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Patriarchate of Peć (monastery)

Coordinates: 42°39′40″N 20°15′58″E / 42.661°N 20.266°E / 42.661; 20.266
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Patriarchate of Peć Monastery
Манастир Пећка патријаршија (Serbian)
Manastir Pećka patrijaršija (Serbian)
Patrikana e Pejës (Albanian)
The Church complex of the Monastery of Peć
Monastery information
DenominationEastern Orthodox
Established13th century
DioceseEparchy of Raška and Prizren (just territorially, since monastery is under direct patriarchal (stavropegial) jurisdiction)
Controlled churches
  • Church of the Apostles
  • Church of St. Demetrius
  • Church of the Virgin Hodegetria
  • Church of St. Nicholas
Founder(s)Archbishop Sava, Archbishop Arsenije I
Important associated figuresArchbishops Sava, Arsenije I, Nikodim I, Danilo II
LocationNear Peja (Serbian: Peć)
Coordinates42°39′40″N 20°15′58″E / 42.661°N 20.266°E / 42.661; 20.266
Public accessYes
Criteriaii, iii, iv
Designated2004 (28th session), modified 2006
Part ofMedieval Monuments in Kosovo
Reference no.724-002bis
RegionEurope and North America
Official nameManastir Pećka patrijaršija
TypeMonument of Culture of Exceptional Importance
Designated25 October 1947
Reference no.SК 1370

The Patriarchate of Peć Monastery (Serbian: Манастир Пећка патријаршија, romanizedManastir Pećka patrijaršija, pronounced [pɛ̂ːt͡ɕkaː patrijǎ(ː)rʃija]; Albanian: Patrikana e Pejës) or the Patriarchal Monastery of Peć, is a medieval Serbian Orthodox monastery located near the city of Peja (Serbian: Peć), Kosovo. Built in the 13th century, it became the residence of Serbian Archbishops. It was expanded during the 14th century, and in 1346, when the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć was created, the Monastery became the seat of Serbian Patriarchs. The monastery complex consists of several churches, and during medieval and early modern times it was also used as mausoleum of Serbian archbishops and patriarchs. Since 2006, it is part of the "Medieval Monuments in Kosovo", a combined World Heritage Site along with three other monuments of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The monastery is ecclesiastically administered by the Eparchy of Raška and Prizren, but it has special (stavropegial) status, since it is under direct jurisdiction of the Serbian Patriarch whose title includes Archbishop of Peć. The monastery church is unique in Serbian medieval architecture, with three churches connected as one whole,[1] with a total of four churches.[2]


The monastery complex is located near Peja, in the Metohija region, near the border with Montenegro.[1] It is situated by the Lumbardhi i Pejës, at the entrance of the Rugova Canyon.[3] A morus nigra tree, 750 years old, is preserved in the monastery yard, called Šam-dud (sr), planted by Archbishop Sava II between 1263 and 1272.[4]


Saint Sava, one of the founders, fresco from the Church of the Holy Apostles

The monastery is located at the edges of an old Roman and Byzantine Siperant.[1] The monastery complex, consisting of four churches,[2] of which three churches connected as one whole,[1] was built in the first third of the 13th century, 1321–24, and 1330–37.[1] It is presumed that the site became a metochion (land owned and governed by a monastery) of the Žiča monastery, the seat of the Serbian Archbishopric at that time, while Archbishop Sava (d. 1235) was still alive.[3] In the first third of the 13th century, Archbishop Arsenije I (s. 1233–63) had the Church of the Holy Apostles built on the north side.[5] That church was decorated on Arsenije's order in ca. 1250[3] or ca. 1260.[5] In 1253,[6] Arsenije I moved the Serbian Church seat from Žiča to Peć amid foreign invasion,[7][8][9] to a more secure location, closer to the centre of the country.[3] The Serbian Church seat was then shortly returned to Žiča in 1285, before being moved to Peja in 1291, again amid foreign invasion.[10][11] Archbishop Nikodim I (s. 1321–24) built the Church of St. Demetrius on the north side of the Church of the Holy Apostles, while his successor, Archbishop Danilo II (s. 1324–37) built the Church of the Holy Mother of God Hodegetria and the Church of St. Nicholas on the south side.[5] In front of the three main churches, he then raised a monumental narthex.[5] In the time of Archbishop Joanikije II, around 1345, the hitherto undecorated Church of St. Demetrius was decorated with frescoes. Serbian Emperor Stefan Dušan (r. 1331–1355) raised the Serbian Archbishopric to the patriarchal status in 1346, thus creating the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć.[12]

A fresco in Narthex depicting the Nemanjić tree.

