Manasija

Manasija monastery is situated by the Resava brook, close to Despotovac, and is one of the last monuments to Serbian mediaeval culture. The church was raised by Despot Stefan Lazarević, son of Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović. The construction of the church, an extravagant fortification and large refectory took from 1406 to 1418.

The impressive walls with 11 towers, surrounded by a trench, would at that time have been a modern system for the defence of the monastery. The most dominant and most imposing tower – the keep – is known as Despotova Kula (Despot’s Tower). The castle was entered via a large gate on the western side.

The Church of the Holy Trinity is considered a prime example of Morava architecture. A particular rarity in Serbian mediaeval architecture is the mosaic floor.

The frescoes in Manasija, together with those in Kalenić, are the most beautiful of the Morava properties and are considered among the best in old Serbian art in general. Besides the monumental depictions of warriors in the choir transept, especially beautiful are the prophets pictured in the dome, as well as the idealised depiction of Despot Stefan Lazarević presenting a model of the church to the Holy Trinity.

Besides monastery churches and fortifications, Manasija partially preserves the remains of the old refectory and library. The library housed a scriptorium in which numerous books were copied for church use. The so-called “Resava orthography” was greatly valued and was to influence later scribes for some time to come.