Manasija Monastery – a jewel of medieval Serbian architecture

March 8, 2021

One of the most important monasteries in Serbia – Manasija monastery lies near Despotovac – in central Serbia, in a peaceful and quiet place, in the picturesque Resava gorge, with Pastorak and Maćija peaks towering above it. With its magnificent temple and strong fortification it has attracted attention of travel writers for centuries. The foundation of the Despot Stefan Lazarević is one the very best realisations of Serbian architecture of the late middle ages. The fortification is a very special particularity of the monastery of Resava. It has been conceived according to all the rules of medieval fortification and built to defend the monastery community.

The Resava fortification has eleven towers and a specially defended area on the eastern side, with the twelvth tower. The towers have identical defense and architectural features – all have the ground level, six floors and a promenade with battlements. They are linked by the defensive walls – ramparts, with merlon cranelation. The connection between the towers and the ramparts is made through special passages on the 4th floor of each tower, allowing the defenders to easily move around and successfully defend the monastery. Only the donjon was built differently.

The construction of the Resava monastery lasted more than ten years. Inside the monastic yard, surrounded by high fortifications and towers, was built the church of the Holy Trinity, the monumental refectory, the buildings with the cells of the monks, and maybe even the residence of the Despot. The chroniclers wrote that Resava was built in 1418 and then, “they settled down in the new quarters of Resava, the “Holy Trinity”.

The Manasija paintings are not fully preserved. The inscriptions about the time of their creation are also missing. It seems probable that it was already completed in 1418. That year, according to the writings of an unknown chronicler, on the Holy Trinity Day, Despot Stefan called the people to convene at his foundation on the occasion of its consecration. Commenced a year or two earlier, the Resava paintings had certainly been made immediately before the day of this celebration. More about the Manasija Monastery, its location, how to get there and about visiting hours you can see on their official website.