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"Chilandar" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Chilandar, Iran.
External view of the monastery.
Hilandar is located in Mount Athos
Location within Mount Athos
Monastery information
Full name Holy Monastery of Hilandar
Order Serbian Orthodox Church (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople)
Established 1198
Dedicated to Three-handed Theotokos (Virgin Mary)
Founder(s) Saint Sava and Saint Symeon
Location Mount Athos, Greece
Coordinates 40°20′46″N 24°07′08″E / 40.346111°N 24.118889°E / 40.346111; 24.118889
Public access Men only

The Hilandar Monastery (Serbian Cyrillic: Манастир Хиландар, pronounced [xilǎndaːr], Greek: Μονή Χιλανδαρίου) is the Serbian Orthodox monastery on Mount Athos in Greece. It was founded in 1198 by first Archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church Saint Sava and his father, Serbian Grand Prince and founder of the Nemanjić dynasty Stefan Nemanja, who, after relinquishing his government duties, became a simple monk Symeon at Hilandar. It has been the focal point of Serbian religious and secular culture,[1] and "the first Serbian university".[2] It is ranked fourth in the Athonite hierarchy of 20 sovereign monasteries.[3] The Mother of God through her Icon of Three Hands (Trojeručica), is considered the abbess.[4]


The etymological meaning of the name "Hilandar" is possibly derived from chelandion, a type of Byzantine transport ship, whose skipper was called a "helandaris".[5]


The monastery was founded in 1198, when Byzantine Emperor Alexios III Angelos (1195–1203), encouraged by the Mount Athos monastic community, issued a golden sealed chrysobulls donating the ancient monastery Helandaris, "to the Serbs as eternal gift...," thereby designating it, "to serve the purpose of accepting the people of Serbian ethnicity, who sought to pursue the monastic way of life, as the monasteries of Iberia and Amalfi endure on the Mount, exempted from any authority, including the authority of the Mount's Protos."[6] Hilandar was thereby given to Saint Sava and Saint Symeon to establish and endow a new monastery, which was to be elevated to the imperial rank.[5] It became a cornerstone of religious, educational and cultural life for the Serbian people.[7]

The ancient monastery Helandaris was first mentioned in one Greek manuscript from 1015 as being "completely abandoned and empty" which is why it was temporarily placed under the authority of the Kastamonitou monastery. Certain George Chelandarios (Boatman), prominent among the Athonites in 980, was probably the original founder of this ancient monastery prior to the arrival of the Serbs. The monastery had already been dedicated to the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple (November 21), while it soon thereafter became a prey of continuous pirate attacks.

Upon securing the Serbian authority in the monastery, Saint Sava and Saint Symeon constructed between 1198-1200 the church of the Entrance of the Theotokos, in addition to Saint Sava's tower, the Kambanski tower and Saint Symeon's cells. Saint Symeon's middle son and Saint Sava's older brother, Serbian Grand Prince Stefan "the First-Crowned" financed the monastery's restoration. As founder of the Hilandar Monastery, Saint Symeon issued the founding charter or chrysobulls which survived until World War II, when it was destroyed in the Operation Retribution and the notorious April 6, 1941 German bombing of Belgrade that leveled to the ground the building of the National Library of Serbia in Kosancicev Venac. Following 1199, hundreds of monks from Serbia moved into the monastery, while the large pieces of land, metochions and tax proceeds from numerous villages were given to the monastery, especially from the Metohija region of Serbia.[8]

On February 13, 1200 Saint Symeon died in the monastery where he was buried in the Entrance of the Theotokos church. His body remained in Hilandar until 1208 when his myrrh-flowing remains were transferred to the mother-church of all Serbian churches, the Studenica Monastery, which he completed in 1196.[9] Following the relocation of Saint Symeon's remains, widely known grapevines started growing from his former grave giving to this day miraculous grapes and seeds that are being shipped all over the world as a form of blessing to the childless married couples.[10] After his father's death, Saint Sava moved to his Karyes hermitage cell, where he finished writing the Karyes Typikon, a book of directives that became model for eremitical monasticism all across the Serbian lands.[11] He also wrote the Hilandar Typikon regulating the spiritual life in the monastery and organization of various services and duties of the monastic community. The Hilandar Typikon is based in part on typikon of the Monastery of Theotokos Evergetis in Constantinople.[12]

