Kosovo and Metohia

Visoki Decani Monastery is situated in the western part of the UN administered Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohia. It was built between 1327 and 1335 by the Serbian medieval king St. Stephen of Decani and was dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord. The monastery is settled in the picturesque valley of the Bistrica river surrounded by the mountains and forests of the Prokletije mountain range It is the largest and best preserved medieval monastery in Serbia. During its turbulent history the Monastery was an important spiritual centre with developed artistic and intellectual activities. Although the monastery buildings suffered damage from the Turkish occupation, the church has been completely preserved with beautiful 14th century fresco paintings. Today a young brotherhood of 30 brethren lives in the monastery continuing the centuries old tradition of the past. The brotherhood has developed various activities: wood carving, icon painting, book publishing and is also active in the missionary work. The beautiful monastic services are served according to the typicon of Mount Athos.

The Decani Brotherhood
The Brotherhood of the Visoki Decani Monastery, November 2002
larger image 720x540

The Monastery has survived after the Kosovo war (1998-2000) and the Brotherhood today lives as an isolated Serbian Orthodox island among hostile Kosovo Albanian Moslem population. This holy site survives only thanks to the protection of Italian forces which have blocked every access to the monastery. Beside all this the Monastery still attracts many international visitors from the UN Mission and KFOR. Thanks to KFOR military convoys occasionally the monastery is visited also by Serb pilgrims from Kosovo and Central Serbia.

From WIKIPEDIA  the free encyclopedia

Visoki Dečani Monastery is a major Serbian Orthodox monastery, situated in Metohija, 12 km south from the town of Pec. Its cathedral is the biggest medieval church in the Balkans which contains the largest preserved monument of Byzantine fresco-painting.

The monastery was established in a chestnut grove by king Stefan Dečanski in 1327. Its original founding charter is dated to 1330, however. Next year the king died and was buried at the monastery, which henceforth became his popular shrine. The construction activities were continued by his son Stefan Dusan until 1335, but the wall-painting was not completed until 1350.

The cathedral, dedicated to Christ Pantocrator and built from blocks of red-purple, light-yellow and onyx marble, was constructed by master-builders under the Franciscan monk Vitus of Kotor. It is distinguished from other contemporary Serbian churches by its imposing dimensions and obvious Romanesque features. Its celebrated frescoes comprise some 1000 portraits and cover all major themes of the New Testament. The cathedral contains original 14th-century wooden iconostasis, hegumen's throne and carved sarcophagus of king Stefan.

In 2004, UNESCO listed the monastery on the World Heritage List, citing its frescoes as "one of the most valued examples of the so-called Palaeologan renaissance in Byzantine painting" and "a valuable record of the life in the 14th century". 

Evaluation by the World Heritage Committee


UNESCO's decision to include Visoki Decani Monastery on the World Heritage List is happy and encouraging news for our entire people, as well as a great recognition for our monastery, which is a pearl of medieval Serbian Christian art.

For centuries Decani with its medieval Romanic architecture and Byzantine Serbian frescoes has been the bridge that connected peoples and cultures, attesting that the sublimity, spirituality and beauty of artistic creations supercedes transient values and political conflicts.

Decani continues in this role today. Although a Serbian Orthodox monastery built by the Holy King Stefan of Decani at the beginning of the 14th century and a part of the Serbian cultural heritage, Visoki Decani is also a part of the local cultural heritage of Kosovo and Metohija and should be the pride and responsibility of all residents of this region regardless of their ethnicity or religious affiliation.

For this reason we believe that the addition of the monastery of Visoki Decani to the UNESCO World Heritage List will make it possible to better protect our holy shrine during these difficult times for future generations and to serve as a bridge to more easily connect and reconcile the people living in Kosovo and Metohija. We must all be aware that spiritual and cultural values supercede political conflicts and that they transcend narrow national and territorial boundaries. My brethren and I therefore feel it is a great honor that we have the privilege of serving God in this holy place despite the fact that we are living through what may be the most difficult times in the history of this monastery.

