Marko’s Monastery Susica

The Marko’s Monastery with the church dedicated to Saint Demetrius is situated at the edge of the Sušica village, on the left bank of the Markova Reka River /Marko’s River/, on the Kitka Mountains, some 20 kilometers south of Skopje. Marko’s Monastery of Saint Demetrius was founded in 1345 by the Serbian King Vukashin Mrnjavcevic and completed in 1366 by his son King Marko who donated the frescoes painted between 1366 and 1371 and after whose cult the Monastery got its name. On the khtetorship testify fresco depictions of kings Vukasin and Marko painted in the outer porch by the southern entrance to the church, king Marko on the left side, and king Vukasin on the right, while Saint Demetrius is depicted in the middle.

The architecture of the Saint Demetrius church of the Marko’s Monastery has been built of layers of bricks and stone, in the basis of single inscribed cross with a central dome and a blind dome in the narthex. It has the original iconstasis completed of stone pillars. Interior of the Saint Demetrios church of the Marko Monastery is decorated with eight-sided stone columns. The elegant exo-narthex (open porch) of the Marko’s Monastery was added in 1830 by Hamzi Pasha, who as the Turkish aristocrat generously donated the Christian monastery throughout the 19th century, which was quite surprising. Marko’s Monastery of Saint Demetrius is the burial church of the Serbian ruling Mrnjavcevic Family and belongs to the most important Medieval spiritual centers of original Stara Serbia – Old Serbia in the present North Macedonia.

The well preserved frescoes of the monastery of Saint Demetrius – Marko’s Monastery have been painted by several artists of different skills, probably by painters from Ohrid, under patterns of the Thessaloniki and Constantinople master painters. The fresco-painting in the monastery church of Saint Demetrius belongs to the Byzantine painting patterns achieved in Old Serbia-Macedonia the second half of the 14th century. The tendency for adding dramatization and narrative painting of the scenes is visible. The content of the Marko’s Monastery fresco-painting consists of numerous cycles: The Cherubim hymns on the Divine Service, The Akathistos of the Holy Virgin, Miracles and Parables, hagiographies of Saint Nicholas and Saint Demetrius, The Rachel Weeping of slaying the Bethlehem children, Divine Liturgy in the Altar, Angels and Demons on the columns. The painter’s skillfulness was expressed by the Holy warrior St Demetrius wearing magnificent cloths and riding a horse depicted above the entrance of the church. St Demetrius known as guard, defender of God from various enemies and natural disasters is blessed by Christ Emanuel and angels are landing carrying his helmet, sword, shield and arrow, the armor and armored gloves and the martyr wreath. The scenes depicted in the dome of narthex – Heaven with Christ Pantocrator, Table with Christ Logos and The Ascension of the Virgin Mary reveal the hidden meanings in the complex ideology in the medieval Christian art. The portraits of kings Volkashin and Marko wearing royal cloths and holding unfolded scrolls with written texts in which they are stated as donors are depicted in the life size on the southern facade of the Marko’s Monastery and make best preserved depictions of the Mrnjavchevic family rulers.

The inscription above the southern entrance to the church, inside the Saint Demetrius church of the Marko’s Monastery, written in Church-Slavic language is considered one of the most important documents containing data about the construction of the church and its donors – Faithful king Volkasin and the queen Elena and their very much beloved daughters and sons, the faithful princes Marko and Andreaš, Ivaniš and Dimitar.

Се обнови овој пребожествен храм на светиот великомаченик христов победоносец и чудотворец Димитрија, со усрдието и поспешението на благоверниот крал Волкашин и со благоверната кралица Елена и со премногу љубените нивни ќерки и синови благоверниот крал Марко и Андреаш, Иваниш и Димитар во годината 1377. А овој манастир почна да се ѕида во 1345 во дните на благоверниот цар Стефан и христољубивиот крал Волкашин, а се заврши во дните на благоверниот и христољубивиот крал Марко

This inscription was written after King Vukašin died in the Battle on Maritza River in 1371, when Marko as the first born son became king.

During the Ottoman era, in 1467/8 the Marko’s Monastery has been recorded as having 20 monks. The Marko’s Monastery prior Kiril Pejčinovik put a great deal of effort for its development as a spiritual center. By its hand-copying role during the Medieval era, Marko’s Monastery is considered as one of the most significant spiritual centers of Orthodoxy. After Abbott Kiril left in 1818, the monastic life was interrupted, the monastery properties were forcefully taken and destroyed, and the fresco-paintings were white-washed and repainted. However, the Marko’s Monastery is nowadays given its previous, representative appearance after the thorough conservation and restoration works – fresco-paintings and the church architecture are restored, and monastery dormitories and the dining room were reconstructed, making it one of the most valuable cultural heritage of Macedonia.

It needs an half hour walk from Susica village to get to the Marko’s Monastery.