Within a narrow geographical region, in the Zapadna Morava river gorge, there lies a large group of monasteries, referred to popularly as the “Serbian Holy Mountain”. Most of the monasteries were built during the period of Turkish rule, when they had great historical, cultural and artistic value.
The oldest written sources tell of a highly industrious school of manuscript copying in the 16th century in the monasteries, and Vuk Karadžić relates that two of the monasteries (Blagoveštenje and Jovanje) had “towers for the writing of books”. The monasteries of Ovčar-Kablar were an important centre of artistic endeavour, evidenced by the fact that all the churches had painted frescoes and rood screens in the form of iconostases, which have been partially been preserved.
The original number of monasteries is unknown, but today there are ten. To the left of the Zapadna Morava, beneath Kablar, are the monasteries of Blagoveštenje, Ilinje, Nikolje, Uspenje i Jovanje, while beneath Ovčar are Sretenje, Sveta Trojica, Preobraženje, Vaznesenje and Vavedenje. Over time, many of the monasteries have been altered and restored. Due to the construction of a railway, Preobraženje was relocated. Jovanje was entirely rebuilt due to the construction of the Međuvršje hydroelectric power station, Vaznesenje was significantly restored and Ilinje and Uspenje were rebuilt in their former locations between the two world wars.
The most important monasteries (Blagoveštenje, Nikolje, Sretenje and Sveta Trojica) have been subjected to expert conservation measures and are protected as cultural monuments of great significance for the history and culture of Serbia.