".....have  no  castles   from  our  past,  but  churches  and  monasteries   have  been  sown  all  over. 
The  churches  and monasteries  were  like  personal  homes   to  everyone - rulers  and  shepherds, 
literate  and  illiterates,  heroes and commoners...."


King's Church
Under Infidel Rule


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Founder's portrait of Stefan Nemanja, the Serbian Grand Prince ("Veliki Zupan"), who ruled from 1168 to 1196, then abdicted to become the monk Simeon and retire to his foundation, Studenica. Fresco: 1568, west bay of the nave, church of Virgin Mary.

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St. Sava, son of Stefan Nemanja, abbot of Studenica c. 1207 to 1214, and later first archbishop of the autocephalous Serbian archbishopic (1219-1233).
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Sava, canonized as a saint, died in 1236. Right: St Simeon Nemanja, fresco, c. 1313/1314, the nave, King's church.


View of the altar area, enclosed by a high iconostasis of later date.
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The altar screen can be approximatively reconstructed with the aid of some preserved fragments and traces. Like the altar area itself, the screen which stood in front of its central part followed the customary design in contemporary Byzantine architecture. The royal doors in the middle of the screen were flanked by small stone columns. To their left and right were closure slabs, forming a low wall.


West wall of the nave of the church of the Virgin Mary, viewed from the eastern side. In the centre is the doorway between the nave and Nemanja's narthex.

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Recent studies have focussed on the actual solutions adopted, previous iconography analysis having given modest results, mostly going no further than the generalities of Western European and Byzantine art. Attention has been paid to the west front, particularly the splendid main portal, but also to the two-light windows and small consoles beneath the arcading.


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There are two thematic wholes in the portal sculpture, one comprising the tympanum and inner frame, and the other the outer frame. The tympanum contains the patron of the church, the Virgin Mary enthroned with Christ on her lap and flanked by two angels, identified in a Serbian Cyrillic inscription as the archangels Michael and Gabriel. The Virgin is presented as she appears in Byzantine paintings in the semi-dome of the apse.
On the inner side of the portal frame are the relief figures of Christ (on the lintel) and the apostles (on the piers), symbolizing Christ’s Second Coming.


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Apart from the main portal, the three-light window on the central apse, remarkable for its refined conception and beauty of workmanship, is the finest single feature of the church of the Virgin Mary. Four colonnettes support the round arches above the apertures and the tympanum. The window is framed by a broad band of relief ornamentation and has decorated frieze below it. On both sides of the lower part of the window stand consoles in the form of seated human figures, as if part of an uncompleted or subsequently destroyed outer frame, which may have consisted of two colonnettes and wide projecting arcade.


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Those are mistaken who say that Kosovo stopped the wheel of our, Serbian, history and held us back. If it had not been for Kosovo, we would have been a
great nation today. It was Kosovo that made us a great nation. It is our Golghota; but it is at the same time our spiritual and moral resurrection.

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