The Narthex

The narthex and the chapel of St. Nicholas

Narthex. Entrance to the church of the Holy Apostles
with the patriarchal throne

Interior of the narthex, lookiin south. Frescoes from 1565
and at the end from 1330

Church of the Holy Apostles, 13th century

Church of the Holy Apostles. Looking from the entrance
towards the iconostasis and the sanctuary

Church of the Holy Apostles. Looking from the iconosstasis
and the sanctuary towards the entrance

Church of the Holy Apostles. Scenes of the Passion,
Mother of Mercy and St. Nicholas

Church of the Holy Apostles - Deisis in the apse, 13th century

Church of the Holy Apostles. Tomb of Archbishop Sava II (13th c)
fresco above the tomb was restored in 1633-34

Church of the Holy Apostles - Christ 1346 circa

Church of St. Demetrius, 14th century

Church of St. Demetrius (Since 1999 it is a site of a permament
exibition of desecrated and damaged icons, church books,
crosses and other works of art from desecrated Serb churches in
Kosovo and Metohija

Theotokos (Mother of God) between Archbishop Daniel
and St. Nicholas, circa 1330

Church of the Mother of God, 14th century

Church of the Mother of God - view from the entrance
towards the sanctuary

Church of the Mother of God - Holy Theotokos in throne
between two angels, circa 1330

Church of the Mother of God - Tomb of Archbishop Daniel 1337

Chapel of St. Nicholas, 14th century

Chapel of St. Nicholas, interior, 14th century
Frescoes are from the 17th century


The Patriarchate of Pec is a group of medieval churches built in 13th and 14th century, near Pec, along the river Pecka Bistrica. It contains four churches: St. Apostles church, St. Demetrios church, the church of the Holy Mother Hodegetria, St. Nicholas church and the grand parvis.

Serbian archbishops have for centuries ruled and were buried there. They were gathering educated people and artistic talented monks who preserved and decorated Serbian archbishops' headquarters, so that active artistic work has existed continually from 13th till 18th century.

The first capital of Serbian archbishops was the St. Salvation church in Zica. It was very close to Serbian mediaeval state's north border. As it was exposed to danger of wars very often, according to first archbishop St. Sava's wish, second archbishop, Arsenije, moved the headquarters to Pec. Pec was in protected mountain area, on the edge of a fertile plateau - today's Metohija. The new archbishopric church - the St. Apostles church was finished around year 1250.

Today's church's look partly differs from the original. The east and central part remained unchanged. Altar is wide and deaconry was added there next to the both sides of apse. There is a wide, lower dome on the cubic pedestal, above the "naos", central part of the Church. There are choir at the north and south part. They were partly remodeled. The west part of the church is unusually wide, and it could be the consequence of rebuilding in the 13th century. The outside walls of the church once were plastered and decorated with painted ornaments, which is much damaged now.

Frescoes from the period from 13th till 18th century are preserved in the St. Apostles' church. They are in the Altar, dome and upper zones of area under dome. Some of them differ by their monumentality and condition of preservation: "Deices" with the Christ on the throne in Altar and composition with "Christ's Ascension" in the dome. The most reputable Serbian saint, St. Sava and his heir Arsenije were portrayed in the little apse with obvious intention to show their importance. There are scenes from Christ's life and events after his death presented in the area under the dome. According to tradition, those events took place in Zion, so it was considered that the church and frescoes' iconography were made on the pattern of the famous Zion Temple in Jerusalem. Those frescoes, as well as "Apostles' communion", "Lazarus' resurrection" and figures of Evangelists, are partially saved. Fresco painting by the anonymous artists characterizes full but somewhat repressed colors and well-regulated contrasts. Frescoes in the choir - "Nine holly warriors", St. Sava and St. Nemanja as monarch, by their vividness, beauty of colors and lengthiness of figures, presage the new style in painting - the Moravska school.

The St. Demetrios church is foundation of archbishop Nikodim. It was built in the period between 1320 and 1324 and was placed on the north side of the St. Apostles church. It looks very much like the St. Apostles church. The basic shape is concise inscribed cross, dome is wide and the altar area is unusually big. There are rare, preserved examples of Serbian medieval sculpture in this church. The entrance of the church is framed with stone portal, precisely carved in the classicist style, with floral and ornamental motives. "Bifora" - two-part window on the apse of the church was made in a simpler manner. As it was made on the gothic art pattern, it is supposed to be made later, during the 1340's. The original stone iconostasis is also well preserved. It is almost three meters high, decorated with shallow carved ornaments and still has remains of red and blue color. Frescoes in the St. Demetrios church present the series of St. Demetrios and the "Grand holidays". In the dome, there is the "Christ's Ascension", painted after those in the St. Apostles church, and also, there are portraits of St. Sava, the emperor Dusan and his son Uros.

