Vratna Monastery

Vratna Monastery

Vratna Monastery is set hidden between the high peaks of the Miroc Mountain, right beside the Vratna River in East Serbia – the Timocka krajina region. You can notice the Vratna Monastery only from its eastern side, approaching it on 200 meters as it is hidden by high surrounding rocks. Monastery of Vratna is located at the very entrance to the famous Vratna stone gates – prerast – 40 km northeast of Negotin and some 20 km east of Brza Palanka. The name of the Vratna Monastery comes from the famous Vratna Gates – the stone doors, so-called “prerast”. The first two stone gates – the Veliki and Mali prerast are located some 300 meters from the Vratna Monastery, while the third stone gate – the Suva prerast is situated about 2 hours of walk from there, upstream the river.

Vratna Monastery was founded in the 14th century by Archbishop Nikodim Grcic, the favorite assistant of King Milutin. The part of Vratna Monastery dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord was built around 1415. The Church of the Vratna Monastery is 16 meters long and 7,5 meters wide with walls that are 2,5 meters thick. The ceilings of the Vratna Monastery church are rather low and lighted by six tiny windows like gun-holes while the narthex is lighted by 2 circle windows. The simple structure of Vratna Monastery itself has no appearance of the time of its construction due to many reconstructions after several damages when some parts of different shapes were added.

Most of Vratna Monastery icons come from Russia and special attraction is the Royal Doors dating from the 19th century. In the second part of the 18th century Vratna Monastery was abandoned to be reestablished by Stanko Frajkor, the Duke from Negotin. Turks burnt the Vratna Monastery in 1813 after the failure of the First Serbian Uprising. Jon Tajkulica restored Vratna Monastery in 1837. The old Monastery Dormitory in front of the belfry was erected in 1856 by locals from villages of Urovica, Vratna and Jabukovac. Its roof has been recovered recently when the belfry above the narthex was added. South from the Vratna Church there is the Monastery Dormitory that was built in recent time. Nowadays it is nunnery which carried out another reconstructions in 2006 and 2015 when the fresco painting was refreshed. The miracle-working icon of the Holy Virgin with Christ child of Vratna is set on the throne in the middle of the norther wall of the church. It is work of the Greek zografs – painters dating from the end of the 17th or beginning of the 18th century. There are evidences of numerous examples of miracle healing of faithful people who approached this icon with true faith and love.

Vratna Monastery got its name after huge 30 meters high stone gates /stone bridges/ carved in Vratna-Jabuca River course that formed them during the hundreds of thousands of years. Actually they are the resemblances of the former cave through which the river used to pass. There are altogether 3 gates : The Great and The Small and the Dry stone Bridges. Recently the road taking to the Bridges was discontinued by the fence around the Monastery of Vratna so one gets to the First Bridge along the tough 200 meters longer path. In the vicinity of the Vratna Monastery there is solitude heritage of Saint Nikodim Tismanski which is nearly inapproachable.

The entire monastic complex of Vratna, its village, the Vratna stone bridges and the Monastery is surrounded by rivers and forest representing one of the most significant attractions of Negotin area. On the vast meadows nearby Vratna Monastery there are numerous moufflons /musk oxen/ easily approachable to the vicinity of 50 meters. They are easily visible in the forests while climbing up the steep path from Vratna Monastery up to Miroc Mountain Peaks and to the Stone Bridges of Vratna /Vratnjanske kapije/.