Holy Savior Church Prizren

Holy Savior Church Prizren

Holy Savior Church in Prizren is dedicated to the Assumption of God and was erected around 1330. Holy Savior Church is located at the south-western part of the former Serbian royal town of Prizren, the most beautiful and the Imperial town in Kosovo and Metohija. The Holy Savior Church in Prizren sits on the small plateau below the ancient Kaljaja Fortress, called the Podkaljaja, which dominates the whole area and provides outstanding panorama of Prizren. The Podkaljaja Quarter once used to be the Prizren part populated mostly with the Serbian and Aromanian population, but nowadays one can only see the pitiable ruins of destroyed, entirely demolished, burnt and deserted Serbian houses in this part of Prizren, the most beautiful and best known town in Kosovo and Metohia /some say/.

Nobleman Mladen Vladojevic and his family constructed the Church of the Holy Saviour Prizren and in 1348 granted it to the nearby Holy Archangels Monastery, the endowment of Tzar Dusan /king 1331—1346, tsar 1346—1355/, on the bank of Prizrenska Bistrica River. The foundation of the Church of the Holy Saviour Prizren is the inscribed cross with three-sided altar apse and narthex covered by eight-sided dome. From outside the Church of the Holy Savior in Prizren is richly decorated with ceramic ornaments and layers of stone and bricks, which has also been applied in construction of the Church of the Holy Virgin of Ljevish in Prizren.

The Church of the Holy Savior Prizren was heavily damaged and abandoned during the Turkish conquest and even in some occasions used as the stable, that damaged it seriously. Since the middle of the 18th century, Aromanians from Moskopoje took over care for the Holy Savior church Prizren and in 1836 started its reconstruction and enlargement. The Church of Holy Savior Prizren was supposed to be the trefoil basilica when finished, but the reconstruction was never completed, so nowadays the hall walls without ceiling sadly surround the earlier church. The new seven-sided altar apse has been built and the former tiny Medieval church became the part of the northern nave. The oldest frescoes of Church of the Holy Savior Prizren are painted in the altar part and date from around 1335. The painter belonged to the fresco-painting workshop that decorated also the Church of Saint Nicholas in Prizren, built at the same time by nobleman Dragoslav Tutic. Until 1348 local painters decorated the rest of the Holy Savior church Prizren in the Byzantine style. The frescoes depicting the Christ and the Holy Virgin Paraklesis painted in the narthex of the Saint Savior church Prizren make the final layer of fresco decoration.

In the 19th century the Church of the Holy Savior in Prizren was baldy damaged in fire when frescoes were destroyed and significantly changed its colors. Works on enlargement of the church started in the first half of the 19th century with the aim to make this church the three-nave basilica. The new altar seven-sided apse was constructed, and the original church became the part of the norther nave. However, this enlargement of the Holy Savior Church in Prizren was never completed, so today there are high walls without a roof around the original small church. The /inappropriate/ conservation works on the structures and frescoes of Church of Holy Savior Prizren were carried out from 1953 until 1963. Republic of Serbia proclaimed the Church of the Holy Savior and the other Churches in Prizren the cultural heritage of extraordinary importance.

In 2004 March, raids, attacks and the pogrom of the Albanian extremists set the Church of the Holy Savior Prizren aflame and heavily damaged its structure and frescoes. Since then the German KFOR guard the Church of the Holy Savior which is behind barbed wire…. The consequences of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and Metohija are most apparent in the cities where the remaining Serb population can be counted with the fingers. This is also true of the ancient city of (Emperor) Dušan, Prizren, once proud of its multi-ethnic life, bringing together, in addition to the Albanians, Turks, Serbs, Goranis and Croats.

At the end of April 2014, the reconstruction works of the plateau before the Church of Holy Saviour in Podkaljaja Quarter of Prizren have been successfully carried out. This action was initiated by the “Sveti Spas” Citizens’ Association for Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Kosovo and Metohija, and blessed by His Grace Bishop Teodosije of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo – Metohija Diocese, which would not have been possible without huge efforts and assistance of the Prizren Parish Slobodan Đorić, the Sveti Spas Association, led by Mr Zlatko Mavric, and the Drustvo prijatelja manastira Sveti arhangeli kod Prizrena – Friends of the Holy Archangels Monastery in Prizren, the Danish Refugee Council, which provided the largest funds, and the Institute for preservation and protection of monuments of culture of Kosovo and Metohija. Thirteen years after the Kosovo pogrom in 2004, when the Holy Savior Church in Prizren was set aflame and devastated, the Drustvo prijatelja manastira Sveti arhangeli kod Prizrena – Friends of the Holy Archangels Monastery in Prizren, together with the Church Municipality of Prizren, completed the cross and posted it on this Serbian shrine from the 14th century.

