WHS: Medieval Monuments in Kosovo

Whether you believe that today’s World Heritage Site visits are in Serbia’s province of Kosovo, or in the country of Kosovo — either way, you’ll cover just about the whole thing skittering between the various properties collected as the

Medieval Monuments in Kosovo

Gračanica Monastery, Kosovo

 

The four edifices of the site reflect the high points of the Byzantine-Romanesque ecclesiastical culture, with its distinct style of wall painting, which developed in the Balkans between the 13th and 17th centuries. The Dečani Monastery was built in the mid-14th century for the Serbian king Stefan Dečanski and is also his mausoleum. The Patriarchate of Peć Monastery is a group of four domed churches featuring series of wall paintings. The 13th-century frescoes of the Church of Holy Apostles are painted in a unique, monumental style. Early 14th-century frescoes in the church of the Holy Virgin of Ljevisa represent the appearance of the new so-called Palaiologian Renaissance style, combining the influences of the eastern Orthodox Byzantine and the Western Romanesque traditions. The style played a decisive role in subsequent Balkan art.

The lead picture there is the Gračanica Monastery which is just a few kilometers from Pristina the capital of Kosovo so likely the easiest for you to visit —

— and also probably the best for giving you a sense of the original community: this is a majority Serb area and public Mass is still celebrated in what is probably the oldest originally decorated church we’ve ever seen a Mass in:

Gračanica Monastery Frescoes, Kosovo

So that one, definitely a visit. Can’t say the same for the next on our list though…

Next, we swung down through southwest Kosovo to Prizren and the Church of the Virgin of Leviša:

Church of the Virgin of Leviša, Kosovo

This site was damaged in anti-Serb riots and hasn’t been restored to public access yet, it just looks like a fairly unremarkable medieval church with a watchman sitting outside and crammed into the narrow streets so that you can’t get any particularly stunning photos of it either.

So, unless you feel like seeing if you have better luck with the watchman than we had, that one you can leave for us inveterate site tickers.

We had even worse luck than that at the Decani Monastery, where apparently there was some kind of a security thing on and the KOFOR guards weren’t letting anyone travel that way. Figured that we’d just move along from whatever was up there to the last of the four properties, the Patriarchate of Pec:

Patriarchate of Peć Monastery, Kosovo

This monastery is also guarded by KOFOR, so you need to park a ways away and register with your passport as a visitor before being let in, but this one we’d also rank as definitely worth going out of your way for —

— the outside is beautiful and all in the bucolic setting, but the frescoes inside are downright breathtaking:

Patriarchate of Peć Monastery Frescoes, Kosovo

So these are a definitely unusual World Heritage experience, not too many that have actual multinational armed forces guarding them from the host population …

… pretty sure these are the only ones, actually …

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p dir=”ltr”>… so if you have a chance to visit Kosovo, we definitely recommend you visit them while you can!

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Alex Curylo

Alex

I go places.

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