View of the Banjska monastery church
|Full name||Манастир Светог архиђакона Стефана - Бањска|
|Established||1317, (reestablished in 2004)|
|Dedicated to||Saint Archdeacon Stephen|
|Diocese||Eparchy of Raška and Prizren|
|Founder(s)||King Stefan Uroš II Milutin|
|Location||Hill near Zvečan, Kosovo[a]|
Banjska Monastery (Serbian: Манастир Бањска, Manastir Banjska), ( listen (help·info)), is a Serb Orthodox monastery in the Banjska village near Zvečan in the Kosovo and Metohia southern province of Serbia.
The monastery, along with St. Stephen's Church was built between 1313 and 1317 and was founded by the Serb King Stefan Uroš II Milutin, one of the most powerful Balkan rulers of the period and one of the most powerful rulers of the entire Nemanjić dynasty. Milutin built the church as his burial place and it is there that he was first laid to rest. However, following the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 his body was moved to Trepča and then in 1460 to the Bulgarian city of Sofia, where it lies to this day.
The monastery shared the fate of its founder. The monumental building with its church, library, monks' quarters and "imperial palace" began to fall into disrepair very early. At the beginning of the 15th century, a fire destroyed the library and in the second half of the same century the monastery was probably abandoned. Kuprešić, an author writing about his travels, mentions that the monastery was razed to the ground in the 16th century on the orders of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, as Christians who had fled Turkish slavery were gathering in it.
St. Stephen's church, which was almost totally destroyed, was turned into a mosque in the 19th century and served as such until World War I. The first conservation activity was carried out in 1939 and again in 1990, when the church was partly rebuilt.
Banjska Monastery is one of the few for which the founding charter has been preserved. From it we can see that the monastery was granted a large estate at its founding, of 75 villages and 8 pastures.
As the complex was built as the final resting place of a king, the Bishopric was "upgraded" to a stavropegial monastery - roughly translated, an Imperial Monastery, fourth by rank in the state (after Studenica, Mileševa and Sopoćani). The building works were led by Archbishop Danilo II, at that time a prior, later a Serb Archbishop. He was a close confidant of the king, as well as a man of letters and great knowledge. According to medieval sources, as well as oral tradition, Banjska was one of the most beautiful Serb monasteries, built in the style of the Raška school, which was used for all royal mausoleums, from Stefan Nemanja's Studenica monastery to Emperor Dušan's Saint Archangels Monastery.
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Notes and references
|a.||^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Kosovo. The latter declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 106 out of 193 United Nations member states.|