The attitude toward Decani as part of the world cultural heritage, as well as the attitude toward other Christian monuments, will be the indicator to what extent local society is ready to accept European and world cultural and civilizational values; hence, we expect greater understanding and support of all people of good will, especially the Kosovo Albanians. I sincerely hope that the sense of responsibility and awareness will prevail among them that a future in Europe and the civilized world cannot be built on the ashes of churches and destruction of Christian culture which through the centuries survived numerous occupations and campaigns of destruction

INTERVIEW - March 20, 2002

An Interview with Abbot Theodosije Fr. Teodosije speaks about the post-war life at Decani Monastery and the future of the Serb Orthodox people in Kosovo and Metohija

An interview with Fr. Sava from Decani Monastery on post-war life of Kosovo Serbs, Herald of Kosovo and Metohija, March 15, 2002

Decani Monastery photo from the air for your desktop background
Click on the photo below and download the large size photo 1000 x 750 (256 Kb)

Fresco paintings of Visoki Decani Monastery - jewels of the 14th century art

Visoki Decani Monastery, the first cultural monument on the territory of Kosovo Province, to be inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage has long been known as one of the architecturally most interesting and best preserved Serbian medieval churches in which traditions of Romanesque architecture meet artistic patterns of the Byzantine world. However, Decani Monastery paintings were often regarded as of lesser artistic value to frescoes in some other Serbian Monasteries in Raska and Kosovo regions. The most recent photographing of the entire fresco-painting of Decani Monastery has revealed a beauty of fresco painting which has so far largerly remained unnoticed in academic and iconographic circles. In this edition of the ERP KIM Info-service Newsletter we are presenting only some of the most beautiful fresco compositions which decorate walls of the Decani Monastery church. The Monastery and the NGO MNEMOSYNE from Belgrade are working currently on publishing of a large and richly illustrated Monography of the Decani Monastery which will present the artistic values of this holy shrine to the wider public.


More about the art of Visoki Decani Monastery:


Decani Monastery HOME PAGE at kosovo.net:


Decani Monastery In Photos
Get the know the life of the monastery from these photo galleries.

 The Holy Site
The Holy Site
 In the Church
In the church
 Everyday Duties
Everyday Duties
 The Icon Studio
Icon Studio

Decani Monastery Winter Gallery - Photos of Decani Monastery under the snow

Decani Monastery Old Photo Album
- Old monastery photographs from the beginning of the 20th century.


Quick Time Panorama Tour - ENTER
each separate panorama tour is up to 400KB
and can be easily accessed with a click on a panoramamap
(we owe special gratitude to Danilo Jurisic
who helped us with these tours)

For slower servers you can view the panorama photo

For those visitors who do not have a quick time plug in or are restricted by slower connection
we suggest visiting our photo panorama tours

Decani Church in Panorama Tours

If you do not have QUICK TIME 5.0 PLUG-IN you may download it HERE

The Art of Decani

Visoki Decani monastery is well know for it great artistic beauty and value. Almost intact after 600 years the Monastery Church still survives with its 14th century frescoes and icons.

Decani Monastery
Fresco Paintings

Images from a night vigil at Decani Monastery
photographer Dragan Tanasijevic

History of Decani Monastery

Short History of Decani Monastery The History of Decani monastery has always been very turbulent. This short essay is an attempt to present our rich history in a concise and easy readable way to our visitors.

Phostos from the Feast of St. King Stefan of Decani Nov 24 2001- On this feast of St. King Stefan 4 new monks received monastic tonsure and got new monastic names: Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.

The Monastery During the War - A Safe Haven For all

NYT, Monastic Refuge For Kosovars, June 16, 2000
AP, Serb Monastery Protects All Peoples, June, 17, 2000
KRN, Decani Monks' Courage Saved Lives of Many Kosovars, June 23, 2000
During the worst times of the civil war in Kosovo Decani monastery was a safe haven for the people of all ethnicities.

Real Video
BBC Report on the role of Decani monks during the war
Saved by the Monks of Decani, BBC, June 17, 1999
Ethnic Albanians near Pec owe their lives to the Serb Orthodox monks of the Decani monastery who shielded them from rampaging Serb paramilitaries.

