Private Multi Day Monastery Tours in Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia
All private tours of Serbian monasteries are guided in English or Spanish by your professional Serbian Heritage Interpreter and a licensed Tour Guide specialised in Orthodoxy, medieval history and iconography.
Looking is not experiencing and seeing is not understanding.
To understand the meaning and messages of frescoes in monasteries, it is advisable that a specialist well-versed in Christian Orthodoxy, religious cosmology, Byzantine iconography and the history of the Middle Ages interprets them. Otherwise, you may travel hundreds of kilometres to see beautiful paintings, but you will not be able to understand their complex meaning, the messages the kings and clergy tried to convey to the faithful, nor why frescoes were painted at all. Moreover, you will not benefit from a well-informed history of the buildings that house the frescoes, their architectural significance, nor the fascinating history of the eras when they were built.
Private multi-day monastery tours are often customised and more days are added for travellers who want to visit other sites of interest. We will travel in a fully conditioned superior class vehicle driven safely by a professional chauffeur.
Tours of Serbian Medieval Christian Orthodox Monasteries
Monastery tours offer you an insight into the most crucial period of Serbian history, the time when medieval Serbia was gradually conquering parts of the Eastern Roman Empire, also referred to as Byzantine Empire, expanding its borders to the east and when it became a significant political, cultural and economic power on the Balkan Peninsula. The Nemanjic military powerhouse that rivalled and threatened the Byzantine Empire saw the good times come to an end when the dynasty died out, the Ottomans slowly conquered the Balkans, and Serbia and its allies lost a significant and epic battle against the invading Turks in what is known as the Battle of Kosovo.
The GOLDEN AGE of Serbia from 12th until the mid-15th century, times of the kings and emperors of the Nemanjic dynasty, times of Moravian Serbia's princes, before and after the Battle of Kosovo and before it disappeared from the historical scene, is when the majority of the most important monasteries were built.
Serbian Medieval Orthodox Monasteries are spread all over the Balkan Peninsula as in Middle Ages Serbia comprised areas which now belong to different modern neighbouring states. They were founded when the state of Serbia was so expansive, and it took in areas now known as different nation states.
Some of the most important medieval Serbian Orthodox monasteries today are included in UNESCO's List of World Heritage Sites:
SERBIA - Studenica Monastery, Sopocani Monastery, Old Ras, St. Peter's Church and St. George's Pillars Monastery.
KOSOVO - Decani Monastery, Gracanica Monastery, Patriarchate of Pec and the Church of the Holy Virgin of Ljevisa in Prizren.
MACEDONIA - churches and monasteries in Ohrid
During our private monastery tours, you will gain an accurate and deep understanding of Serbian people, their medieval history, the Golden Age of Serbia and Orthodoxy. You will enjoy exciting stories about the places visited - taking you back into the Middle Ages and giving you an insight into the lives of the people of that time - the conflicts, the struggles, the power plays between competing empires; the way the people lived, how they saw their world and how they interpreted what was happening around them. You will see fresco paintings which are considered as the highest achievements of medieval European art and learn about great Byzantine painters, fresco painting techniques, the architects from Adriatic coast and Byzantium. Also, you will have a glimpse into the life of monks and nuns inside these monasteries.
Monastery tours described below have been created for lovers of history and medieval art, and for discerning travellers who want to understand the essence of Serbian people. Travelling through Serbia and not visiting medieval Orthodox monasteries is missing an essential part of Serbian culture and heritage.
We will explore the interior of Serbia and neighbouring countries and their pristine mountains, idyllic pastoral landscapes, colourful local markets, remote villages, and you will get a real taste of the Balkans by eating fresh local food at country inns.
No. 16 – Private Tour of the Best Serbian Medieval Monasteries - 2 days
We will visit the seven most important Serbian medieval monasteries dating from the 9th to the 15th centuries and see exceptional frescoes painted by the best Byzantine painters of the time.
You will have the unique opportunity to stay in the STUDENICA Monastery, attend Orthodox Liturgy in the morning and listen to the chanting of the monks. Studenica Monastery was founded in the 12th century and is considered to be the crowning achievement of medieval culture and sacral art in Serbia. After a guided tour with your Serbian Heritage Interpreter, you will have plenty of time to explore the three churches in the Studenica Monastery complex and view the splendid frescoes on your own and at your own pace.
