Djurdjevi Stupovi Saint George Monastery Berane
Berane Municipality is situated on the north-east of Montenegro, surrounded by high mountains with forests – Bjelasica, Mokra, Smiljevica and Trjak. Gentle pastures and old mountain villages invite visitors to stay. Lim River abounds with speed water rapids and makes an ideal place for rafting, water sports and kayaking, divides the town of Berane into two parts, and opens it towards the valleys of Andrijevica and Bijelo Polje. Besides the Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery, there are numerous sites of the Berane Municipality, among which the most significant are the Sudikova Monastery from the 12th-13th century, the Petnjica Mosque from the 16th century with the wooden minaret and the Monument of liberty in Jasikovac village.
The Great zhupan Stefan Prvoslav, lord of the Medieval Budimlje area, son of the great zhupan – duke Tihomir and cousin of Stephan Nemanya built his endowment in 1213 on the left bank of the Lim River, beneath the Rastovac point on the plateau Stupovi, where the icy cold water springs. His grave is located within the church, in the right side of the nave, above which sits the inscription “Žhupan Prvoslav, son of the great zhupan Tihomir, cousin of the Saint Simeon Nemaya and the endouwer of this place”.
The church of the Saint George – Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery on Lim River i Berane is one nave structure with the main entrance on the western side and the semi circular apse on the eastern side. The church and the first narthex have been built in the first half of the 13th century, but the exact time of construction remains unknown. There are three construction phases visible in the monastic complex of the Djurdjevi Stupovi in Berane. Besides some plaques with Latin inscriptions that are walled in the church, there are three earlier stone plaques built in the belfry. That belfry does not date from the period of construction of the church, but much later, since walled plaques are from the 13th century and were previously used for the grave stones. Outer facades of the Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery are built of stone squares arranged in horizontal alternate rows that come of the darker stones and the brighter thick stones, providing the polychromic appearance. The architecture of the Church of the Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery belongs to the style which was developed in the Costal area of Adriatic until that historic period in the 11th and the 12th centuries. The type of basilica is evidenced by the inner niches in the side wallks and the supporting faces of the semicircular vault, that start from the opposite pilasters, between those niches. This style of basilica is also attested by the way the dome is elevated between the two supporting arches, without the cubical socle above the roof. The narthex was added to the original church, connected with two towers. This was performed in construction of the Church of Saint Nicholas in Toplica and the Djurdjevi Stupovi in Ras and the Saint Peter’s Church on Lim river, and the outer narthex was added later. The fresco painter of the Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery was a talented master, but the frescoes were severely damaged in numerous destruction, especially from the artillery point in Jasikovac. It is assumed that the frescoes of the Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery on Lim river were completed during the time of Tsar Dusan, while those in the narthex were painted by Strahinja Budimljanin.
In 1219 Saint Sava established the Budimlje Diocese in Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery, thanks to which role there was no Islamisation of population until the middle of the 17th century. The old Serbian literacy was flourishing in the area, which is documented from the 12th till the 17th centuries. Literacy, fresco painting and building of monasteries which was enhanced during the reign of Saint Sava and the zhupan Prvoslav, lasted through the next centuries. The tragic circumstances of the First Migration, and especially of the Second Migration of Serbs, which ended with suppression of the Pec Patriarchate in 1766 were not mitigated during decades. After the metropolitan Pajsije was brutally executed by the Turks, the Budimlje Diocese was dissolved. The Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery on Lim was set aflame by the Turks several times – in 1738, 1825, 1862 and 1875. When the Turks intended to destroy it again in 1889, the local population stood against them determined either to defend it or to be burnt within. Since 2001 the Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery on Lime River is the sea of the Budimlje-Niksic Diocese and the church is dedicated to great-martyr Saint George.