Tvrdoš Monastery

Tvrdoš Monastery with the church dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Virgin is the Serbian Orthodox Medieval Monastery and highly respected shrine located 5 km west of the town of Trebinje in the Republika Srpska of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the right bank of the Trebisnjica River. Tvrdoš Monastery is the seat of the Diocese of Herzegovina and Zahumlje.

The present Tvrdos Monastery was built on the foundations of the original tiny church from the 4th century, established in the era of the Constantine the Great and his mother Helen. As this was the period before the Serbs adopted Christianity it testifies on long-lasting Christian tradition of local population in the area of Herzegovina. Foundations of the original church from the 4th century of Tvrdos Monastery could be observed through the glass floor in the central part in the nave. Tvrdos Monastery with ruins of the original church is set on the karstic elevation right next to the road connecting Trebinje and Ljubinje.

Ever since it was abandoned, it became the endowment of the Serbian King Milutin, at the end of the 13th or the beginning of the 14th century. The complete restoration of the Tvrdos Monastery was carried out in 1509 by the Metropolitan Visarion I of Trebinje. Close to the Tvrdos Monastery, in the village of Mostaci there is the old crossroad through which led the road via Trebinje from the Neretva River valley to the Zeta River valley.

Present monastic church of the Tvrdos Monastery was built around 1509 to be fresco painted in 1517 by Dubrovnik master fresco painter Vice Lovrov. In the second half of the 16th and in the course of the 17th century, the clergy of Herzegovina Metropolitanate lived in Tvrdos Monastery. It is how the Diocese got its name. During the clashes between the Turks and the Venetians, the Tvrdos Monastery was destroyed by Venetians in 1694 when numerous monks left the shrine and took the precious liturgical items and manuscripts to the monasteries of Savina and Duzi. In the very first years of the 18th century there were some actions of reconstruction of the damaged monastery. Among most acknowledged restorers there were Metropolitan Nektarije and Abbot Isaije.

As per remains of the Tvrdos Monastery and the strong surrounding walls we learn that it was well prepared for successive defense against conquerors. Foundations of the old Tvrdos church which was three-nave basilica can be seen within the walls. Two side chapels are slightly shorter than the central one which is extended with narthex towards the western part of the Tvrdos church. The present day church of Tvrdos Monastery was built in 1924. Saint Vasilije Ostroski – Saint Basil of Ostrog was born in the nearby Mrkonjici village in the Popovo Polje Field, and was one of the most reputed and venerated saints of the Serbian Orthodox Church who took monastic oath and spent part of his monastic life in Tvrdos Monastery, 1630-1635.

Tvrdos Monastery is entirely surrounded with rich vineyards and widely known for its excellent wines, produced in the modern winery and kept in the wine cellar and oak barrel dating from the 16th century. There are also renewed vineyards planted in the fertile Petrovo and Popovo polje fields about which take care Tvrdos monks. The new wine cellar with tasting room perfectly fits into the monastic environment and greets visitors keen to taste delicious Tvrdos  Monastery wines, after tour of the monastic complex and lovely painted church, among which the Vranac wine is widely famous and highly delicious. The old vineyards with the Vranac wine sort cover 70 hectares, while monks of the Tvrdos Monastery planted the young vineyards in the Popovo Polje Field on the surface of 60 hectares.

The late Bishop of Zahumlje and Herzegovina, Father Atanasije, one of the highest present theologians who immensely and exceedingly supported spiritual enlightenment and revival of the Serbs in Herzegovina, was buried in Tvrdos Monastery.

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