The Nemanjić period and late Byzantine Empire[edit]

After the Fourth Crusade and Crusader sack of Constantinople in 1204, Athos came under the Latin Occupation, which exposed the Athonite monasteries to unparalleled pillage. As a result, Saint Sava travelled to Serbia providing more support for the monastery. He also went to the Holy Land where he visited The Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified in Palestine and received the most revered Hilandar relict, miraculous icon of Three-handed Theotokos (Trojeručica) painted by St. John of Damascus. In his last will, St. John of Damascus ordered the Mar Saba monastery brethren to add the Three-handed Theotokos icon to the old prophesy oath made by Saint Sabbas the Sanctified, which adjured the brethren to give the icon of Milk-feeding Theotokos and his hegumen cane to the "namesake monk of royal birth from a faraway land" who will, during the pilgrimage at the monastery, experience the fall of St. Sabbas's hegumen cane affixed above his grave while venerating the icons and praying on the spot.[13]

Serbian kings Stefan Radoslav and Stefan Vladislav, Saint Sava's nephews, significantly endowed the monastery with new lands and proceeds. Dealing with the consequences of Crusader Latin plunder, King Uroš the Great built a large fortification, as well as the protective tower named after the Transfiguration of Christ. King Dragutin also expanded the monastery proceeds and metochions and worked on reenforcing the defensive fortifications. As soon as the Latin Occupation ended in the areas surrounding the Mount Athos, the new waves of raids hit the monastic republic. During the early years of the 14th century, pirate mercenaries of the Catalan Grand Company raided the Holy Mountain, looting and sacking many monasteries, plundering the treasures and Christian relicts, and terrorizing the monks. Of the 300 monasteries on Athos, Hilandar was among 35 that survived the first decade of the 14th century and it was thanks to deputy igumen Danilo that Hilandar secured its survival.[14]

Serbian King Milutin is the greatest and most important builder of the Hilandar monastery complex. In 1320 he completely reconstructed the cathedral church of Entrance of the Theotokos which took the present shape and became the symbol of Hilandar. The monastery complex was expended to the North with the new cells and fortifications. He has also built the new entrance gate with the small church dedicated to Saint Nicholas, as well as the monastery dining chamber. During the reign of King Milutin several towers were erected, the Milutin tower, located between the monastery port and eastern wall, and Hrussiya tower on the seaboard. Massive iconographic work took place in the King Milutin era starting from the cathedral church to the dining chamber, grave church etc.

In 1426 Gjon Kastrioti, an Albanian lord, and his three sons (one of whom was Skanderbeg) donated the right to the proceeds from taxes collected from the two villages of Rostuša and Trebište (in Macedonia) and from the church of Saint Mary, which was in one of them, to the Hilandar where his son Reposh retired and died on 25 July 1431: in his honor the Tower of St. George of Hilandar was known as the "Albanian tower" (Serbian: Arbanaški pirg).[15][16] By the end of the 15h century according to the Russian pilgrim Isaiah, the monasteries in the area were both Albanian and Serb.[17]

Ottoman and modern period[edit]

Hilandar Monastery during King Aleksandar Obrenović's visit in 1896.

The Byzantine Empire was conquered in the 15th century by the newly established Ottoman Empire. The Athonite monks tried to maintain good relations with the Ottoman sultans and therefore when Murad II conquered Thessaloniki in 1430 they immediately pledged allegiance to him. In return, Murad II recognized the monasteries' properties, something which Mehmed II formally ratified after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In this way the Athonite independence was somewhat guaranteed. Two medieval Bulgarian royal charters, the Virgino Charter and the Oryahov Charter, have been found in Hilandar's library, attesting to the allegiance.

