Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Type / Christian religious centre

Decani Monastery

Info Sections
Decani Monastery

About the site

Corridor: Diagonal Road, Sofia-Ohrid Road
Country: Serbia, Visoki Decani, Djakovica/Gjakova
Type: Christian religious centre
Epoch: Middle Ages
Theme: Christian Monasteries
World Heritage: Cultural Heritage
Middle AgesChristian MonasteriesChristian religious centreCultural Heritage

The Decani Monastery is located at the foot of the Prokletije mountains, in the western part of the province of Kosovo. It was built in the mid 14th century for the Serbian King Stefan Decanski, and after the king’s death it also houses his mausoleum. The church was finished by his son, Serbian tzar Dusan. The monastery church is the largest of all medieval churches in South Eastern Europe and represents the last important phase of Byzantine-Romanesque architecture in the region. Looking at the building from the outside we can see how the Romanesque style influenced the builder, whose name is written on the façade: Friar Vita from Kotor, who came all the way from the coast to build this church. The façade is covered with sculptors of fantastic creatures such as griffins, centaurs and monsters. The entire interior of the church is covered with exceptional and well-preserved Byzantine paintings. The Church inside contains 20 mayor cycles of frescoes and is the largest preserved gallery of Serbian medieval art, featuring over 1,000 individual depictions of saints. The impressive Nemanjic Line shows all the members of the Royal Dynasty. It is rare that in Medieval art that one of the painters signed the fresco as Srdj the Sinful.
The original marble floor is preserved, as are numerous Romanesque sculptures, the interior furniture, and the main 14th century iconostasis. The Decani treasury is the richest in Serbia – it has about 60 exceptional icons from the 14th to 17th centuries. The architecture and decoration of the monastery represent an exceptional intertwining of Byzantine and Western traditions.

Read more about Decani Monastery at the Unesco World Heritage List.