Religion an essential Serbian tradition!
Serbs are more traditional than religious, but the religion itself has been used as an important national identification and is essential for understanding Serbian culture and history. Throughout the country, the mighty rulers, kings, tsars, and princes of the past, have built extraordinary buildings, churches and monasteries, hoping to give their contribution to the God and to the future generations of Serbian people. Young people are modern and following worldwide trends, they are culturally religious, respect the traditions, and are proud of Serbian cultural and religious heritage.
Serbian churches: a central meeting venue of each city
Churches, witnesses of the rise and fall of the Serbian empire and state, are very important part of a culture that Serbia is proud of. In every Serbian city and town, you will find a centrally located Orthodox church. Many of them are historic and cultural symbols of time and past events. For example, The St. Sava's Temple is for hundreds of years longed to be the biggest orthodox church on the planet. In Belgrade, there are several churches, dating back to different times and carrying their own stories. Next to the oldest Serbian restaurant “The question mark” is St. Michael's Cathedral, a Serbian cultural center of Belgrade during the Ottoman rule. Many of the traditional ethno villages also have simple, modest churches, just to illustrate the importance of religion in the everyday life of the older traditional generations. For some churches, people have told tales about the miraculous energy and curing diseases. One like that is near Djavolja Varos, which is believed to hold the misfortunes of its visitors, living them with fewer worries and happier lives.
Serbian monasteries: modest reminders of past glory
The biggest and the mightiest of Serbian rulers didn't only want to be remembered for their ruling, wars or political decisions. They were leaving behind authentic traces of spiritual culture, lonely monasteries, each more beautiful and bigger than the previous one. The famous dynasty “Nemanjic” has built the most of Serbian monasteries in different mountains or natural areas wherever they decided to spend the last of their retired days. The results are the old monasteries, some dating back to the 11th centuries, that Serbia and its people are the proudest of. Some notable monasteries to check out are Studenica, Sopocani, Hilandar, Patriarchate of Pec, Manasija, Ravanica and Zica. The national park Fuska Gora has been known as “Serbian Athos” due to a large number of monasteries (around 20) on the rather small mountain range. The Serbian monasteries are usually either men only or women only, and most of them have a donation based souvenir shops as well as local products store and some even have modest restaurants offering traditional food that is produced in the area at the symbolic price that goes into the upkeep of the monastery.
The culture of Serbian monasteries and frescoes
Some of the old monasteries, like Hilandar which was built in the 12th century, is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and is a quite exquisite sight and place of utmost tranquility and peace.
Serbian monasteries are enriched by unique and distinctive style paintings called frescoes. The compositions are marked by monumental dimensions and simplicity of lines and repetitive motives. Frescoes show the lives of saints and founders of these monasteries in the form of regular people and usually symbolize their efforts and afterlife in a heaven-like setting.
One of the most famous frescoes is the White Angel fresco, a part of much larger composition painting from Church of the Ascension of Christ, part of the complex of the Mileseva monastery. The White Angel has also been included in the UNESCO’s list of protected world heritage. This fresco also gained international fame as it was chosen to be sent to space as a representation of our planet's culture if ever the extraterrestrial beings catch the signal from the expedition. Symbolically, the face of The White Angel is flying in the space.
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