The 15th and 16th centuries were particularly peaceful for the Athonite community. This led to relative prosperity for the monasteries. An example of this is the foundation of Stavronikita monastery which completed the current number of Athonite monasteries. According to author Georgi Gulabov-Roshavski of the history of Zograf Monastery, following the conquest of the Serbian Despotate by the Ottomans many Serbian monks came to Athos. The extensive presence of Serbian monks is depicted in the numerous elections of Serbian monks to the office of the protos during the era. In the 17th century the number of Serbian monks dwindled, and the disastrous fire in 1722 saw a decline: in his account of 1745, Russian pilgrim Vasily Barsky wrote that Hilandar was headed by Bulgarian monks.[18] Ilarion Makariopolski, Sophronius of Vratsa and Matey Preobrazhenski had all lived there, and it was in this monastery that Saint Paisius of Hilendar began his revolutionary Slavonic-Bulgarian History. The monastery was dominated by Bulgarians until 1902.[19]

A view of the Hilandar Monastery in 2006, after the Great Fire, and during first stages of the reconstruction process.

However, in 1913, Serbian presence on Athos was quite big and the Athonite protos was the Serbian representative of Hilandar.[20]


In the 1970s, the Greek government offered power grid installation to all of the monasteries on Mount Athos. The Holy Council of Mount Athos refused, and since then every monastery generates its own power, which is gained mostly from renewable energy sources. During the 1980s, electrification of the monastery of Hilandar took place, generating power mostly for lights and heating.

On March 4, 2004, there was a devastating fire at the Hilandar monastery, with approximately 50% of the walled complex destroyed in the blaze. The blaze damaged the northern half of the walled complex, including the bakery. The library and the monastery's many historic icons were saved or otherwise untouched by the fire. Vast reconstruction efforts are underway, to restore Hilandar.

Sacred objects[edit]

Icon of the Theotokos, "The Three-handed" (Trojeručica)

Among the numerous relics and other holy objects treasured at the monastery is the Wonderworking Icon of the Theotokos "Of the Akathist", the feast day of which is celebrated on January 12. Since Mount Athos uses the traditional Julian Calendar, the day they name as January 12 currently falls on January 25 of the modern Gregorian Calendar.

A sculpture on a rock presenting Saint Symeon, the founder of Hilandar Monastery

The monastery also possesses the Wonderworking Icon of the Theotokos "Of the Three Hands" (Greek: Tricherusa, Serbian: Тројеручицa), traditionally associated with a miraculous healing of St. John Damascene. Around the year 717, St. John became a monk at Mar Sabbas monastery outside of Jerusalem and gave the icon to the monastic community there. Later the icon was offered to St. Sava of Serbia, who gave it to the Hilandar. A copy of the icon was sent to Russia in 1661, from which time it has been highly venerated in the Russian Orthodox Church. This icon has two feast days: June 28 (July 11) and July 12 (July 25). Also Emperor Stefan Dušan's sword is in monastery treasure.

The library holds 181 Greek and 809 Slavic manuscripts, about 20 000 printed books (3 000 in Greek language).

