Moraca River – Moraca Monastery

Morača River is one of most beautiful river canyon in Montenegro which separates Moracke Planine range from Sinjajevina Mountain range. Moraca River originates in northern Montenegro, under Rzača mountain, at the height of 975 meters. In the Kolašin region, the Morača’s tributaries are the Koštanica, Sjevernica, Trnovačka Rijeka /River/, Javorski Potok /Brook/, and the Slatina, on the Mrtvica, Ibrištica, Ratnja, and the Slatina, on the left, and the Mrtvica, Ibrištica, Ratnja and the Požanjski Potok on the right. Apart from the Morača’s Platije Canyon, its right-hand tributary the Mrtvica also flows, for the most part of its length, trough a lesser known high canyon of breathtaking beauty. The region of the Morača River Canyon features the steep slopes of the terrain intersected with deep gorges and canyons. Morača River generally flows southwards some 113 km before emptying into Skadar Lake. In its northern part, the Morača River is a fast mountainous river, and has cut a beautiful canyon north of Podgorica. After merging with its largest tributary, Zeta River, just north of Podgorica, the Morača River enters the Zeta plain and flows through this flat area of Montenegro until it empties into the Skadar Lake. The Morača River is the biggest tributary of Skadarsko Lake.

Morača Monastery is a Serbian Orthodox monastery, located in the northern part of the Morača River Canyon in central Montenegro. Morača Monastery is one of the most beautiful Orthodox Medieval monuments in Montenegro, whose church is over 24 meters long and about 20 meters high. Moraca Monastery was founded in 1252 by Prince Stefan Nemanjic, son of Vukan Nemanjić, king of Medieval Zeta, the grandson of Stefan Nemanja. This is written above the western portal entrance with fresco of the Holy Virgin holding the Christ and two angels, painted around 1260. The Moraca Monastery has been built on the important trading road, leading from the Adriatic coast, along Trebinje, Grahovo, Kolasin on the left bank of the Tara River at that time, Brskovo, Sjenica, Nis to Sofia and Constantinople. Moraca Monastery complex consists of an assembly church, devoted to the Assumption of Mary, a small church, devoted to Saint Nicholas, and a lodgings for travelers. The main door of Moraca Monastery has a high wall which has two entrances. The assembly church is a big one-nave structure, with the dome and large narthex, in the style of Raška architecture which is quite different from the maritime churches built at that time. The main portal of Moraca Monastery is built in the Romanesque style.

Beside the architecture, paintings of Morača Monastery are of special importance. There is a painting preserved from the 13th century with 11 compositions from the life of the Saint prophet Elijah, who plays an important role in the Greek-Orthodox church. According to the tradition and Biblical texts, Elijah gave his spirit and power to John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. Saint prophet Ilijah is known in many Slavic countries as the supreme Slavic god of storms, thunder and lightning bolts – Elijah the Thunderer (Ilija Gromovnik), who drives the heavens in a chariot and administers rain and snow. The fresco of Saint Prophet Elijah whom approaches the black raven, holding a piece of bread, distinguishes itself among frescoes of the Moraca Monastery. This painting is in much better condition than all the others of Moraca Monastery dating from the 16th century. Other frescoes of Moraca Monastery were ruined in the first part of the 16th century when the Ottomans invaded the monastery and devastated it. They also took away the lead roof.

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