Patriarchate of Peć (monastery)

This article is about the monastery and historical seat of the Serbian Church. It is not to be confused with Serbian Patriarchate of Peć.
Patriarchate of Peć Monastery
Манастир Пећка патријаршија / Manastir Pećka patrijaršija
Patrikana e Pejës

The Church complex of the Monastery of Peć
Monastery information
Order Serbian Orthodox
Established 13th century
Diocese Eparchy of Raška and Prizren (just territorially, since monastery is under direct patriarchal (stavropegial) jurisdiction)
Controlled churches
  • Church of the Apostles
  • Church of St. Demetrius
  • Church of the Virgin Hodegetria
  • Church of St. Nicholas
Founder(s) Archbishop Sava, Archbishop Arsenije I
Important associated figures Archbishops Sava, Arsenije I, Nikodim I, Danilo II
Style Serbo-Byzantine
Location Near Peć, Kosovo[lower-alpha 1]
Coordinates 42°39′40″N 20°15′58″E / 42.661°N 20.266°E / 42.661; 20.266Coordinates: 42°39′40″N 20°15′58″E / 42.661°N 20.266°E / 42.661; 20.266
Public access Yes
Official name Medieval Monuments in Kosovo
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, iv
Designated 2004 (28th session)
Reference no. 724
Region Europe and North America
State party Serbia
Extensions 2006
Type Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance
Designated 1947
Reference no. СК 1370

The Monastery of the Patriarchate of Peć (Serbian: Манастир Пећка патријаршија/Manastir Pećka patrijaršija), or simply Patriarchate of Peć (pronounced [pɛ̂ːt͡ɕkaː patrijǎ(ː)rʃija], Albanian: Patrikana e Pejës) is a medieval Serbian Orthodox monastery located near the city of Peć, in Kosovo.[lower-alpha 1] The church complex is unique in Serbia, with three churches connected as one whole,[1] with a total of four churches.[2] Built in the 13th and 14th centuries, it is the spiritual seat and mausoleum of the Serbian archbishops and Serbian Patriarchs. It is situated by the Peć Bistrica, at the entrance of the Rugova Canyon. It is part of the "Medieval Monuments in Kosovo", a combined World Heritage Site along with three other Orthodox monuments.

The monastery is ecclessiastically administrated by the Eparchy of Raška and Prizren, but it has special (stavropegial) status, since it is under direct jurisdiction of the Serbian Patriarch whose title includes Archbishop of Peć.


The monastery complex is located near Peć, in the Metohija region, on the main road connecting Metohija with Montenegro.[1] It is situated by the Peć Bistrica, at the entrance of the Rugova Canyon.[3] A morus nigra tree, 750-years-old, is preserved in the monastery yard, called Šam-dud, planted by Archbishop Sava II between 1263 and 1272.[4]


The monastery is located at the edges of the old Roman and Byzantine Siperant.[1] The monastery complex, consisting of four churches,[2] of which three churches connected as one whole,[1] was built in the first third of the 13th century, 1321–24, and 1330–37.[1] It is presumed that the site became a metochion (land owned and governed by a monastery) of the Žiča monastery, the seat of the Serbian Archbishopric at that time, while Archbishop Sava (d. 1235) was still alive.[3] In the first third of the 13th century, Archbishop Arsenije I (s. 1233–63) had the Church of the Holy Apostles built on the north side.[5] That church was decorated on Arsenije's order in ca. 1250[3] or ca. 1260.[5] In 1253,[6] Arsenije I moved the Serbian Church seat from Žiča to Peć amid foreign invasion,[7] to a more secure location, closer to the centre of the country.[3] The Serbian Church seat was then shortly returned to Žiča in 1285, before being moved to Peć in 1291, again amid foreign invasion.[7] Archbishop Nikodim I (s. 1321–24) built the Church of St. Demetrius on the north side of the Church of the Holy Apostles, while his successor, Archbishop Danilo II (s. 1324–37) built the Church of the Holy Mother of God Hodegetria and the Church of St. Nicholas on the south side.[5] In front of the three main churches, he then raised a monumental narthex.[5] In the time of Archbishop Joanikije II, around 1345, the hitherto undecorated Church of St. Demetrius was decorated with frescoes. Emperor Stefan Dušan (r. 1331–55) raised the Serbian Archbishopric to Patriarchal status.

