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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
Prior Archimandrite Elder Methodius
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

Hilandar Monastery (Greek: Μονή Χιλανδαρίου, Serbian: Манастир Хиландар/Manastir Hilandar, pronounced [xilǎndaːr]) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery on Mount Athos in Greece. It was founded in 1198 by the first Serbian Archbishop Saint Sava and his father, Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja, who later became a monk there. It was the center of Serbian religious and secular culture,[1] and "the first Serbian university",[2] The Mother of God through her Icon of Three Hands (Trojeručica), is considered the abbess.[3]


The etymological meaning of the name "Hilandar" is possibly derived from chelandion, a type of Byzantine transport ship, whose skipper was called a "helandaris".[4]


Middle Ages[edit]

Hilandar is first mentioned in a Greek manuscript of 1015 as being "completely abandoned and empty", for which reason it was given to the monastery of Kastamonitou. It was certainly established a good hundred years earlier: a certain George Chelandarios (Boatman), mentioned among important Athonites in 980, was probably the founder of the monastery, which was subsequently called after him. The monastery's name appears thus in Greek acts of the 11th and 12th centuries, but later, in the first Serbian sources, it takes the form of Hilandar (D. Anastasijevich). At that time the monastery was already dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple (November 21). The last appearance of the form Chelandar is in a Protaton act of 1169, the signatories of which included abbot Gerasimus of Chelandar. After this, the monastery declined and was abandoned, like many other small monasteries and kellia at Milees, as this part of Athos was called in the Middle Ages. Up until that time, the area had been prey to constant attacks by pirates and brigands of various kinds. The ancient cell of Helandaris was donated by Emperor Alexios III Angelos (1195–1203) "to the Serbs as an eternal gift..." and Stefan Nemanja established and endowed the monastery in 1198 (before 13 February 1199).[4] Hilandar became one of the most important cultural and religious centres of the Serbian people.[5]

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

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).[6][7] By the end of the 15h century according to the Russian pilgrim Isaiah, the monastery was Serb.[8]

Ottoman and modern period[edit]

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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]


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. ^ Hilandar – The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity
  4. ^ a b Tibor Zivkovic - Charters of the Serbian rulers related to Kosovo and Metochia. p. 15
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ 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). 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ "Хилендарски манастир" (in Bulgarian). Православието. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  11. ^ 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]