Church of Holy Sunday – Crkva Svete nedelje Prizren

The Church of the Holy Sunday Prizren – dedicated to the Entrance of the Holy Virgin into the church is endowment of the young king Marko Mrnjavcevic from 1371. Remains of the Church of the Holy Sunday – Crkva Svete Nedelje are located beneath the Kaljaja fortress of Prizren, some 200 meters southeast of the Holy Savior Church. Remains of the Holy Virgin Church in Prizren were discovered in 1966 below the ruined older church of the Holy Sunday.

Expert examination and conservation of foundations of the Holy Virgin Church in Prizren testify that the church had been built along the creations of then already constructed old churches in Prizren built by noblemen – the Church of the Holy Savior, endowment of Mladen Vidojevic and the Church of Saint Nicholas which was erected in 1332 by Nikola Dragoslav Tutic and his wife Bela. The Church of the Holy Virgin features basis of the entirely inscribed cross, and distinguishes itself from the Church of the Holy Savior and the Church of Saint Nicholas by narthex and pilasters in the space beneath the dome which was laid on them, but without consoles likewise in those two churches. Remains of preserved calotte of the dome which was 3 meter in radius were discovered in the ruins of the Holy Virgin Church, on which indicate remains of pilasters situated within a square of 3 meters long sides.

Facades of the Church of the Holy Virgin in Prizren were decorated with rows of sculpture ornaments and alternate layers of ashlar stone and bricks.  As the upper parts of the church were destroyed, it is unknown if the church had arch-voults cast out on consoles. The dome was eight-sided from the outside with semicircular colonnettes on angles, on which testify discovered bricks of that shape. There were excavated some ten square meters of fragments of frescoes dating from the 14th century. However, this church is far more important for the Serbian medieval historiography by the excavated inscriptions.

Of the special significance are the inscription of the young king Marko Kraljevic – Marko fro the Serbian epic songs, situated on the entrance of the narthex and the inscription of Marina Struja which is set on the gravestone in the church floor. Both inscriptions date from 1371. On the portal lintel of 149 cm whose parts were laid down in the narthex as benches, there is well preserved virtuously carved inscription confirming that the church of “our the Most Holy Virgin was built and painted by donation of young king Marko in 1371”, i.e. before the Maritza Battle in which the father of the young king, Vukasin was killed. The inscription is also one of the most beautiful examples of the Serbian medieval epigraphy. It states existence of institution of co-ruler or the young king during the lifetime of the king Vukasin, and not only the successor of the throne, so it is a precious historical document by its language and epigraph features. It was by the later excavations of the narthex attested that the inscription of the young king Marko certainly belonged to this church. By this discovery the suspicion was irrefutably eliminated whether this inscription had been brought here in later centuries to be preserved from destruction considering the size of the lintel including inscription and size of the preserved parts of the entrance into the church that were 17 cm narrower. However, foundations discovered in excavations of the narthex portal are of the same size with the preserved steps of the lintel and doorstep that clearly indicate that the inscription was positioned right there in the lintel of the port, and not inside the church.

Not less significant is the inscription on the gravestone of nun Marina, by its graphic features and by the fact that here was first time mentioned one beautiful old female folk and Slavic name of Struja. Nicely carved thin letters are harmoniously inscribed in five rows, stating that “On 2nd May 1371 died Godlike handmaid Marina, national name Struja, wife of unknown nobleman Manko” ending with poetic words – “You who read this, call the Memory Eternal for me”.

During the March pogrom against the Serbs in 2004, the church of the Holy Sunday – the Holy Virgin was burnt and severely damaged, unfortunately likewise the Church of the Holy Virgin of Ljevish and other Prizren churches. Then in the huge fire frescoes were demolished, and the entrance door was destroyed, and the lead roof was removed. Comprehensive works were carried out on the church of the Holy Sunday in the next years in order to regain its original conditions that today again adorn the Podkaljaja part of Prizren, predominantly /previously/ settled by Serbs.

 

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