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Žiča Monastery
Manastir Žiča.jpg
Žiča Monastery
Žiča is located in Serbia
Location within Serbia
Monastery information
Full name Манастир - Жича
Order Serbian Orthodox
Established 1207-1217
Dedicated to Christ the Pantocrator
Diocese Eparchy of Žiča
Founder(s) Stefan Prvovenčani
Important associated figures Stefan Milutin
Location Trg Jovana Sarića 1, Kraljevo, Serbia
Coordinates 43°41′46.68″N 20°38′44.66″E / 43.6963000°N 20.6457389°E / 43.6963000; 20.6457389
Public access Yes
Other information

Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance
(Cultural Heritage of Serbia)


Žiča (Serbian Cyrillic: Жича, pronounced [ʒîtʃa] or [ʒîːtʃa][1]) is an early 13th-century Serb Orthodox monastery near Kraljevo, Serbia. The monastery, together with the Church of the Holy Dormition, was built by the first King of Serbia, Stefan the First-Crowned and the first Head of the Serbian Church, Saint Sava.

Žiča was the seat of the Archbishop (1219–1253), and by tradition the coronational church of the Serbian kings, although a king could be crowned in any Serbian church, he was never considered a true king until he was anointed in Žiča.

Žiča was declared a Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and it is protected by Serbia.[2] In 2008, Žiča celebrated 800 years of existence.


Founding of Serbian Church[edit]

Žiča Monastery entrance

The Serbs were initially under the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Ohrid, under the tutelage of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

Rastko Nemanjić, the son of Stefan Nemanja, ruled as Grand Prince of Hum 1190-1192,[3] previously held by Grand Prince Miroslav.[4] In the autumn of 1192 (or shortly thereafter)[5] Rastko joins a Russian monks and travels to Mount Athos where he takes monastic vows and spends several years, in 1195 his father joined him, and together they founded the Chilandar, as the base of Serbian religion.[6] His father dies in Hilandar on February 13, 1199, he is canonised, as Saint Simeon.[6] Rastko built a church and cell at Karyes, where he stayed for some years, becoming a Hieromonk, then an Archimandrite in 1201. He writes the Karyes Typicon during his stay there.[6]

He returns to Serbia in 1207, taking the remains of his father with him, which he relocates to the Studenica monastery, after reconcileing Stefan II with Vukan, who had earlier been in a successation feud (civil war). Stefan II asks him to remain in Serbia with his clerics, which he does, starting a widespread pastoral and educational duty to the people of Serbia. He founds several churches and monasteries, among them the Žiča monastery.[6]


It was founded by King Stefan Prvovenčani and Saint Sava,[6] in the Rascian architectural style, in 1207 or shortly thereafter. It was built with help of Greek masters.[7] The red color of the exterior walls is a symbol of the blood of the martyrs of the early Christian church.


Church of the Holy Dormition in the monastery
Žiča in 1889

In 1219, the Serbian Church gains autocephaly, by Emperor Theodore I Laskaris and Patriarch Manuel I of Constantinople, and Archimandrite Sava becomes the first Serbian Archbishop.[8] The monastery acts as the seat of the Archbishop of all Serbian lands.

Saint Sava crowning his older brother Stefan Prvovenčani as "King of All Serbia" in the Žiča monastery.[8] In 1221, a synod was held in the Monastery of Žiča, condemning Bogomilism.[7]

When Serbia was invaded by Hungary, Saint Sava sent Arsenije I Sremac to find a safer place in the south to establish a new episcopal See. In 1253 the see was transferred to the Archbishopric of Peć (future Patriarchate) by Arsenije.[9] The Serbian primates had since moved between the two.[10]

In 1289-1290, the chief treasures of the ruined monastery, including the remains of Saint Jevstatije I, were transferred to Peć.[11]

Sometime between 1276-1292 the Cumans burned the monastery, and King Stefan Milutin renovated it in 1292-1309, during the office of Jevstatije II.[9]

Patriarch Nikon joined Despot Đurađ Branković when the capital was moved to Smederevo, following Turkish-Hungarian wars in the territory of Serbia in the 1430s.[10]

After the First Serbian Uprising, the Ottomans destroyed the monastery.



Frescoes depicting Pantocrator.[12]

The leading painter was from Constantinople.[13]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pravopisna komisija, ed. (1960). "Žiča". Pravopis srpskohrvatskoga književnog jezika (Fototipsko izdanje 1988 ed.). Novi Sad, Zagreb: Matica srpska, Matica hrvatska. p. 288. 
  2. ^ Spomenici kulture, entry 548
  3. ^ The Late Medieval Balkans, pp. 19–20.
  4. ^ The Late Medieval Balkans, p. 52
  5. ^ The entry of the Slavs into Christendom, p. 218
  6. ^ a b c d e Đuro Šurmin, Povjest književnosti hrvatske i srpske, 1808, p. 229
  7. ^ a b A. P. Vlasto, The entry of the Slavs into Christendom, p. 222 and 233
  8. ^ a b Silvio Ferrari, W. Cole Durham, Elizabeth A. Sewell, Law and religion in post-communist Europe, 2003, p. 295. ISBN 978-90-429-1262-5
  9. ^ a b István Vásáry, Cumans and Tatars: Oriental military in the pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185-1365, p. 100-101
  10. ^ a b Serbia: the history behind the name, p. 11
  11. ^ Radivoje Ljubinković, The Church of the Apostles in the Patriarchate of Peć, p. viii
  12. ^ "Singers in Late Byzantine and Slavonic Painting: - Neil K. Moran - Google Boeken". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  13. ^ "The Kariya Djami - Paul A. Underwood - Google Boeken". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  14. ^ (In Greek) Stephanos Pappas, Formation and Evolution of Communities, Municipalities and the Prefecture of Ioannina, 2004. Original title: Στέφανος Παππάς, Σύσταση και Διοικητική Εξέλιξη των Κοινοτήτων, των Δήμων & του Νομού Ιωαννίνων, λήμμα Δήμος Ζίτσας. Έκδοση ΤΕΔΚ Νομού Ιωαννίνων, 2004, ISBN 960-88395-0-5

External links[edit]