Visoki Dečani, Metohija (Kosovo)

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UNESCO World Heritage  (since 2004)

It was a dog that welcomed me with a loud barking. The soldiers around the green jeep with Italian flag on it looked at me surprized and scolded the dog. I didn’t expect this in front of the monastery, because of which we travelled all around the young state of Kosovo. On the left of the Carabinieri I saw a small cabin painted in NATO camouflage scheme. The dog stretched out before the cabin, and continued to enjoy the June sun.

KFOR

KFOR

“Can you show me your ID card?”, asked me politely a soldier who had just got out of the cabin. But I wasn’t prepared for this, after the first checkpoint I had left the car for a little walk around the monastery, tired of the long journey. I had stupidly left my documents in the car and the car with my friends wasn’t there yet. Anyway, after a while they arrived and all our documents were collected. We were given a pass with labels of KFOR and NATO on it. The dogs were still lying lazy losing their curiosity to our small company which was hurrying to the main gate of the monastery. The jeep and the four carabinieri continued their patrol.

Манастир Високи Дечани / Visoki Dečani

Outside the place looks impressive with high stone walls around and a big wooden gate. In the middle stands the main monastery church. Because of this tall building the monastery was named „Високи“– “High”. The catholicon was the largest building in Medieval Serbia. Next to the monastery are well-ordered and covered with green leaves fruit gardens, and the extremely picturesque background of the Albanian Alps – Prokletije.

Манастир Високи Дечани / Visoki Dečani

Манастир Високи Дечани / Visoki Dečani

Inside the walls of Visoki Dečani

We stepped through the wooden gate and stopped at “the threshold”. We saw so much beauty in those well-arranged green gardens. Monks were walking around, occupied with their deeds. It was a quiet place without tourists. We were the only ones who interrupted the loneliness of the monastery’s yard. The main church (the catholicon), dedicated to Christ Pantocrator, is a regal and dignified monument for a Serbian King like other Serbian monasteries – Žiča and Studenitca.

Манастир Високи Дечани / Visoki Dečani

Манастир Високи Дечани / Visoki Dečani

Built in the early 14th century (for almost eight years between 1328 – 1335) the medieval monastery was a great enterprise of the Serbian King Stephen Uroš III Dečanski (1285 – 1331). It was constructed by builders working under the command of a Franciscan friar, Vitus of Kotor (a small town now in Montenegro – Kotor is a UNESCO world heritage site). The monastery was not finished during the Stephen’s lifetime and after his dead he was buried in the church.

The church in Visoki Dečani, Църквата във Високи Дечани

During World War I, the monastery’s treasures were plundered by the Austro-Hungarian Army, which occupied Serbia between 1915 and 1918. During WW2 Visoki Decani  fell within the territory of the Italian-ruled Albanian Kingdom and was targeted for destruction by the Albanian nationalist Balli Kombëtar and Italian fascist blackshirts. The Royal Italian Army responded by sending soldiers to protect the monastery.

The church in Visoki Dečani, Църквата във Високи Дечани

The most amazing things of this holy place are the well preserved frescoes and wall paintings from the 14th century. The church and the monastery are in UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger because of the difficult and unclear political relations in the region.

The church in Visoki Dečani, Църквата във Високи Дечани

Our little walk in the monastery’s yard, the cheerful spurting water from the water-fountain and the stunning picturesque view, all these things deserved the long trip and all these passed kilometres. So I can say that this place must be seen.

Water-fountain

Goodbye Visoki Dečani

It was a long Goodbye, the dogs again barked at us, they had forgot that we passed a couple of hours ago. Anyway the smiling soldiers immediately calmed them. In the cabin there were two soldiers and one local guy who said he was Albanian. We gave out some souvenirs, made some photos for memories, but finally we left this beautiful monastery because we had to make our long journey back to Skopje…

KFOR

Високи Дечани

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