Saint Archangel Michael Monastery Štip

The hilltop stronghold, 150 meters high on the rocky hill over the town of Stip in east of Macedonia, with the monastery complex includes foundations of necropolis and settlements from the bronze and iron ages, thermal spas from the Roman period and numerous well preserved cultural-historical monuments from the middles ages. Stip was the largest cultural and trade center in eastern Macedonia since the ancient times. At the end of the rule of the Serbian king Stefan Decanski /Stephen of Decani Monastery/, and at the beginning of the reign of his son Dusan, there was the local lord Hrelja who governed the area of Stip. The governor Hrelja had built the Church dedicated to Saint Archangel Michael in the western part of hinterland of Stip, and gifted the shrine and the belonging estate to the Hilandar Monastery,  which was later in 1332 confirmed by the tsar Dusan. The historian of that period testify : “This church of the ruler and military leader Hrelja still stands in Stip, on the Hisar hill, and is named the Fitija. Next to this church there are other churches of Old Serbia, beneath the Hisar hill – the Church of Saint Prophet Elias – the endowment of Konstantin Dejanovic from 1381, the Church of Saint Savior – the endowment of duke Demetrios, erected in 1369, and the Church of Saint John the Baptist – the endowment of ruler Jovan Probistipovic, built in 1350… ”

The Church of Saint Archangel Michael is located under the Isar Fortress, built on the foundations of the antique Astibo and Byzantine Stypion, on a dominant hill between the Bregalnica and Otinja Rivers in East Macedonia. This shrine is the first one among the four Medieval churches erected beneath the fortification in a row making a cross. It is a small medieval church, built in the first half of the 14th century with a dome over the cross-shaped basis and with facades in layers of bricks and stone. During the restorations works, the paraklis dating from the 14th century was destroyed. The Church of Saint archangel Michael was erected by the Protosevastes Hrelya, the duke of Tsar Dušan, who is known in the Serbian epics as the „Relja krilatica” and who ruled the areas towards the border with Bulgaria and Byzantine Empire at that time. The church painting is preserved only in fragments which very poorly depict the images of Tzar Constantine and of his mother, Holy Empress Helen, as well as the image of a holy warrior. The outside walls are beautifully decorated with blocks of processed stone and the only entrance is on the west side. There is a bell tower next to the church. The Church of the Saint Savior in Stip is set on the left shore of the Otinja River, on the road leading to the Novo selo village. The Saint Savior church is located on the flat rock and attracts attention of the visitors’ eyes by its tiny dimensions and the cozy and secluded appearance with the surrounding necropolis and numerous tombs.