The region of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija is comprised of two basins. The eastern basin got its name from the bird kos (blackbird) – Kosovo, while the western part of the territory was covered in metoh – properties owned by the Serbian Orthodox Church, hence the name Metohija.
The territory of what is now the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija was a focal point of the mediaeval Serbian state in its heyday at the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century. This is the reason why the endowments of Serbian rulers, nobility and high church officials have been preserved in Kosovo and Metohija in significant numbers.
The key cities, Peć, Prizren and Priština, were important political, church and economical centres, around which the majority of monasteries were founded. As towns developed on the remains of the urban settlements of ancient times, so numerous churches were raised on older Christian cultural sites, a common practice in the Byzantine Empire and the countries that gravitated towards it and that came out of the ruins of the Roman Empire.
Four properties in Kosovo and Metohija have been entered in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List under the common name Mediaeval Monuments in Kosovo: Dečani monastery (entered separately in 2004), the monasteries of the Patriarchate of Peć and Gračanica, as well as the Church of Our Lady of Ljeviš (2006).
These Serbian mediaeval monuments in Kosovo and Metohija have, as of 2006, also been entered on the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger because of the unstable security situation currently prevailing in this Serbian province, which is currently under the administration of UNMIK (the UN Interim Administration Mission). The monasteries can only be visited under military escort by KFOR troops.
INFORMATIONDiocese of Raška-Prizren www.eparhija-prizren.com