A great portion of Serbian history relates to the period of the Ottoman rule. Numerous legends and epic poems were written about the struggle and survival of the Serbian people, and today they still serve as an inspiration, but also to explain the specific relationship that this nation has developed towards its own tradition and culture. One of the most important figures in Serbian history was the son of Stefan Nemanja, a medieval ruler from the Nemanjić dynasty. Born as Rastko Nemanjić, he would later become a monk and receive the name Sava. The independence of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the foundation of the Serbian archiepiscopacy as all Sava’s achievements. As a true Renaissance man, he was an enlightener, a spiritual leader, a statesman and a teacher. Sava devoted his life to the religious and cultural enlightenment of the Serbian people,and taught them about Christian morals, love and mercy. He died in Bulgaria,on his way home from a pilgrimage. Sava was declared a saint and his remains were transported to Serbia and laid to rest in the Mileševa Monastery. Every Serb felt the presence of his holy remains had a special spiritual as well as political significance, especially under Turkish rule. No other figure in the history of Serbia has ever been so deeply etched into the consciousness and heart of this nation as Saint Sava. It is believed that, in 1594, Sinan Pasha burnt Sava’s holy remains at the stake built on the Vračar hill in Belgrade. At that place, owing to contributions made by Serbs from all over the world, the largest Orthodox church in Europe was constructed (still not complete)and dedicated to this illustrious man. After the initial architectural design competition in 1905 ended without success, another one was opened in 1926. The architects who designed the church were Bogdan Nestorović and Aleksandar Deroko. The work began in 1935, and the foundation stone was laid four years later. World War II temporarily stopped the construction, with the Germans using the site as a parking lot.The church was finally finished in 1984, owing to the efforts of Patriarch German. A special feature of this cathedral is its cupola, weighing 4,000 tons and decorated with a cross 12 meters high, which makes it the tallest of all Orthodox places of worship in the world. The mosaic inside the cupola was done by more than a hundred artists, under the guidance of the Russian Academy of Arts’ member Nikolai Mukhin, the most prominent icon painter in Orthodox Christianity. This has been one of the largest projects of mosaic decoration of a curved surface in the world. When all the phases have been finished, which include, beside work on the cupola and under-cupola, the organization of the altar space, this will bethe largest church with mosaic ornamentation in the world. The reason why this decoration technique was employed is that the church was envisioned as an homage, or rather a replica of the Hagia Sophia Church in Constantinople, which was famous for its mosaics. The Church of Saint Sava was officially opened in 2004, although its interior decoration is still underway. Concerts and exhibitions are often organized in the crypt.
Krušedolska 2a, Beograd, Serbia