The monastery of Banjska, with its church dedicated to St Stephen, is located in a town of the same name, 15 km north west of Kosovska Mitrovica. It was raised between 1312 and 1316 by King Milutin to serve as his endowment and mausoleum. During Turkish times, a fortification sprang up on the ruins of Banjska, and the church itself was turned into a mosque, and remained so until 1914.
Besides the church, the monastery complex comprised defensive towers, a refectory and a range of structures which were altered numerous times over the centuries. In accordance with the benefactor’s wishes the church was patterned on the Church of the Mother of God at Studenica. All the external walls are decorated in massive and beautifully cut stone blocks of white and red marble and grey serpentine.
Banjska and Studenica are also linked by the similarity of their sculptural ornamentation, which are a synthesis of the Byzantine and Romanesque styles. Banjska had a lavish western portal, decorated with marble sculptures. Dominating this feature was a sculpture of the Mother of God with Christ, now located in the church in the nearby village of Sokolica.
It is located on the territory of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija which is currently under the administration of UNMIK (the UN Interim Mission in Kosovo). The monastery can only be visited under military escort by KFOR troops.