During the 14th century, small modifications were made to Church of the Holy Apostles, so some parts were decorated later. From the 13th to the 15th century, and in the 17th century, the Serbian Archbishops and Serbian Patriarchs were buried in the churches of the Patriarchate. In 1459–63, after the death of Arsenije II, the patriarchate became vacant upon abolishment by the Ottoman Empire, but was restored in 1555–57 by Suleiman the Magnificent under the advice of Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, while several Bulgarian eparchies were placed under its jurisdiction.[8][9] Georgije Mitrofanović (1550–1630) painted new frescoes in the Church of St. Demetrius in 1619–20.[5] In 1673–74 painter Radul painted the Church of St. Nicholas.[5] In the early 18th century, and especially during and after the Austro-Russian–Turkish War (1735–1739), the patriarchate became the target of the Phanariotes and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, whose goal was to place the eparchies of the Serbian Patriarchate under its own jurisdiction. In 1737 the first Greek head of the Serbian Patriarchate was appointed after the intervention of Alexandros Mavrocordatos, who labeled the Serb leadership "untrustworthy". In the following years the Phanariotes embarked on policy initiatives that led to the exclusion of Serbs in the succession of the patriarchate, which was eventually abolished in September 1766.[9]

In 1947, the Patriarchate of Peć was added to Serbia's "Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance" list,[5] and on 13 July 2006 it was placed on UNESCO's World Heritage List as an extension of the Visoki Dečani site which was overall placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.[10]

Restoration of the complex began in June 2006 and was completed in November 2006. The main aim was to protect the complex from the weather, as well as to repair the inner walls and exterior appearance. Two previously unknown frescoes were uncovered on the north facade of the Church of St. Demetrios, of a Serbian queen and nobleman.[11] In 2008, the church facades were painted red, as Žiča, which led to some reactions. The sites were protected by the Kosovo Force until 2013, when the Kosovo Police took over responsibility, causing controversy.[12]


Serbian Orthodox archbishops and patriarchs were ktetors of the monastery, and these were buried in its churches. The monastery is the greatest mausoleum of Serbian religious dignitaries.[6] The monastery holds the relics of Serbian church leaders (most of whom are saints) Arsenije (s. 1233–63), Sava II (s. 1263–71), Jevstatije I (s. 1279–86), Nikodim I (s. 1316–24), Danilo II (s. 1324–37), Joanikije II (s. 1338–54), Jefrem (s. 1375–79; 1389–92), Spiridon (s. 1380–89) and Maksim I (s. 1655–74).



Church Image Notes
Church of the Holy Apostles
(Crkva sv. Apostola, also called Church of the Holy Saviour)
Built in the first third of the 13th century.
Church of St. Demetrius
(Crkva sv. Dimitrija)
Built by 1324
Church of the Holy Mother of God Hodegetria
(Crkva Bogorodice Odigitrije)
Built by 1337
Church of St. Nicholas
(Crkva sv. Nikole)
Built by 1337. A small modest church built at the side of the Hodegetria Church.

The three main churches with domes (Holy Apostles, St. Demetrius and Hodegetria) are connected with each other, linked by a joint monumental narthex. A smaller church, without a dome, is by the side of the Hodegetria Church.

See also


  1. 1 2 Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received recognition as an independent state from 110 out of 193 United Nations member states.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Krstić 2002, p. 22.
  2. 1 2 Janićijević 1998, p. 524.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Petković 2001.
  4. "Шам-дуд чува Пећку патријаршију 750 година".
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Spomenici.
  6. 1 2 Erić 2006, p. 212.
  7. 1 2 Marjanović 2001, p. 73.
  8. Kia, Mehrdad (2011-08-31). Daily Life in the Ottoman Empire. ABC-CLIO. p. 117. ISBN 9780313336928. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  9. 1 2 Frazee, Charles A. (1969-02-01). The Orthodox Church and Independent Greece, 1821-1852. CUP Archive. p. 6. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  10. UNESCO (2006). "List of World Heritage in Danger". Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  11. "Work on Restoration of Pec Patriarchate Draws to a Close". KIM Info Newsletter. November 14, 2006. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
  12. "Srpske svetinje na KiM strahuju od čuvara".


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