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Hello friends

We are the “SPEAK UP” English language school from Kragujevac in Serbia. Serbia is not a big country, but very old. It’s situated in the Balkan Peninsula. It used to be the biggest republic of ex-Yugoslavia. The climate in our country is continental. You should see our beautiful fields, rivers, lakes and mountains in autumn or spring. The biggest river in our country is the Sava (apart from the Danube which is an international river) and the most beautiful mountains are Zlatibor, Kopaonik, Stolovi, Radocelo, Jelica and many others. If you ever come to Serbia you should visit the Bor Lake and the Silver Lake. You must not escape Serbian monasteries!!! You also may be amazed with the hospitality of our people!

In order to introduce you our country the best we can, we wrote a brief history (the most important moments and rulers) of it. You will also see another part about our monasteries and literacy. We do hope this won’t be too long for you. If it is, we’re sorry, but we couldn’t make it shorter! Enjoy while watching it it :)




Monasteries of Serbia


Saint Sava

Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic (1787-1864)



-         Beginning of the 7th century – Serbian and other Slavonic tribes settle in the Balkans

-         8th –9th century – first Serbian dukes

-         Between 867 – 874 – Serbs become Christians

-         1096 – 1097 - Crusaders first pass across Serbia

-         1147 – 1149 – Crusaders pass across Serbia for the second time

-         Grand duke of Rashka (the area in the south of Serbia, founded as the episcopacy in 9th-10 century), Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the Nemanjic dynasty

-         Around 1170 – Nemanja defeats Byzantines at Pantin near Zvecan (on Kosovo); to glorify his victory, he founded a church dedicated to Saint George near Novi Pazar, within the complex called Djurdjevi stupovi (George’s Columns); He was also a founder of the monastery of Studenica meant for a mausoleum.

-         Around 1175 – Rastko Nemanjic – Saint Sava was born (since he’s one of the most important persons in Serbian history )

-         1183 – Thank to Nemanja, Serbia becomes an independent country;

-         Around 1191 – Rastko Nemanjic leaves for the Holy Mountain (Mountain Athos).

-         1196 – Stefan Nemanja renounces the throne and, as a monk Simeon lives in Studenica and from 1197 in the Holy Mountain (Mountain Athos)

-         1196 – 1228 - Stefan Nemanjic, Serbian grand duke and from 1217 a king; 1199 – Stefan Nemanja, the monk Simeon, dies in Hilandar

-         The end of the 12th century – the beginning of constituting Serbian aristocracy


-         The first half of the 13th century – Serbian rulers mint copper and silver coins

-         1217 – Stefan Nemanjic crowned as the first Serbian king, later known as Nemanja The First Crowned; he created the picture on our national flag; the crown is his.

-         Sava Nemanjic leaves for the Holy Mountain

-         1219- Serbian orthodox church becomes autocephalous

-         1243 – 1276 – The King Uros I – economic and cultural empowering of Serbia

-         The end of 13th century – Pec (on Kosovo) becomes the residence of the Serbian archbishopric

-         Around 1300 – 1380 – The Old Man Isaia, a monk and a diplomat, obtained the recognition of Pec Patriarchy

-         1331 –1355 – Stefan Dushan Nemanjic – Serbian King and the first Tsar (from 1345); published Dushan’s Code; 1355 – The Tsar Dushan dies under unknown circumstances

-         1371 – Turks come in the Balkans; the battle on the Maricariver

-         1375 - The recognition of Serbian Patriarchy in Pec by the Tsarigrad’s (now Istanbul) Patriarchy

-         1389 – Kosovo battle; the battle at Kosovo field where Serbian army under the duke Lazar fought with the Turkish army led by the sultan Murat I; first, Serbian army was successful and Lazar’s feudal lord, Milosh, killed Murat and made a real mess among the Turks; but then Murat’s son took command, the more powerful Turkish army won, Lazar was captured and executed. His widow, Milica, on behalf of his son Stefan, had to accept to pay annual taxes and some military help to Turks.


