Visoki Dečani

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Visoki Dečani
Native name
Serbian Cyrillic: Високи Дечани
Manastir Visoki Dečani (Манастир Високи Дечани) - by Pudelek..jpg
Visoki Dečani church
Location Deçan, Kosovo[a]
Coordinates 42°32′48.9984″N 20°15′57.999″E / 42.546944000°N 20.26611083°E / 42.546944000; 20.26611083Coordinates: 42°32′48.9984″N 20°15′57.999″E / 42.546944000°N 20.26611083°E / 42.546944000; 20.26611083
Elevation 661 m (2,168.6 ft)
Founded 1327
Official name: Medieval Monuments in Kosovo
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, iv
Designated 2004 (28th session)
Reference No. 724
State Party  Serbia
Region Europe and North America
Official name: МАНАСТИР ДЕЧАНИ
Type Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance
Designated 1947
Reference No. СК 1368[1]
Visoki Dečani is located in Kosovo
Visoki Dečani
Location of Visoki Dečani within Kosovo

Visoki Dečani (Serbian Cyrillic: Високи Дечани) is a major Serbian Orthodox Christian monastery located in Deçan, Kosovo. The monastic katholikon is the largest medieval church in the Balkans containing the most extensive preserved fresco decoration.[citation needed]


The monastery was established in a chestnut grove by Serbian King Stefan Uroš III Dečanski in 1327. Its original founding charter is dated to 1330. The following year the king died and was buried at the monastery, which thenceforth became his popular shrine. Indeed, the epithet Dečanski refers to the king's foundation of the monastery. The construction was continued by his son Emperor Stefan Uroš IV Dušan until 1335, but the wall-painting was not completed until 1350.

The monastic church, dedicated to Christ Pantocrator and built from blocks of red-purple, light-yellow and onyx marble, was constructed by builders working under a Franciscan friar, Vitus of Kotor. The church is distinguished by its imposing size and Romanesque and early Gothic structure and design. Apart from the extensive and well preserved fresco cycles the interior features the original 14th-century stone templon, the throne of the hegumen and the carved wooden sarcophagus of the founder King Stefan.

Visoki Dečani was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1990, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia. 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". In 2006, it was added to the List of World Heritage in Danger due to the potential for attacks by ethnic-Albanians; it is protected by the United Nations' KFOR.

Architectural features[edit]

The church has five-nave naos, a three-part iconostasis, and a three-nave parvise. With a dome, it is 30 m high.[citation needed] Its outer walls are done in alternate layers of white and pink marble. The portals, windows, consoles, and capitals are richly decorated. Christ the Judge is shown surrounded by angels in the western part of the Church. Its twenty major cycles of fresco murals represent the largest preserved gallery of Serbian medieval art, featuring over 1000 compositions and several thousand portraits.



See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


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 107 out of 193 United Nations member states.


  • Bratislav Pantelić, The Architecture of Dečani and the Role of Archbishop Danilo II, Reichert Verlag, 2002.

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