Post-War Life of Decani Monastery - Despite its humanitarian role during the war in which the brotherhood saved lives of many Kosovo Albanians, today's Albanian community in general still remains hostile to the monastery as well as to the Orthodox Christian Church in general. Decani monastery is exposed to various kinds of pressures, threats, hate speech and most preposterous infamation.

KFOR Commander gen. Skiaker visited Decani Monastery, Aug 30 2001 "I see the Monastery as a symbol of humanity and of resistance against violence." gen. Skiaker

Photo - Two Decani monks in a stroll past the NATO tanks in front of the
monastery, 2001

Leaving the monastery under  guard Traveling only under KFOR escort

Traveling only under KFOR escort in Italian military vehicles - After the Kosovo war 1998-1999 it is impossible for the monks and Serb visitors to the monastery to travel freely out of the monastery except under a KFOR military escort (click on the photo for a larger size image)

History is repeating - a Turkish escort ready to give protection to the
visitors of the Monastery beg. XX c. During the XIXc and in the beginning of XX c. the terror of the local Albanian clans was such that it was impossible to travell without armed escort
(Read the testimony of Edith Mary Durham 1904)

The monastery, which lies about 1500 feet above sea-level, appeared as a white church surrounded by outbuildings at the entrance of a magnificently wooded valley, through which flows a small river, the Dechanski Bistritza, the one slope rich with stately chestnuts and the other fir-clad. Robbed of its broad lands, which have been swooped on by the Albanians, who at the time of my visit made further progress up the valley impossible, it lies precariously on the bloody edge of things, and only the wonderful white marble church tells of its former glory. It was being used as a military outpost, and twenty-five Nizams and an officer were quartered on the monastery, which had also a guard of its own, a set of Mohammedan Albanians, who were said to be very loyal. They looked like a wild-beast show, spoke nothing but Albanian, had the most elegant manners, and I was never allowed outside the monastery gate without a couple of them. (Through the Land of the Serb, M.E. Durham 1904, London)

Decani in autumn
Decani Monastery in autumn
In the early morning I will praise thee, o Lord

Interior of the church


E-mail: decani@web-sat.com

The Life of St. King Stephen of Decani
The impressions of Decani Monastery

Introduction to the History of Kosovo and Metohia

The Spiritual and Cultural Heritage of
Kosovo and Metohia


HOLY RELICS OF DECANI MONASTERY - Decani Monastery is known for many holy and miraculous relics of the saints. The most important relics are of St. King Stefan of Decani, whose body has been preserved whole and incorruptible. In the treasury also the incorruptible hand of St. Nicetas the Goth (4th) century and the jaw-bone of St. Gregory of Nyssa (4 cent) are preseverd and are venerated on important feastdays. This link lead you to the page with photos of the most important relics of Visoki Decani Monastery

The relics of St. NIcetas the Goth, 4cent
The relics of St. Gregory of Nyssa, 4 cent.


Fr. Teodosije visitina refugee family
Fr. Teodosije, the Abbot of Decani Monastery visiting a Kosovo Serb refugee family
The monastery takes care of many refugee families from Decani area which temporarily reside in Central Serbia and Montenegro living in hard ecconomic conditions.

Decani Monastery Relief Fund
Learn more about the efforts of the Decani Monastery and its friends in US to support the suffering in Kosovo with assistance of our friends and donors from all over the world.

Chanting of Decani monks in mp3 stream audio

Photos from the Decani Web Site on Google
Easy searchable thumbnail gallery


full frameset

/ Decani / Gracanica / Sopocani / Pecka Patrijarsija /
/ Crna Reka / Devic / Sv. Vraci / Sv. Arhangeli /
/ Sv. Trojica / Sokolica / Gorioc / Binac /
/Draganac / Djurdjevi StupoviDuboki Potok / Koncul

Banjska / Dolac / Budisavci / St. Mark / Korisa
Hvostanska / Ubozac
/ Kmetovci / St. Uros