built in Serbia before the Ottoman conquest, is the Holy Trinity Church of Manasija. The monastery and the church was founded by Despot Stefan Lazarević, ruler of Serbia 1389-1427. The church itself was completed in 1407-1418. It formed after the model of the main foundation of his father, but outperformed Stefan Lazarevićs establishing these in many different aspects. Manasija, as well as the Ravanica should be the mausoleum of its builder. The same plan was applied, but Manasija was significantly larger and reached 14.5 m wide ( 18.5 m with the apses ) and 34.5 m in length.

According to Konstantin costs Niemiecki the despot was planning to build a great building.

" He recruited for the major builders and talented muralist, and was looking for you on the islands "

The large, rectangular narthex was like that in the Ravanica monastery in Ottoman arson, of which the first occurred in 1439, destroyed. The church owned large bells that were lost as well in another arson attack in 1476. Although the present narthex shows the same layout as the original, however, dates the construction of a restoration in the 19th century. Whether the narthex originally had a bell tower, is not clear. Only the decorated with geometric marble floor deposits in the narthex is still preserved in its original form. The main part of the church building is substantial but still observed today in its original version.

After Manasija was 1444 reverted to Đurađ Brankovic, Sultan Mehmed II Fatih conquered the city in the wake of the Belgrade campaign 1456. After the Ottomans were repulsed before Belgrade, they also left the strategically important Manasija. On May 10, 1458 Manasija was finally handed over to Mehmed Pasha Andjelkovic. During the Ottoman rule, a smaller Turkish military unit was stationed in the monastery. 1689 conquer the Austrians the monastery. At this time, however, had already Manasija lost all strategic importance. From 1718 to 1739 the Austrians maintained a military unit in the fortress. Outside of the actual monastery they built for a barracks.

From 1806 to 1810, the abandoned and partially ruined monastery was renewed for the first time under an appanage of Karađorđe. Knez Miloš Obrenović in 1832 remained in the monastery. 1844-1845 the dilapidated roof was repaired. Since the mid-19th century began by the renewal of monastic cells once again an active monastic life. 1857 Russian Empress Maria Alexandrovna donates dteser community of monks gilded gospel.


In the nearly oval design of the system was in use as a general design concept of Serbian monasteries since the end of the 12th century. This has been here given as an image of the " heavenly Jerusalem " a symbolic meaning. This established form of monastic systems was transformed in the execution in the construction of the monastery Manasija in a powerful Christian stronghold, with a system of high Maueren and the salience of eleven massive towers. A lower Wall umfriest the main wall and a broad ditch is at the defensive walls.

Two of the towers are octagonal, run the rest of rectangular. All but one are built open inwards towards, a practice that is typical of Serbian medieval fortifications. The complex is entered through a single gate on the west side, which is flanked by two towers. One of such doppeltürmiges gate was unknown in the late Byzantine culture, whereas this was common use in the West. The possibility that this is due to a concept of Western military architecture, as well as a possible symbolic role as a gate to the " Heavenly Jerusalem " the subject of research on the construction history Manasijas.

The lower outer wall surrounding the entire complex and increases the effectiveness of the defenses. Dominating the fortress of a single massive tower, the Donjon, a masterpiece of military architecture. With a footprint of 14.6 x 14.6 m (20 x 20 m at the base of the sloped base ) has these seven floors and is 35 meters high. As such, it represents one of the largest fortified towers of the Balkan Peninsula Represents the penultimate floor is equipped with a system of cantilevered Machicolation, another from the West imported defense concept that in the Serbian military architecture probably the first time here was used.

Donjon the Verteidiungsmauern

Gate in the perimeter wall



The elaborate five-domed church is as a type of epiphany Morava school. The marble cladding can be echoes of earlier royal tombs of Nemanjić seen ( Visoki Dečani Monastery, Monastery Studenica ). As a direct role models of the five -domed cruciform church at the monastery Ravanica Ćuprija and the Archangels Monastery near Prizren have served.

The plan of the church repeats the scheme of Ravanica in a slightly larger version. The central domed space is as defined in Ravanica, by four large cylindrical columns, each of which carries four narrow diagonal Kolonetten. The dome measures 4.5 m in diameter and rises to 21 m. It underlines the prevailing desire a vertical accent. This is reinforced in the four Eckkuppeln again, their tall, narrow silhouette emphasizes the external effect in the vertical height urge.

The biggest surprise of the architectural effect of the church is based on the pale marble facade. It is constituted of finely cut stone blocks, which virtually lacks any sculptural decoration. Therefore, the general stylistic impression is more like a Roman church as the Byzantine one.


As generally all Byzantine churches, the inner walls of the katholikon were painted with pictorial scenes from the Old and New Testament. After Vojislav Djuric the frescoes are stylistically connected with contemporary work in Thessaloniki and training of painters Manasijas in this important Byzantine art center most likely. After Thessaloniki had fallen under Ottoman rule in the late 14th century for the first time, emigrated many artists and their Painters workshops in the Serbian Despotate. Here unfolded in its new environment, a new impetus in the iconography, the volume and decor of the figures shown, the harmony of color design of the space, the type of the saints depicted and a general revival of artistic heritage through perfecting and completing the painting of the frescoes Manasijas a more poetic character gave.

The paint program Manasijas is characterized in particular in the aristocratic and chivalric scenes by cool harmony and solemn representation. The holy warriors and the founder portrait are the most well-known representations. The quality of the painting Manasijas is one of the highlights of the late Byzantine art and about the same time paint programs in Russia ( Andrei Rublev ), Greece ( Mystras ) and Serbia ( Kalenić ) a major work of the 15th century.