Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Type / Christian religious centre

The Monastery of St. John of Bigor near Debar

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The Monastery of St. John of Bigor near Debar

About the site


Corridor: Via Egnatia, Sofia-Ohrid Road
Country: FYR of Macedonia, Debar
Type: Christian religious centre
Epoch: Modern Times, Middle Ages
Theme: Christian Monasteries
World Heritage:
Modern TimesMiddle AgesChristian MonasteriesChristian religious centre

The monastery is located in the western part of Macedonia, on the slopes of Mt. Bistra, above the valley of the river Radica, 25 kilometers far from Debar. It is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It was founded in the 11th century by the monk Jovan. The main church was reconstructed in 1743 by the monk of local origin, Ilarion. In the beginning of the 19th century the church became a monumental building with central dome, narthex and a porch on the western side. At the same period many other buildings of the monastery complex were erected, such as: the section with two refectories on two levels (to the west of the church), a building for the monks on three levels (to the north of the church), a defense tower, etc. The most significant period of its development was in the time of the archimandrite Arsenius (first half of the 19th century) who invited the best artists of the region to decorate the church and the refectories. The renown artists from the Miak villages (the families of Petre Filipovski Garkata from the village of Osoj and Makarie Frchkovski from Galichnik) constructed the iconostasis with remarkable wood carved decoration (1830-1835); the painters Michael and Demtrius from Samarina (North Greece) painted the icons of the iconostasis and the apse space of the “Man Refectory” (c.1830-1835); the local painter Dicho (from the Miak village of Tresonche), painted many icons and the walls of the Man refectory (second half of the 19th century). Today, the Women Refectory is adopted in a Gallery of icons painted in the region between the 17th and the 19th centuries.

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