We will also visit the MANASIJA Monastery, an extraordinary creation of the Serbian medieval sacral heritage. The impressive fortification was built with ramparts and towers, and its church frescoes are of the utmost artistic value in the Eastern Christian world in the early 15th century. It is a miracle the frescoes survived after spending more than a century exposed to the weather under the Ottomans. Travelling via country roads through picturesque mountain villages we will reach the KALENIC Monastery to admire its refined exterior decoration and some of the finest and delicate frescoes painted in medieval Serbia.
After visiting LJUBOSTINJA Monastery, we will continue our journey through the scenic Valley of the River Ibar. At the outskirts of Novi Pazar, a vibrant oriental town we will visit St. PETER'S CHURCH. It is regarded as the oldest Serbian Orthodox church, and it is historically linked with Old Ras, one of the first known Serbian capitals. We will visit the ST. GEORGE'S PILLARS Monastery, from the 12th century, built on the top of a hill, which offers splendid views of the surroundings.
At the SOPOCANI Monastery, a reminder of the contacts between Western civilisation and the Byzantine world, we will see the most prominent examples of the 13th-century European painting. Finally, we will visit the ZICA Monastery (13th c.), the first seat of the independent Serbian Archbishopric and the church where five Serbian kings were crowned.
No. 17 – Private Tour of the Best Serbian Medieval Monasteries in Serbia and Kosovo - 4 days
This tour features all Serbian medieval monasteries in Serbia proper and Kosovo included in the UNESCO's List of World Heritage Sites. We will also visit some other monasteries which are still not included on the UNESCO List but are well worth visiting.
In Serbia we will visit monasteries dating from the 12th and 13th century Studenica, Sopocani, Zica as well as the older St. Peter's Church and 15th-century monasteries of Manasija, Kalenic and Ravanica.
In Kosovo we will visit monasteries dating from the 14th century: GRACANICA Monastery located on Kosovo Field, at outskirts of Pristina and considered as an extraordinary gem of Byzantine architecture; PATRIARCHATE OF PEC, the complex of churches built at the entry of Rugova Canyon, one of Europe's longest and deepest canyons, and DECANI Monastery, nestled among chestnut groves at the foot of the Prokletije Mountains and recognised as the largest and best-preserved medieval church in the entire Balkans. Created over a span of 15 years, the frescoes exist in a state of extraordinary preservation. On the façade of the church, you will see a world of mythological creatures and symbols, illustrating for the faithful the beliefs, warnings and promises of divine protection.
We will visit the town of PRIZREN, founded on the medieval trading route, with its well preserved old houses, Catholic and Orthodox churches, mosques and hammams. On the hill above the town is an ancient fortress offering fantastic panoramic views of the mountains and the old town. We will visit the Church of the Holy Virgin of Ljevisa and see the extraordinary frescoes that are regarded as the highest achievements of Byzantine painters at the beginning of the 14th century.
During the tour, you will not only hear about the glorious Golden Age of medieval Serbia, its arts and life in Middle Ages but also gain an accurate and deep understanding of the complex history of all ethnic groups which live in Kosovo and Metohija and of times when the Ottoman Empire changed the ethnic structure forever.
No. 18 – Private Tour of Medieval Monasteries in Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia - 7 days
During the customised multi-day tour of Serbian monasteries, we will visit some of the most important and beautiful churches and monasteries built in medieval Serbia. During the GOLDEN AGE, Serbian kings, emperors, nobility and clergy commissioned some of the most eminent Byzantine painters to paint the interiors of their endowments.
Master builders from the Eastern Roman Empire, also referred to as the Byzantine Empire or Adriatic coast were commissioned to build churches and monasteries that have survived over the centuries and are still standing strong today. Some are still active churches and monasteries, while others are now only churches used by small rural communities.
In Serbia and Kosovo, we would visit monasteries mentioned in the programs above. In Macedonia, the Old Serbia, we would visit monasteries built during the 14th century, mostly endowments of the mighty Serbian King Milutin and the nobility. We will travel through the countryside and visit monasteries and churches in secluded villages and small towns, and you will have the opportunity to learn about history, cultures and traditions of all ethnic groups and modern nations who now live there.