Zagradje Monastery

The Zagradje Monastery is endowment of herzeg – lord Stefan Vukčić Kosača, erected in the first half of the 15th century in the center of the Medieval Serbian area of Hum. The Zagradje Monastery is located above junction of the Piva and Tara River which create here the Drina River, in present northwestern Montenegro, and the border crossing point between Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The church of the Zagradje Monastery is dedicated to the Birth of the Saint John the Forerunner and belongs to the Bishopric of Budimlje-Niksic of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The main road E762 which connects Pluzine Municipality in Montenegro and Foca Municipality in Republika Srpska of Bosnia and Herzegovina passes through Scepan Polje and makes the main road between Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

The Zagradje Monastery is located approximately on the half way from the medieval fortified Sokol Grad and the Scepan Polje – place which is first time mentioned under the name of Medjurjecje in annals from the 10th century by the Byzantine historians. Beneath the Zagradje Monastery there are foundations of the Šćepanica church dedicated to Saint Archdeacon Stefan. Herzeg Stefan, donor-khtetor of the Zagradje Monastery /1404-1466/ was grandson of the famous duke Vlatko Hranić Vuković who took part in the Kosovo Battle as the military leader of the army of King Tvrtko. Vlatko had three sons – Sandalj, Vukac and Vuk, and was succeeded by the oldest son Sandalj /1392-1435/, the reputed duke of Bosnia and Hum, who possessed court in Scepan Polje and was married to Jelena Balsic, daughter of the Serbian Prince Lazar. Hum area was named Herzegovina after Sandalj Stefan Vukcic – son of his brother Vukac who came to the throne and proclaimed himself as the Herzeg of Saint Sava. Right above the Zagradje Monastery, which was chosen as the place of his eternal peace, there are ruins of the herzeg’ s royal town of Soko or Sokol.

The church of the Zagradje Monastery is the most monumental monument of the rulers Kosaca Family that was often described by very reputable writers and scientists, and even in its semi-ruined state was considered as the unique and extraordinary achievement of the medieval church architecture of the Balkans. As this church in terms of architecture features expressions inspired by the Raska school of construction and architecture, which represents proven successful combination of the Eastern and the Western church architecture – applied in Studenica, Sopocani and Decani Monasteries, and the Pec Patriarchate churches, … there is also evident continuation of those tendencies – the Romanesque gable, Byzantine vault, alternate usage of Gothic and Byzantine arches, built-in iconostasis… harmonized in such way to serve the Orthodox-Christian Liturgies. This structure was created by further development of the Raska architecture style of construction, enriched with specific local elements in connection with the architectural traditions of the wider area – Kotor, Dubrovnik, … and with details of the Renaissance architecture that already existed in the West as accepted and applied style of construction of sacral structures. As the personality of his time and his environment, Herzeg Stefan had succeeded to join those often contradictory cultural and architectural features, and became the donor of this church. For its originality and for the reason of suspended construction of the churches in this area, caused primarily by fall of Herzegovina under the Turkish rule, this church remained the sole example of the architectural achievement which can not be easily compared with and in clear sense can not get along with any other sacral structure in the wider area. It is important to remark the uniquely stable statics of this church that enabled the Zagradje Monastery remained under the dome nearly six hundred years despite that fact that its lead roof was removed right after the Turkish conquest, and was used for cover of the then-built Aladza mosque in Foca.

The large reconstruction of this sacral structure begun in 1998 with the blessing of His Holliness Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and Littoral with the greatest contributions from the very beginning of the late Abbott Lazar of Ostrog, as well as famous companies of the area – Factory of electrodes and Hydro-power Plant Piva. Intense works continued especially since the arrival of Abbott Father Lazar in 2001 when also accomplished reconstruction of the entire monastic complex and personally painted interior of the church with wonderful frescoes, that was very difficult to complete due to shortage of space of the Monastery because of historical circumstances. The Pluzine Municipality also greatly contributed to the reconstruction of the Zagradje Monastery as well as numerous notable individuals from Montenegro, Republic of Srpska, Serbia, and Canada…..  source Park Prirode Piva – Piva Park of Nature