-         1389 – 1427 – Stefan Lazarevic, Serbian duke and a despot, announced Belgrade his capital city, literature and cultural centre.

-         1459 – Serbia falls under the Turkish rule entirely and stays there for 5 centuries

-         1557 - The Pec Patriarchy reaffirmed; the big role was played by Mehmed-pasha Sokolovic, originally Serb from Stari Vlah; his brother Makarije became the first Serbian patriarch (1557 – 1574).

-         1674 – 1706 Pec Patriarch Arsenije the 3rd Carnojevic – the opponent of the Turks; when Vienna war began, he approached to the Saint Alliance against Turkey, first to Venice republic and after the Austrian army came in Serbia 1688-1689 – to Austria; after a defeat of the Austrian army at Kachanik, he retreats, leading Serbian people, to Hungary in 1690, where he fought for the independence of Serbian church and civil authorities.

-         1804 – “Cutting of Dukes” where the Turks killed a lot of distinguished Serbs. In Shumadia and the west Serbia the beginning of the First Serbian Uprising led by Karadjordje Petrovic, and became a fight for freedom and independence.

-         1808 – The first High School opened in Belgrade.

-         1813 – The Turks ended the Uprising in blood.

-         1815 – The Second Serbian Uprising – led by Milos Obrenovic; Ali-pasha and Milos agreed to give Serbs the right to self-rule; Milos was recognized as a duke.

-         1832 – National Library in Belgrade founded

-         1835 – The first Constitution – on the day of the Visitation of the Virgin (15th February), Serbs got the first constitution, done by the model of French and Belgian ones; too liberal, so Russia, Austria and Turkey were against it which enabled Milos to suspend it.


-         1838 – The Lycee founded in Kragujevac; in 1905 it became the Belgrade University.

-         1844 – “Serbian Civil Code” was passed; National Museum in Belgrade was founded.

-         1846 – The Supreme Court was founded.

-         1868 – The National Theatre in Belgrade was founded.

-         1882 – The Kingdom of Serbia was announced; the king was Milan Obrenovic.

-         1888 – The constitution of the Kingdom of Serbia was passed where parliamentary democracy was brought in.

-         1889 – 1903 – The King Aleksandar Obrenovic; in April 1901 he changed the Constitution with a new one, which he didn’t respect; he was an autocratic ruler and he was also married with a court lady, Draga Masin which caused a rebellion of the officers and he was killed.

-         1901 – The April Constitution was changed: beside the parliament, the Senate was added, and the two were equal inlegislation.

-         1903- 1921 – Petar I Karadjordjevic, the king of Serbia (1903-1918) and the Kingdom od Serbs, Croats and Slovenians (1918-1921)

-         1918 (1st December) – the kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians was declared

-         1921 – on 28th June the first constitution of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians was passed.


-         1921 – 1934 - Aleksandar I Karadjordjevic – the king of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians (1921- 1929) that is of Yugoslavia (from 1929). Known as the King of Uniting.

-         1934 – King Aleksandar killed in Marseilles.

-         1934-1941 – Yugoslavia was ruled by regents led by Duke Pavle Karadjordjevic, because Petar II Karadjordjevic was underage.

The Karadjordjevic dynasty escaped to London when World War II began. In 2000, they came back to Serbia.

-         1941 – 1945 – World War II

1999 – Bombardment of Serbia.



The Studenica Monastery lies at the end of a 12-kilometre road which begins in the small town of Usce and winds its way through the Ibar gorge. It is beautifully set on the wooded slopes of Mount Radocelo.

Throughout the history of medieval Serbia, Studenica was the most prominent and the most revered monastery. It served as a residence for Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the Nemanjic Dynasty, and for his son Sava, the first Serbian archbishop.

The monastery now comprises three churches: the Church of the Virgin, St. Nicholas and King’s Church.



