Saint George Monastery Polog

The Polog Monastery is located in south-east Macedonia, on the border between Mariovo and Tikvesh regions, 20 km southwest of Kavadarci, at the Visesnica Mountain foothill. Polog Monastery is dedicated to Saint George and makes a significant monument of culture from the middle of the 14th century richly decorated with frescoes of high artistic quality. Polog Monastery can be reached by boat across the man-made artificial Tikvesh Lake, as it is nowadays completely isolated in the secluded and hardly accessible area, on the left bank of the beautiful Tikves Lake. One can approach the Polog Monastery enjoying the unique exploration experience from three places: by the dam near the village of Vozarci, from the Resava village near Kamen Dol and from Kamenica near the Begnishte village. Polog Monastery is present day situated in an inaccessible and secluded area, but during its long history the monastery used to arise high above the Crna River canyon.

The present beautiful church of the Polog Monastery dedicated to Swaint George, as a lonely representative of its significant and glorified historical period honorably watches over the invaluable Medieval art from the time of the Tzar Dushan. Erection and fresco decoration of the Saint George Monastery in Poloski village was donated by nun Maria, mother of Jovan Dragusin, the cousin of Tzar Dusan. King Dusan issued the charter in Polog in 1333 to Dubrovnik Republic which attested giving over to Dubrovnik the entire Littoral area of the Serbian state from Ston to Dubrovnik for sum of 8000 perpers, and the annual tribute to the Serbian rulers of 500 perpers.

It is assumed that the Polog Monastery Church of Saint George dates back to the 9th century, since its architectural style is very similar to the architectural style of the Ohrid churches. According to the latest research, the structure of the Saint George Monastery Polog is dated before 1340 AD, while the frescoes were painted in 1343-1345. Church dedicated to Saint George in Polog has been built of stone and bricks, and features a Byzantine style of architecture, with the nave and porch, and an eight-sided dome and outer trefoil apse. Conservation works of the fresco painting of the Polog Monastery were carried out from 1982 til 1986. When the layer of frescoes from the 18th century was removed, painted over the layer from the 14th century, on the once western facade of the church, the original complex portrait depiction was found. On the northern part of the western facade of Saint George church in Polosko village, in the upper zone was depicted King Stefan Dusan, while his son Uros and Queen Jelena were panted on the southern part of the same wall, also in the upper zone.

The monumental image of King Dušan, who receives a sword in token of his prosperous military campaign towards the south, is counterpoised by the figures of the young King Uroš dressed in an identical attire and represented in the same posture as his father, as well as by Queen Jelena, blessed by an angel descending from the skies. /Elizabeta Dimitrova/. Depiction of Jovan Dragušin in lavishly decorated aristocratic costume, with his wife is painted below the fresco of the Serbian king Dusan, on the northern part of the western facade of the church, whole south of the entrance, below portraits of Uros and Queen Jelena, there are portraits of Dragusin’s son and his mother – nun Maria /Dragana Pavlović/.

The interior of the Polog church is entirely picturesque, painted with wonderful 14th century frescoes depicting various saints, Serbian ruler family and nun Maria, in black cassock, holding a model of church in her arms. The interior of the Saint George Monastery in Polosko village also boasts famous church chandeliers carved in wood, dating from 1492, which is the oldest dated woodcarving artwork of Macedonia. Very impressive also is the large iconostasis cross with the wood-carved crucifixion dating from 1584.

During its long existence the Polog Monastery had been abandoned in several occasions, but its activity never ceased completely. In the 16th century the Polog Monastery had an active monastic brotherhood and was a powerful spiritual center, when the large gold-plated wooden cross was carved /1584/. The fragments of the 17th century iconostasis, the icon of Saint George depicting scenes of the martyrs life, the wood-carved chandelier /17th century/ and three wood carved double Royal doors /17th century/ make all that has remained from the wealth of the religious object with great artistic value which once adorned the interior of the church. The throne icons of the Holy Virgin /Sveta Bogorodica/ dating from 1649, and “Jesus Christ – the Savior with the apostles” icon from the beginning of the 16th century, as well as the royal gates originating from the end of the 16th century, are of great value. At the beginning of the 19th century the lodgings on the eastern and on the southern side have been built, the bell tower and the several other structures of the Polog Monastery Medieval complex. In the recent reconstruction a new Dormitory of the Polog Monastery was added. The church of the Polog Monastery, dedicated to Saint George stands today in the garden full of roses. Photos curtesy of the Povardarska Eparhija, Kavadarecko Arhijerejsko Namesnistvo.