PRIVATE MULTI-DAY MONASTERY TOURS IN SERBIA, KOSOVO AND MACEDONIA
During private monastery tours, you will gain an accurate and deep understanding of the 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 considered the highest achievements of medieval European art and learn about great Byzantine painters, fresco painting techniques, and the architects from the Adriatic coast and Byzantium. Also, you will have a glimpse into the life of monks and nuns inside these monasteries.
We will explore the interior of present Serbia and neighboring countries. We will see pristine mountains, idyllic pastoral landscapes, colorful local markets and remote villages, and you will get a real taste of the Balkans by eating fresh local food at country inns.
All private tours of Serbian monasteries are guided in English or Spanish by your professional Serbian Heritage Interpreter and a licensed Tour Guide specializing in Orthodoxy, medieval history, and iconography. Private multi-day monastery tours are often customized, and more days are added for travelers who want to visit other sites of interest.
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 kilometers 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, or the fascinating history of the eras when they were built.
Monastery tours described below have been created for lovers of history and medieval art and for discerning travelers who want to understand the essence of Serbian people and their heritage.
TOURS OF SERBIAN MEDIEVAL 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 rivaled 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. 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 the 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 Christian Orthodox Monasteries are spread all over the Balkan Peninsula as in Middle Ages, Serbia comprised areas that now belong to different modern neighboring states. They were founded when Serbia's state was so expansive, and it took in areas now known as other 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
PRIVATE TOUR OF THE BEST SERBIAN MEDIEVAL MONASTERIES - 2 days
We will visit the seven most important Serbian medieval monasteries in Serbia dating from the 9th to the 15th centuries and see exceptional frescoes painted by the best Byzantine painters of the time.
STUDENICA Monastery was founded in the 12th century and is considered 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. You will have the unique opportunity to stay in the monastery, attend Orthodox Liturgy in the morning, and listen to the monks' chanting.
MANASIJA Monastery is an extraordinary creation of the Serbian medieval sacral heritage. The impressive fortification with ramparts and high towers surrounds the temple. 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.
Traveling 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 most delicate frescoes painted in medieval Serbia.
After visiting LJUBOSTINJA Monastery, we will continue our journey through the scenic valleys of the Morava and Ibar Rivers. On 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. ST. GEORGE'S PILLARS Monastery, from the 12th century, was built on the top of a hill, offering splendid views of the surroundings.
At the SOPOCANI Monastery, a reminder of the contacts between Western civilization and the Byzantine world, we will see the most prominent examples of 13th-century European painting.
Finally, we will visit the ZICA Monastery, the first seat of the independent Serbian Archbishopric, and the church where five Serbian kings were crowned.
PRIVATE TOUR OF THE BEST SERBIAN MEDIEVAL MONASTERIES IN SERBIA AND KOSOVO - 4 days
This tour features all Serbian medieval monasteries in Central Serbia 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 centuries: Studenica, Sopocani, and 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, in the outskirts of Pristina and considered 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.
DECANI Monastery is recognized as the largest and best-preserved medieval church in the entire Balkans. The frescoes were created over a span of 15 years and are in a state of extraordinary preservation. On the church's façade, there is a world of mythological creatures and symbols, illustrating for the faithful the beliefs, warnings, and promises of divine protection.
We will visit PRIZREN, a beautiful town founded on the medieval trading route. There are still 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 regarded as one of the highest achievements of Byzantine painters at the beginning of the 14th century.
During the tour, you will hear about the glorious Golden Age of medieval Serbia, its arts, and life in the Middle Ages. You will gain an accurate and deep understanding of the complex history of all ethnic groups that live in Kosovo and Metohija and the times when the Ottoman Empire changed the ethnic structure forever.
PRIVATE TOUR OF MEDIEVAL MONASTERIES IN SERBIA, KOSOVO AND MACEDONIA - 7 days
During the customized Serbian monasteries tour, 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 walls of the churches in the monasteries they founded.
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. You will have the opportunity to learn about the history, cultures, and traditions of all ethnic groups and modern nations that now live there.