Decani is 17 km from Pec on the road to Prizren. This church is the largest construction of medieval Serbia and it was built from 1328 to 1355, its frescoes being completed in 1350. Decani’s patrons were King Stefan Uros III (1321-1331), remembered as Stefan Decanskibecause ofthis church, and his son King Dusan (1331-1355).



 Zica Monastery, an endowment of King Stefan the First Crowned built between 1208 and 1220, lies in a plain near Kraljevo, at the entrance to the Ibar gorge. Zica was the first seat of the autonomous Serbian Archbishops and it was there that almost all medieval Serbian rulers were crowned.

Architecturally, Zica belongs to the Raska school, characterized by the Romanesque style of the Littoral adapted to the needs of the Orthodox religious service. However, more in keeping with the tradition of the Mount Athos monasteries, Zica was originally painted red.

Only a few of the old frescoes dating back to the 13th century still remain in this church. These frescoes can be seen mainly in the lateral choir recesses. The rest of the wall paintings are from the early 14th century. The fine frescoes in the south chapel, dedicated to St. Stefan, belong to this period.



Ravanica, built around 1380. was an endowment of Prince Lazar. Originally, the church was surrounded by fortifications, only the ruins of which remain today. The church, built of stone and brick, has five domes. Its windows and all the arches along its facades are decorated with low relief of sculptured geometric plait-work filled in with zoomorphic motifs. The spacious narthex in front of the church was built in the 18th century.

The frescoes of Ravanica, painted by the maestro Konstantin, include a very beautiful Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, with the city and the multitude depicted with special charm. There are also portraits of Prince Lazar, his wife Milica and his sons Stefan and Vuk.



Sopocani, the medieval Serbia’s most brilliant monument to its arts, stands tucked away among the picturesque hills 16 km from Novi Pazar.

The monastery was built around 1265 by King Uros I, son of King Stefan the First Crowned. Like the majority of Serbian monasteries, it too was to serve as its founder's burial place. The marble sarcophagus above Uros‘s grave, in the southern part of the church, has survived to the present.

The frescoes of Sopocani have won recognition long ago, both at home and abroad as the greatest accomplishment of medieval Serbian painting. Many prominent art historians have described them as the best works in the Byzantine style.


Monastery Mileseva is 7 km from Prijepolje. 

King Vladislav, grandson of Stefan Nemanjic established it in about 1230. In one part of the Monastery he built a tomb for Sava Nemanjic – a chapel with beautiful frescos. 

During the centuries of Turkish occupation it became a place of pilgrimage, which gave consolation to the enslaved Serb people but also to Mohammedans.

 To stop the influence of St. Sava's tomb, the Turks moved St Sava's relies to Belgrade and burnt them in Vracar in 1595.


Monastery Mileseva is famous for its fine frescoes which are considered as the most beautiful in the world. 

In the Monastery there are portraits of the first Namanjics and among them is a portrait of St Sava. This portrait was pointed in his lifetime. 

Monastery Mileseva is world famous for the fresco of the white angel on Christ's tomb.



Two kilometers from Pec, at the entrance to the Rugovo gorge, stands the Patriarchate of Pec. The monastery church is really a complex of four churches built side by side and three of them are now integrated into a single structure. The oldest, the Church of the Holy Apostles, was built in the mid- 13th century by Serbia's second archbishop, Arsenije. As soon as the construction was completed, Arsenije ordered the seat of the archbishopric to be transferred there from Zica. Early in the 14th century, with about 10 years between the construction of each, new churches were built on either side of the one already existing - the Church of St. Demetrius to the north, and the Church of the Virgin with the small Church of St. Nicholas to the south. Finally, a narthex was built on the western side joining together all three of the larger churches.

