Žiča Monastery

Žiča Monastery
Location within Serbia
Monastery information
Full name Манастир - Жича
Order Serbian Orthodox
Established 1207-1217
Dedicated to Christ the Pantocrator
Diocese Eparchy of Žiča
Founder(s) Stefan Prvovenčani
Important associated figures Stefan Milutin
Location Trg Jovana Sarića 1, Kraljevo, Serbia
Coordinates 43°41′46.68″N 20°38′44.66″E / 43.6963000°N 20.6457389°E / 43.6963000; 20.6457389
Public access Yes
Other information Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance
(Cultural Heritage of Serbia)
Website Official website (in English)

Žiča (Serbian Cyrillic: Жича, pronounced [ʒîtʃa] or [ʒîːtʃa][1]) is an early 13th-century Serb Orthodox monastery near Kraljevo, Serbia. The monastery, together with the Church of the Holy Dormition, was built by the first King of Serbia, Stefan the First-Crowned and the first Head of the Serbian Church, Saint Sava.

Žiča was the seat of the Archbishop (1219–1253), and by tradition the coronational church of the Serbian kings, although a king could be crowned in any Serbian church, he was never considered a true king until he was anointed in Žiča. Žiča was declared a Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and it is protected by Serbia.[2] In 2008, Žiča celebrated 800 years of existence.


Founding of Serbian Church

Žiča Monastery entrance

The Serbs were initially under the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Ohrid, under the tutelage of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Rastko Nemanjić, the son of Stefan Nemanja, ruled as Grand Prince of Hum 1190-1192,[3] previously held by Grand Prince Miroslav.[4] In the autumn of 1192 (or shortly thereafter)[5]

Rastko joined Russian monks and traveled to Mount Athos where he took monastic vows and spent several years. In 1195, his father joined him, and together they founded the Chilandar, as the base of Serbian religion.[6] Rastko's father died in Hilandar on 13 February 1199; he was later canonised, as Saint Simeon.[6] Rastko built a church and cell at Karyes, where he stayed for some years, becoming a Hieromonk, then an Archimandrite in 1201. He writes the Karyes Typicon during his stay there.[6]

He returned to Serbia in 1207, taking the remains of his father with him, which he relocates to the Studenica monastery, after reconciling Stefan II with Vukan, who had earlier been in a succession feud. Stefan II asked him to remain in Serbia with his clerics. He founded several churches and monasteries, including the Žiča monastery.[6]


The monastery was founded by King Stefan Prvovenčani and Saint Sava,[6] in the Rascian architectural style, between 1208 and 1230, with the help of Greek masters.[7]


Church of the Holy Dormition in the monastery
Žiča in 1889

In 1219, the Serbian Church gains autocephaly, by Emperor Theodore I Laskaris and Patriarch Manuel I of Constantinople, and Archimandrite Sava becomes the first Serbian Archbishop.[8] The monastery acts as the seat of the Archbishop of all Serbian lands. Saint Sava crowning his older brother Stefan Prvovenčani as "King of All Serbia" in the Žiča monastery.[8] In 1221, a synod was held in the Monastery of Žiča, condemning Bogomilism.[7]

When Serbia was invaded by Hungary, Saint Sava sent Arsenije I Sremac to find a safer place in the south to establish a new episcopal See. In 1253 the see was transferred to the Archbishopric of Peć (future Patriarchate) by Arsenije.[9] The Serbian primates had since moved between the two.[10]

In 1289-90, the chief treasures of the ruined monastery, including the remains of Saint Jevstatije I, were transferred to Peć.[11]

In 1219, Žiča became the first seat of the Serbian Archbishopic. The church, dedicated to the Ascension of Our Lord, displays the features of the Raska school. The ground plan is shaped as a spacious nave with a large apse at its eastern end. The central space is domed. The church was built of stone and brick. Architecturally, the Byzantine spirit prevails. There are three layers of painting, each being a separate entity. The earliest frescoes were painted immediately after the first archbishop Sava's return from Nicaea (1219), but only in the choir portions of these have been preserved. Sometime between 1276-92 the Cumans burned the monastery, and King Stefan Milutin renovated it in 1292-1309, during the office of Jevstatije II.[9] Patriarch Nikon joined Despot Đurađ Branković when the capital was moved to Smederevo, following Turkish-Hungarian wars in the territory of Serbia in the 1430s.[10]

Renovation was carried out during the time of Archbishops Jevstatije II (1292-1309), and Nikodim (1317-37), when the refectory was adorned with frescoes, the church covered with a leaden roof, and a tower erected. The new frescoes were painted during the reign of King Milutin, but they have since suffered serious damage. Fragments have survived to the present day on the east wall of the passage beneath the tower (composition of King Stefan and his son Radoslav), in the narthex, nave and side-chapels.[12]


Frescoes depicting Pantocrator.[13][14]

See also


  1. Pravopisna komisija, ed. (1960). "Žiča". Pravopis srpskohrvatskoga književnog jezika (Fototipsko izdanje 1988 ed.). Novi Sad, Zagreb: Matica srpska, Matica hrvatska. p. 288.
  2. "Споменици културе у Србији". Spomenicikulture.mi.sanu.ac.rs. 1947-10-25. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
  3. The Late Medieval Balkans, pp. 19–20.
  4. The Late Medieval Balkans, p. 52
  5. A. P. Vlasto. "The Entry of the Slavs Into Christendom: An Introduction to the Medieval ...". Books.google.com. p. 218. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Đuro Šurmin. "Povjest književnosti hrvatske i srpske". Books.google.com. p. 229. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
  7. 1 2 A. P. Vlasto. "The Entry of the Slavs Into Christendom: An Introduction to the Medieval ...". Books.google.com. p. 222. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
  8. 1 2 Silvio Ferrari, W. Cole Durham, Elizabeth A. Sewell, Law and religion in post-communist Europe, 2003, p. 295; ISBN 978-90-429-1262-5
  9. 1 2
  10. 1 2 Stevan K. Pavlowitch. "Serbia: The History Behind the Name". Books.google.com. p. 11. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
  11. Radivoje Ljubinković (2009-05-20). "The Church of the Apostles in the Patriarchate of Peć". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
  12. "Monasteries and churches - Serbia Visit - Stema Guide". Serbia Visit. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
  13. "Singers in Late Byzantine and Slavonic Painting: - Neil K. Moran - Google Boeken". Books.google.com. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  14. "The Kariya Djami - Paul A. Underwood - Google Boeken". Books.google.com. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  15. (In Greek) Stephanos Pappas, Formation and Evolution of Communities, Municipalities and the Prefecture of Ioannina, 2004. Original title: Στέφανος Παππάς, Σύσταση και Διοικητική Εξέλιξη των Κοινοτήτων, των Δήμων & του Νομού Ιωαννίνων, λήμμα Δήμος Ζίτσας. Έκδοση ΤΕΔΚ Νομού Ιωαννίνων, 2004; ISBN 960-88395-0-5


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