Visoki Dečani Monastery is a major Serbian Orthodox monastery, situated in Kosovo & Metohija, 12 km south of the town of Pec. Its catholicon is the biggest medieval church in the Balkans which also boasts itself with the largest preserved collection 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. The following 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 Dušan until 1335, but the wall-painting was not completed until 1350.
The church, 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. The monumental structure combines elements of western architectural styles, both Gothic and Romanesque, along with features of Byzantine and Serbian ecclesiastical buildings. Its interior decorated in fresco technique comprises a great number of narrative scenes and individual figures, displaying one of the most complete decorative programs of monumental painting in all medieval art. The church still preserves the original 14th -century icon screen, hegumen's throne, and the 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 the Byzantine painting" and "a valuable record of life in the 14th century".
Monastery Decani is located in the town of Decani, south-west of Kosovo & Metohija.
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