In sign of the cross
Living in the sign of cross - Orthodox Monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija

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

Monasteries Patriarchate Monastery Devic Monastery Crna Reka Monastery Sopocani Monastery Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery Sokolica Monastery Gracanica Monastery Draganac Monastery Binac Monastery Sveti Vraci Monastery Holy Trinity Monastery Holy Archangels Monastery Duboki Potok Monastery Decani Monastery


The Diocese of Raska and Prizren can be rightfully called a monastic diocese because there is a great number of Medieval monasteries and lavras on its territory. It is very difficult to say exactly how many monasteries have been built in this Diocese since many of them were destroyed long ago and others have remained deserted up to the present day and are now without monastic life. With the arrival of His Grace Bishop Artemije to the throne of his predecessors a general renewal of the spiritual and ecclesiastic life in the diocese began, especially the renewal of monasticism. Certain monasteries in which older monks and nuns lived have been rejuvenated by the arrival of new brethren and sisters. At the same time many deserted monasteries have been reconstructed or completely rebuilt. 

The renewal of monasticism in the Diocese has both spiritual and material aspects. First of all a special attention was given to the restauration of coenobtic typicon (rule) and liturgical life. All are monasteries of the diocese are coenobia which means that monks or nuns live together as a common organism and no individual possesions or self-willed behaviour are allowed. The monastery is directed by a superior (abbot or abbess) and all members of the monastic community live in obedience to their elder. Bishop Artemije is the spiritual father of all the monastics of the diocese so that all monastic communities make one spiritual family united in spirit and purpose. All the monastic duties are performed strictly with the blessing of the superior according to talents and abilities community members. All the brethren or sisters take their active part in church services, common meals and various activities. The monasteries help one another and the special attention is paid to the strengthening of the spiritual ties between the monasteries. In the most of the monasteries a daily Liturgy is served together with a full daily liturgical cycle (midnight prayer, matins, hours, vespers and compline). Beside the communal prayer monks and nuns are obligatory to pray their personal rule in their cells as well as to devote a part of their time to reading of the spiritual literature.

The material renewal of the monastic life in the diocese consists of the reconstruction and repair of the existing buildings and the building of new residental quarters, churches and chapels. There is also a major emphasis on developing various monastic activities which will provide regular sources of income.

Sopocani Monastery
Sopocani Monastery

During the war in Kosovo 1998-1999 some monasteries suffered damage. But the systematic destruction of our holy sites began actually after the end of the war when more than 100 churches and monasteries were destroyed or desecrated. Among them are the monasteries of St. Cosmas and Damian in Zociste, the Holy Trinity Monastery in Musutiste the Binac monastery and the monastery of St. Mark. The monks and nuns from these monasteries had to leave and at the moment are in other monasteries of the Diocese. Two monks of our Diocese: hieromonk Stefan and monk Hariton were brutally murdered by Albanian extremists despite the presence of the NATO led peacekeepers.

The post war conditions of isolation and everyday threat from Albanian militants has not affected the interior spiritual life of the monastic communities which remain even more enthusiastic to bear witness of their faith in Lord Jesus Christ being ready to suffer death for the Lord if necessary. The monastic communities have shown great level of solidarity in these times not only amont themselves but also with the suffering people. Some monasteries sheltered the civilians of all ethnicities while others provide spiritual and missionary assistance to their suffering people. Since the regular telephone and internet lines are not available in all communities, monks and nuns share their own radio network exchanging information and keeping contact among themselves.

Bishop Artemy and his spiritual children
Bishop Artemy and his monks and nuns in Crna Reka Monastery, Aug 1998

Contrary to all malicious predictions the number of monks and nuns grew considerably after the war and at the moment around 200 monks and nuns live and pray in our monasteries. Once again in history it has become evident that the suffering and martyrdom is the best incentive to the monastic and spiritual life of Christians.

Beside the living monasteries or those which had been active prior to the war and were destroyed by Albanian militants there are monasteries which are in ruins since the Ottoman times. Some of them have been excavated and explored by archeologists but many of them still remain unrecovered and are known by records in the church and historical chronicles.

Historians assume that the number of Serb Orthodox churches and monasteries of all categories is around 1400 which is a remarkable number for a relatively small territory.

The monasteries of Raska and Prizren Diocese can be divided into 5 categories:

1. Active Monasteries:

Patriarchate of Pec

stauropegic monastery and does not belong administratively to our Diocese. It has nevertheless very strong ties with our other monasteries of the Kosovo and Metohija region.

