Nestled on the steep slopes of Ovčar and Kablar mountains lies a unique community of monasteries built in the 14th and 15th centuries.The monasteries were built by monks and builders who sought refuge in this inhospitable gorge, as they retreated from the invading Ottoman Turkish forces.Among the ten monasteries in the Ovčar-Kablar gorge, the most notable ones are Sretenje, Nikolje, Sveta Trojica and Blagoveštenje.
Nestled just beneath the peak of Ovčar mountain, Sretenje Monastery (Monastery of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus) lies at the highest altitude, above sea level, of all monasteries in the Ovčar-Kablar region.It is unknown who built this monastery or when it was built, although there are records which show it was razed for the first time in the 17th century. The monastery was reconstructed in the early 19th century and the whole monastery complex was subsequently fortified by a wall.Inside the building, there is a marble slate with a rose ornament dating back to the 17th century, several books in manuscript and fragments of frescoes and the altar area from the period.
Nikolje Monastery was built by monks who fled Mount Athos before the invading Ottoman army. As the first mention of it was recorded in the 15th century, it is believed to be the oldest monastery of the group.This miniscule monastery was built from crushed stone. Interestingly, unlike most Serbian monasteries, Nikolje does not have a dome. The monastery used to have an orthography school and provided refuge to Serbian rebels after the crush of the First Serbian Uprising in 1813.
It saw major revival during the reign of Prince Miloš, in 1817. This was followed by another major reconstruction 40 years later, when a dormitory, one of the most beautiful examples of folk architecture of the period, was built near the monastery.
Blagoveštenje Monastery (Monastery of the Annunciation) is representative of the available means and artistic tastes of the monastic community in the first half of the 17th century, both in terms of architecture and ground elevation as well as the preserved frescoes, icons and the stone and wood furniture. Towering above the monastery’s massive limestone and sandstone walls is a dome made of chiselled natural stone and wooden roofs.
The 16th century Sveta Trojica Monastery (Monastery of the Holy Trinity) is considered to be the most beautiful of all monasteries in the Ovčar-Kablar gorge. Its church was built in the Serbian-Byzantine style, with the rectangular cantor’s stand and the five-sided apse in the altar area leaning against the central section of the monastery, while the crossed-arch dome is supported by four pilasters.To the north of the church there is a dormitory made of crushed stone, bearing witness to the heights of local folk architecture. Only fragments of the frescoes inside Sveta Trojica monastery still remain, with only two frescoes from the first half of the 17th century still intact.