Two painters painted frescoes; one of them was signed by his name Jovan. His name written in Greek, is in the apse, and tells us that he probably came from Salonika in Greece. He had standard theological education, but he painted after the antique model, with the sense for fine proportions. The second one, the anonymous painter, was inclined to narrative. He doesn't pay much attention to the beauty of form, but his characters are very expressive.

From 1621 to 1622 Georgije Mitrofanovic, the famous master from Hilandar, partially repaired paintings on the north wall and in altar, but his frescoes are not as successful as those from the 14th century.

Holy Mother of God Hodegetria church is the memorial of the archbishop of Pec Danilo II. It was built next to south wall of St. Apostles church around year 1330. The church basis has a shape of developed inscribed cross. The octagonal lower dome is placed on free pillars, which separate the temple into three parts, down, by vertical axis. Walls made of stone and bricks, were initially plastered, and then painted with floral decoration. There are two beautiful gothic windows on the altar apse and south wall.

All frescoes in this church date from 1340's. The life of the Mother of God is presented on the walls. There are also "Grand holidays", series dedicated to John the Precursor and two portraits of the founder, Danilo II. The frescoes that present archbishop Arsenije becoming a deacon, presbyter and his death, by its iconography differ from the others. Those frescoes are not at the highest artistic level, but their importance is in illustrating the Serbian church's efforts to promote the reputation of its archbishops and the first founder of the Patriarchate.

Danilo II built the parvis during the 1340's. The parvis was initially opened at three sides. There were five pilasters inside, and two semi-rounded vaults were placed on them. The parvis was wide and tall, beautifully lightened and decorated with frescoes.

In 1560 during reconstruction, it's arc openings were sealed up because of dilapidation; there was danger for parvis to collapse. The marble "St. Sava's throne" where chiefs of the Serbian church were sitting, conducting the church congregations, is there.

A small number of preserved frescoes from 14th century are very interesting by their theme. There is a family three of Nemanjics painted on the east wall. All reputable members of the ruling family are presented, from the founder, Stefan Nemanja to that days' king (later emperor) Dusan. There were saints among the members of the Nemanjic dynasty, as well as mighty sovereigns and church chiefs.

Completely preserved frescoes are made after the reconstruction of Pec Patriarchate in 1565. Andreja the "zoograph" directed painters among whom was Longin, who was later to become a famous painter. Except the portrait of Makarije the founder, there are also frescoes presenting the scenes of Christ's life, as well as many previous Serbian archbishops and patriarchs.

The painters from the 14th century that worked in Pec parvis were the best painters of the epoch. Although they did not achieve the artistic value of their predecessors from the 12th century, they tended to repeat their iconography and style. That shows the tendency after the reconstruction of Serbian church organization to bind art and tradition of artistic creation from the period of the most successful rise of Serbian medieval state.

The St. Nicholas church was built by the order of archbishop Danilo II at the same time when the church of the Mother of God and parvis were being built. It is a one-part building made of stone and bricks with three-side apse outside. A Semi-rounded vault supported by an arc placed on pillars covers the church.

It is believed the church was painted in 14th century, but today's preserved frescoes in St. Nicholas' church date from 1673 to 1674. A famous painter of the time, named Radul, painted them, following directions of patriarch Makarije. There are portraits of the founders and resPected saints: Stefan Nemanja, archbishops Sava the first, Arsenije the first and Danilo the second. The other frescoes present the life of St. Nicholas in 25 scenes.

The treasury of the Patriarchate of Pec was one of the richest treasuries in the Serbian medieval state. Most of the precious pieces are ruined. Among preserved objects there are some that differ by their beauty. Some of them are the icons presenting the holy healers Cosmas and Damian and St. Paraskeva, and crosses from the 18th and 19th century covered with gold and made in filigree technique. There are also belts made of metal, mother-of-pearl and silver, bindings of hand written books, as well as the oldest Cyrillic book of whole Balkans - the "Octoich Petoglasnika", completed in Cetinje at the beginning of 1494.