The frescoes in these churches belong to various periods. The oldest, in the sub-dome of the Church of the Holy Apostles, date back to the time of its construction, the first half of the 13th century. In forceful expression, general concept and size, they belong to the 13th century monumental painting with its clearly defined features (Studenica, Mileseva, Sopocani). In the dome, the apostles, angels and the Assumption of the Virgin are very impressive. The paintings in the front of the church are from the 14th century, and closely related to the frescoes in the Church of St. Clemence in Ohrid. A small portion of the frescoes in this part of the church belong to the 17th century.

Most of the frescoes in the Church of St. Demetrius were painted by the master painter Jovan, who left his signature, in Greek, in the altar area where it can still be seen. These works differ considerably from those of the 13th century and those of the Milutin period. Particularly characteristic is the artist's evident devotion to detail. The Handmaid with the Jug, a detail in The Birth of the Virgin of the altar apse, has become well-known in the art world for the figure's charm and its classical beauty.

The monastery treasury housed in the Church of St. Demetrius, includes a number of icons, volumes in manuscript and gold and silver items. The icons were made in the Pec workshop, which was particularly active in the second half of the 16th century.



The old town core of Prizren has survived and is now being carefully preserved. At one time, Prizren was the capital of the early Serbian state, and what remains of the walls of the fortress on the hill above the town dates back to those medieval times. However, the most notable monument in the town is undoubtedly the former Cathedral Church of Lady Ljeviska, built in 1307 on the foundations of a destroyed Byzantine basilica. The frescoes in the church were painted by Astrapa and Nikola, who also appear to have been tits architects. A long text on the ceiling of the open exo-narthex represents, in fact, notes about their work. Although only a few of the frescoes still remain, they are cherished as treasures of the early Serbian art. Their outstanding feature is bold, lovely coloring in strong, though well complemented greens, reds, yellows and blues.

Sinan-pasha's Mosque, with its very tall and slender minaret, is the most beautiful among the 20 or so mosques in Prizren. It was built in 1615.

Also belonging to the Turkish period is a well-preserved Turkish bath, now housing an art gallery, and a stone bridge across the Bistrica River.


Soon after the Marica battle (1371), the Holy Mountain (Mountain Athos) fell under the Turks as well, first in 1387. (1393)-1403, and then finally in 1430. So Hilandar, even before Kosovo, found itself in the area of the Turkish conquering, and under the Turkish rule for the whole thirty years before the final fall of Serbia (1459). Indeed, the Turks didn’t touch the autonomy of the Holy Mountain, so not in the independence of the Holy Mountain monasteries, but soon the conditions for the survival of the monasteries changed. The previous reliable support in the Orthodox Christian countries of the Balkans was lost, so the economic conditions became harder. That process, indeed, didn’t happen all of a sudden, but gradually and slowly, following the destiny of the Balkan countries – speaking of Hilandar, the destiny of Serbian country. When Byzantine (1453) and Serbian states (1459) fell, the previous connection between Hilandar and the deeper orthodox backing. For Hilandar, as well as for the whole Holy Mountain, a new historic period began.

The Turkish conquering, immediately after the Marica battle and during the first occupation of the Holy Mountain, especially after 1430, caused bigger movements of the Holy Mountain monks, even their leaving the Holy Mountain. While the ex-rulers and landowners, as well as the church noblemen, found an asylum in the Holy Mountain monasteries, the Holy Mountain staff escaped to the north. Before the fall of the Despot state, anyway. Violence and a full law uncertainty ruled in the whole area. Regardless to the fact that the sultan Mehmed III confirmed the old freedom for the Holy Mountain monasteries by a special fir man, the people of the Holy Mountain shared the destiny of all the orthodox monks that fell under the Turkish rule. There are many stirring written testimonies of the Holy Mountain monks about the Turks’ violence that shouldn’t be considered “exaggerated”.