Budisavci Metochion

1. Visoki Decani (m)
2. Sopocani (m)
3. Gracanica (f)
4. Crna Reka (m)
5. Holy Archangels (m)
6. Devic (f)
7. Sokolica (f)
8. Gorioc (f)
9. Draganac (m)
10. Koncul (f)
11. Duboki Potok (m)

12. Djurdjevi Stupovi (m)

2. Planned for full reconstruction:

1. Banjska monastery
The church has been partially reconstructed - building of the monastery is planned for future
2. Vracevo Monastery near Lesak
3. St. Barbara Monastery, near Sopocani

3. Monasteries which were active before the war and were destroyed in 1999

1. Holy Trinity (f)
2. St. Cosmas and Damian, Zociste (m)  
3. Binac (m)
4. St. Marko (m)

4. Monasteries in ruins before the war which were partially reconstructed or conserved after the WWII.

1. Bogorodica Hvostanska
2. Ubozac Monastery
3. Kmetovce Monastery
4. Korisa Monastery

5. Dolac (church destroyed in 1999)

6. St. Uros Monastery
(church destroyed in 1999)
7. Ajnovci Monastery

5. Unexcavated monasteries:

Dozens of other monasteries remain in ruins which have not been excavated or explored and are known only by record in historical documents.

With the spiritual grandfather
The monks with Bishop Artemije around the tomb of St. Justin of Celije, May 2002
Monks of Raska and Prizren Diocese in Pilgrimage to Central Serbian
Monasteries and Belgrade

Bearing a Cross of Suffering

The monasteries of the Raska and Prizren Diocese have suffered from various conquerors and enemies of the Serbian people for ages. Sacrilege and the destructionwere initiated by the Turks, and were continued by Moslem Albanians. During the World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1941-1945), many churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija were pillaged and shelled by Nazis and Albanians, as well as the other church destroyers and invaders. After World War II, devastation of Serbian Holy places Kosovo and Metohija was continued by local Albanians.

The Communist Government by no means protected Serbian Orthodox Church and its heritage: monastery property was nationalized, priests were persecuted, and the people of Serbia, who had been expelled from Kosovo and Metohija during World War II were prohibited return to their ancestral homes. However, the Serbian Orthodox Church, that is, the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, has remained the guardian of Kosovo and Metohija holy places and the spiritual heritage which had been created over the centuries, From St. Sava to the present day. Monasteries are the most credible witness of the spiritual being and the presence of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija region.

Chant of Serbian Orthodox monks from Kovilj Monastery

The Art of our Famous Monasteries

The Art of Decani MonasteryThe Art of Gracanica Monastery
The Art of the Patriarchate of PecThe Holy Virgin of Ljevis Cathedral
The Art of Banjska Monastery
The Art of the Holy Archangels' Monastery
The Foundation for the Protection of the Cultural Monuments of Serbia

To Understand Serbs - look at their art in Kosovo
By Waldemar Januszczak

Famous Serbian Medieval Monasteries


Crna Reka Monastery
Crna Reka Monastery like a fortress amidst the crags of South Serbian Mountains

Why Serbia's Elite are Willing to Give up Everything for God
The Times, March 7 2000

Post-War Life of Kosovo Serb Orthodox Monasteries


NYT, Monastic Refuge For Kosovars, June 16- 99
AP, Serb Monastery Protects All Peoples, June 17-99
KRN, Decani Monks' Courage Saved Lives of Many Kosovars, June 23-99
Chicago Tribune, Abbess Helps Serbs and Ethnic Albanians, June 23-99

NIN, Those Who Stayed
Bishop Artemije, his monks and nuns help Serbs to survive, Jan 27

Liturgical Life
Decani monastery photo galleries
The life of Decani monks in photos


NATO Turns the Blind Eye as Scores of Ancient Christian Churches
Are Reduced to Rubble, The Independent, UK, Nov 20, 99
LA Times, Christian Sites Being Decimated in Kosovo
Boston Globe, Serb Kosovo Heritage in Peril
SPECTATOR - Christmas Desecrations in Kosovo
BHHR, Christmas in Kosovo

The map of destroyed churches and monasteries in Kosovo
The Map of Destroyed Churches and Monasteries in Kosovo and Metohia

Decani monastery guarded by Italian KFOR
Decani Monastery guarded by Italian KFOR
Without KFOR protection all Serb Orthodox monasteries and churches
would be destroyed by Albanians.


Help the reconstruction of the monasteries of Raska and Prizren Diocese

Liturgy in Gracanica Monastery, Kosovo
Liturgy in Gracanica Monastery, Kosovo

Read an inspiring travelogue by riassaphore nun Natalia about the monasteries and churches of Kosovo and Metohija

ORTHODOX MONASTICISM PAGE (interesting links on monasticism)
Short History of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Intervew with Abbot Theodosy

The Decani Brotherhood
The Brotherhood of the Visoki Decani Monastery, 2000


Ravanica Monastery, central Serbia

A monk amidst ancient stones
A monk meditating in an old monastery tower, Djurdjevi Stupovi

A Gracanica nun in prayer
Gracanica Monastery - a nun in prayer

Our elders
Fr. Kiril and Fr. Nikolaj

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren Home Page