Pustinja Monastery

Pustinja Monastery

Pustinja Monastery /desert/ is founded in the 13th century during the reign of the Serbian King Dragutin and is dedicated to the Virgin Entrance to the Temple. Besides the legend, the present day church of Pustinja Monastery lies on the ruins of the earlier Medieval monastery dating from the 11th century, because Turks allowed construction of churches only on the places in Serbia where shrines already existed before their arrival or if there were written records about them. Pustinja Monastery got its name after monks who lived in seclusion and most probably built it during their ascetic lifes in the nearby caves, far away from the other inhabitants deep in the inaccessible picturesque Jablanica River Canyon, properly hidden by sides of mountain from any spot. The first written documents about the Monastery of Pustinja /desert/ date from 1572. The Pustinja Monastery is somehow hidden from view to anyone driving in Serbia’s western mountains and barely signposted, it is as close to the definition of “sanctuary” as you can find. Visitors get there climbing several hundred meters down the stony dirt track until they reach a flat area by the stream, surrounded by a group of structures and enter the large wooden gate in order to reach the beautiful church, in the pristine silence and seclusion.

The church of Pustinja Monastery has the appearance of one nave harmonic structure with altar and choir on the northern and the southern sides. Narthex with the 16 meters high two-floor belfry was added to the church in 1848. Pustinja Monastery has another small entrance on the northern side beside the western one, which is rarity in construction of Orthodox shrines. Above the central part of the Pustinja Monastery Church sits the eight-sided dome. The Church of Pustinja Monastery is built of lime stone in the Raska style of architecture. The beautifully built iconostasis of Pustinja Monastery certifies that patron took Orthodox Armenians to have the monastery built. Patron of Pustinja Monastery is depicted with his endowment as a present to the Holy Virgin. The very well preserved frescoes of Pustinja Monastery are painted in 1622 presenting the historical scenes : Great feasts, The Christ Sacrifice, portraits of saints. Fresco of Saint John the Baptist with wings is the most significant among frescoes and is by its mildness, calmness and beauty compared to the famous fresco of The White Angel of Mileseva Monastery. The nuns take care and operate the life of Pustinja Monastery located in secluded and gorgeous settings of the mountains in vicinity of the town of Valjevo.

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