The monastery of Hilandar played an important role in the development of Serbian literacy and literature in the Middle Age. Of course, there had been some books written in the Serbian language even before Hilandar was founded, far way from Hilandar in Serbian countries, probably since the 10th century. But only the Holy Mountain, thank to the symbiosis of the Greek and Slav monks, became the place where the Byzantine sources and the Serbian literature got connected in a continuous, live contact. At the time of foundation of Hilandar in 1198, the Russian literacy ruled in the Holy Mountain monasteries as a work of copying and probably translating. The first Serbian monks from Hilandar learnt from the Russians and Greeks, taking the translations of theological books and church service books, though it shouldn’t be forgotten that there may have existed a direct connection with the literature and literacy centers of the Serbian countries, where most of the Hilandar monks came from.

saint sava
Saint Sava

Sava Nemanjic, St. Sava (1174-1235)

The first Serbian archbishop and writer, the youngest son of Stefan Nemanja; his name was Rastko. Around 1192 he went to the Holy Mountain in a Russian monastery, where he became a monk and took the name - Sava. When his father Nemanja, became a monk, he came the Holy Mountain and erected the monastery of Hilandar together with Sava. Nemanja took the name - Simeon.

saint sava1
Saint Sava
  • Because of Sava’s work, Hilandar became the center of literature and church education of the Medieval Serbian monks; then, he went to Karea, and wrote, both for it and for Hilandar, the Church Constitution. After Nemanja’s death, there was a Civil war between Sava’s brothers Vukan and Stefan, which made Sava come back to Serbia in 1208 and make peace between brothers.

Saint Sava& Saint Simeon

saint sava2
Saint Sava
  • As a very good diplomat, he took part in the political life of Serbia, helping the centralistic politics of his brother, the King Stefan the First Crowned; he went to Nikeia, where the Tsar and the Patriarch agreed to give the Serbian church independence, and he was its first archbishop (1219). Upon returning to Serbia, he proclaimed the monastery of Zica the seat of the archbishop territory, divided the country into 8 parts and placed only Serbs to be episcopes.

Saint Sava in Hilandar

saint sava3
Saint Sava
  • As the first Serbian writer, with his translations of church books, he enabled the making of Serbian literature language. He wrote biography of his father Stefan Nemanja. The biography is an important resource for studying the history of that time. He died on Epiphany in Trnovo, Bulgaria, in 1236. King Vladislav brought his body to the monastery of Mileseva. After 359 years, Sinan pasha burnt his bones in Vracar in Belgrade, but the spirit of saint Sava became livelier among Serbs since then.
  • In Belgrade, in Vracar, Serbian Orthodox church built the biggest orthodox temple on the Balkans, dedicated to Saint Sava.
  • On the 27th January every year, schools celebrate the Day of Saint Sava.

The temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade

The celebration in one school

vuk stefanovic karadzic 1787 1864
Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic(1787-1864)

Born in Trsic. All the children born before him in the family died, so his parents gave him the name, Vuk (Wolf) because they wanted to stop dying of their children.

Known as a big reformer of Serbian language. His greatest achievement is making of Serbian Cyrillic alphabet. He introduced the rule: WRITE AS YOU SPEAK, READ AS IT’S WRITTEN. Serbian Cyrillic letters are different from Russian or Bulgarian ones.

Serbian Cyrillic letters

vuk stefanovic karadzic
Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic

Self-educated, after the fall of Serbia (1813) he met a Slovenian scientist, Jernej Kopitar, in Vienna, who encouraged him to collect folk poems and literature, as well as to work on the language and grammar. Soon after that, he published the first GRAMMAR and that was the foundation for new Serbian literature, language and grammar; in 1818 he published DICTIONARY, and at the same time he collected stories, proverbs, riddles, wrote historical testimonies, dealt with ethnography; he edited the almanac called DANICA and worked on introducing Serbian folk treasure and Serbian past to other countries. His work made a big influence on other Yugoslavian people. As a consequence of new attitudes, THE LITERATURE AGREEMENT was made in Vienna in 1850 , where the representatives of Serbian and Croatian cultural life agreed upon introducing one language in both nations.