During the 14th century, small modifications were made to Church of the Holy Apostles, so some parts were decorated later. From the 13th to the 15th century, and in the 17th century, the Serbian Archbishops and Serbian Patriarchs were buried in the churches of the Patriarchate. In 1459–63, after the death of Arsenije II, the patriarchate became vacant upon abolishment by the Ottoman Empire but was restored in 1557 during the reign of sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.[13] The re-establishment was done under the advice of grand vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, while some of Bulgarian eparchies were also placed under its jurisdiction.[14] Georgije Mitrofanović (1550–1630) painted new frescoes in the Church of St. Demetrius in 1619–20.[5] In 1673–74 painter Radul painted the Church of St. Nicholas.[5] In the early 18th century, and especially during and after the Austro-Russian–Turkish War (1735–1739), the patriarchate became the target of the Phanariotes and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, whose goal was to place the eparchies of the Serbian Patriarchate under its own jurisdiction. In 1737 the first Greek head of the Serbian Patriarchate was appointed after the intervention of Alexandros Mavrocordatos, who labeled the Serb leadership "untrustworthy". In the following years the Phanariotes embarked on policy initiatives that led to the exclusion of Serbs in the succession of the patriarchate, which was eventually abolished in September 1766.[15][16]

Period of Ottoman rule in the region ended in 1912.[17] At the beginning of the First Balkan War (1912–1913), army of the Kingdom of Montenegro entered Peja ((Serbian: Peć). By the Treaty of London (1913) the region of Peja was officially awarded to Montenegro and the Monastery of Peć again became an episcopal seat.[18] Bishop Gavrilo Dožić of Peć (future Serbian Patriarch) initiated works on monastery complex, but those efforts were halted due to the breakout of the First World War (1914) and subsequent Austro-Hungarian occupation of Montenegro, including Peja. War ended in 1918, and Montenegro joined Kingdom of Serbia and South Slavic provinces of former Austria-Hungary to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians. In 1920, structural unity of Serbian Orthodox Church was restored, and Serbian Patriarchate was renewed, with traditional primatial seat in the Patriarchal Monastery of Peć.[19] Since then, all Serbian Patriarchs were enthroned in the Monastery.[20] Major reconstruction works in the Monastery were undertaken during 1931 and 1932.[21]

Arsenije Sremac, one of the founders, fresco from the Church of the Holy Apostles

In 1947, the Patriarchate of Peć was added to Serbia's "Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance" list,[5] and on 13 July 2006 it was placed on UNESCO's World Heritage List as an extension of the Visoki Dečani site which was overall placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.[22]

Restoration of the complex began in June 2006 and was completed in November 2006. The main aim was to protect the complex from the weather, as well as to repair the inner walls and exterior appearance. Two previously unknown frescoes were uncovered on the north facade of the Church of St. Demetrios, of a Serbian queen and nobleman.[23] In 2008, the church facades were painted red, as Žiča, which led to some reactions. The sites were protected by the Kosovo Force until 2013, when the Kosovo Police took over responsibility.[clarification needed][24]


Serbian Orthodox archbishops and patriarchs were ktetors of the monastery, and these were buried in its churches. The monastery is the greatest mausoleum of Serbian religious dignitaries.[6] The monastery holds the relics of Serbian church leaders (most of whom are saints) Arsenije (s. 1233–63), Sava II (s. 1263–71), Jevstatije I (s. 1279–86), Nikodim I (s. 1316–24), Danilo II (s. 1324–37), Joanikije II (s. 1338–54), Jefrem (s. 1375–79; 1389–92), Spiridon (s. 1380–89) and Maksim I (s. 1655–74).



Church Image Notes
Church of the Holy Apostles
(Crkva sv. Apostola, also called Church of the Holy Saviour)
Built in the first third of the 13th century.
Church of St. Demetrius
(Crkva sv. Dimitrija)
Built by 1324
Church of the Holy Mother of God Hodegetria
(Crkva Bogorodice Odigitrije)
Built by 1337
Church of St. Nicholas
(Crkva sv. Nikole)
Built by 1337. A small modest church built at the side of the Hodegetria Church.

The three main churches with domes (Holy Apostles, St. Demetrius and Hodegetria) are connected with each other, linked by a joint monumental narthex. A smaller church, without a dome, is by the side of the Hodegetria Church.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Krstić 2003, p. 22.
  2. ^ a b Janićijević 1998, p. 524.
  3. ^ a b c d Stefanović 2001.
  4. ^ "Шам-дуд чува Пећку патријаршију 750 година". politika.rs.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Манастир Пећка патријаршија.
  6. ^ a b Ерић 2006, p. 212.
  7. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 50.
  8. ^ Vásáry 2005, p. 100.
  9. ^ Коматина 2016, p. 297, 407.
  10. ^ McAllester 2001, p. 52.
  11. ^ Коматина 2016, p. 368, 407.
  12. ^ Fotić 2008, p. 519.
  13. ^ Fotić 2008, p. 519-520.
  14. ^ Kia 2011, p. 117.
  15. ^ Frazee 1969, p. 6-7.
  16. ^ Fotić 2008, p. 520.
  17. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 245-246.
  18. ^ Đorđević & Pejić 1999, p. 18, 21.
  19. ^ Petković 1982, p. 8.
  20. ^ Warrander & Knaus 2010, p. 161.
  21. ^ Petković 1982, p. 8, 16, 31.
  22. ^ UNESCO (2006). "List of World Heritage in Danger". Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  23. ^ "Work on Restoration of Pec Patriarchate Draws to a Close". KIM Info Newsletter. November 14, 2006. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
  24. ^ "Srpske svetinje na KiM strahuju od čuvara". novosti.rs.


External links[edit]