The monastery contains about 45 working monks.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ken Parry (10 May 2010). The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 233–. ISBN 978-1-4443-3361-9. 
  2. ^ Om Datt Upadhya (1 January 1994). The Art of Ajanta and Sopoćani: A Comparative Study : an Enquiry in Prāṇa Aesthetics. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 65–. ISBN 978-81-208-0990-1. 
  3. ^ "The administration of Mount Athos". Retrieved 2016-04-06. 
  4. ^ Hilandar – The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity
  5. ^ a b Tibor Zivkovic - Charters of the Serbian rulers related to Kosovo and Metochia. p. 15
  6. ^ "За спас душе своје и прибежиште свом отачеству". Retrieved 2016-04-05. 
  7. ^ John Anthony McGuckin (15 December 2010). The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 2 Volume Set. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 560–. ISBN 978-1-4443-9254-8. 
  8. ^ "Хиландарски поседи и метоси у југозападној Србији (Кособу и метохији)". hilandar.info. Retrieved 2015-07-21. 
  9. ^ Vlasto, The Entry of the Slavs Into Christendom: An Introduction to the Medieval History of the Slavs, p. 219
  10. ^ "The Monastery of Hilandar". Retrieved 2016-04-04. 
  11. ^ Bogdanović 1999, Предговор, para. 13, Карејски типик
  12. ^ Bogdanović 1999, Предговор, para. 14
  13. ^ "Miraculous Icon - The Virgin with three hands (Bogorodica Trojeručica)". hilandar.info. Retrieved 4. 21. 2016..  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  14. ^ Vásáry, István. Cumans and Tatars: Oriental Military in the Pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185–1365. Cambridge University Press=Cambridge, UK. pp. 109–110. ISBN 1139444085. 
  15. ^ Slijepčević, Đoko M. (1983). Srpsko-arbanaški odnosi kroz vekove sa posebnim osvrtom na novije vreme (in Serbian). Himelstir. p. 45. Retrieved 7 July 2011. Заједно са синовима Константином, Репошем и Ђурђем приложио је Иван Кастриот манастиру Хиландару село Радосуше са црквом св. Богородице и село Требиште....Због тога је и пирг св. Ђорђа прозван »арбанашки пирг». Репош је умро у манастиру Хиландару 25. јула 1431. године и ту је сахрањен. (Together with his sons Konstantin, Repoš and Đurađ, Ivan Kastriot donated village Radosuše with church of saint Mary and village Trebište to the monastery Hilandar... Therefore the tower of Saint George was named "Albanian tower". Repoš died in Hilandar on July 25, 1431 and he was buried there. 
  16. ^ Petković, Sreten (2008) [1989], Hilandar (in Serbian), Belgrade, p. 21, ISBN 978-86-80879-78-9, ... a Ivan Kastriot sa sinovima iz Albanije otkupljuje jedan pirg od Hilandara da bi po potrebi tu mogao naći utočište. (... and Ivan Kastriot with his sons from Albania bought one tower of Hilandar to provide a shelter for them in case of need). 
  17. ^ A. E. Bakalopulos (1973). History of Macedonia, 1354-1833. [By] A.E. Vacalopoulos. p. 166. At the end of the 15th century, the Russian pilgrim Isaiah relates that the monks support themselves with various kinds of work including the cultivation of their vineyards....He also tells us that nearly half the monasteries are Slav or Albanian. As Serbian he instances Docheiariou, Grigoriou, Ayiou Pavlou, a monastery near Ayiou Pavlou and dedicated to St. John the Theologian (he no doubt means the monastery of Ayiou Dionysiou), and Chilandariou. Panteleïmon is Russian, Simonopetra is Bulgarian, and Karakallou and Philotheou are Albanian. 
  18. ^ "Chilandari". Mount Athos. Retrieved 2008-10-09. In the 17th century the number of monks coming from Serbia dwindled, and the 18th was a period of decline, following a disastrous fire in 1722. At that time the Monastery was effectively manned by Bulgarian monks. 
  19. ^ "Хилендарски манастир" (in Bulgarian). Православието. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  20. ^ Panagiotis Christou, "To Agion Oros", Patriarchal Institute of Patristic Studies, Epopteia ed., Athens, 1987 pp. 313-314


  • Dimitrije Bogdanović; Vojislav J. Đurić; Dejan Medaković; Miodrag Đorđević (1997). Chilandar. Monastery of Chilandar. 
  • Sreten Petković (1 January 1999). Chilandar. Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the Republic of Serbia. ISBN 978-86-80879-19-2. 
  • Branislav Cvetković (2002). Eight centuries of the Monastery of Chilandar at Mount Athos. Zavičajni muzej. ISBN 978-86-902543-2-3. 
  • Miodrag B. Branković; Marin Brmbolić; Milorad Miljković; Verica Ristić. Chilandar Monastery. Republički zavod za zaštitu spomenika kulture. ISBN 978-86-80879-48-2. 
  • Rajko R. Karišić; Mihajlo Mitrović; Gordana Najčević (2003). Chilandar - unto ages of ages. R. R. Karišić. ISBN 978-86-85345-00-5. 
  • Панајотис К. Христу (2007). "Манастир Хиландар". Књижевне новине. Belgrade: Projekat Rastko. 
  • Živojinović, M. (1998) Vlastelinstvo manastira Hilandara u srednjem veku. u: Subotić G. (ur.) Manastir Hilandar, Beograd: SANU - Galerija
  • Đurić, V.J. (1964) Fresques médiévales à Chilandar. in: Actes du XIIe Congrès international d'études byzantines, Ochride, 1961, Beograd, 68
  • Hostetter, W.T. (1998) In the heart of Hilandar: An interactive presentation of the frescoes in the main church of the Hilandar monastery of Mt. Athos. Belgrade, CD-ROM

External links[edit]