Hilandar Monastery

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Hilandar Monastery

The monastery Hilandar [ xilandar ] ( Serbian Манастир Хиландар Manastir Hilandar , occasionally also Chilandar transcribed ; Greek Μονή Χιλανδαρίου [ mɔˈni çilanðaˈriu ] Moní Chilandaríou in the area of Greece ) is a monastery in Greece . The monastery was built on the initiative of Saint Sava , who became a monk on Mount Athos in 1191 . Along with the Studenica Monastery, it is one of the most famous Serbian Orthodox monasteries. The monastery was also a center of Bulgarian revival in the 18th and 19th centuries and is one of the most famous Bulgarian Orthodox monasteries.

Hilandar houses the most important Serbian historical library of the Middle Ages, the archive of which contains numerous imperial edicts, historically important documents, manuscripts and gospels by Byzantine, Serbian, Wallachian , Russian and Ottoman editors and correspondence. Until Aleksandar Obrenović's visit in 1896, Hilandar also had the oldest Serbian Gospel ( Miroslav Gospel ).

In addition to liturgical implements, the treasury contains icons from the 11th to 15th centuries, including a mosaic icon from the 11th century and four Deesis icons from the 14th century. Among the works of the Middle Ages there are also two of the nun Jefimija , whose family was buried in the monastery, a poem in a wooden diptych and the lyrical text on the embroidery for the altar screen of the iconostasis .

Hilandar is located in the autonomous Greek monastic republic of Athos and enjoys extensive self-government. The entire 336 km² monastery state on the Chalkidiki peninsula was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988 .


Founding by Sava and Stefan Nemanja

Our Lady Hodegetria, a major work of panel painting from the High Middle Ages, 13th century

The first previous monastery was from the beginning of the 11th century. From the 12th century onwards, more and more Serbian monks came to Mount Athos, including Sava of Serbia and his father Stefan Nemanja . Sava visited the emperor Alexios III. and asked for a place for monks from Serbia, like "other peoples have on Athos". This request was fulfilled in 1198 and the abandoned monastery of Chilandaríou was assigned to the Serbian monks , so that it could “serve to receive the people of the Serbian people” (άπό του γένους των Σέρβον).

Originally Sava thought that Hilandar should be a Skite of the Vatopedi monastery , as Sava still felt that he belonged to the brotherhood of Vatopedi. However, because the other Athos monasteries feared Vatopedi's position of power would be too great, it was decided to found a separate, independent monastery community in Hilandar. Sava and his father Nemanja, as a monk with the name Symeon, completely renewed Hilandar and it soon became the most important Serbian monastery. Many important churchmen of medieval Serbia were previously monks in Hilandar. According to legend, the first Serbian university was located in Hilandar.

New construction of the Catholic by Stefan Uroš II. Milutin

Under King Milutin , the Katholikon , the main church, was rebuilt and the fresco design of the church was completed in 1321/22. The new main church became the model for many new churches on Mount Athos and beyond, especially in Serbia. After the monastery withstood the siege by the Catalan company , but was nevertheless badly damaged, new fortifications were built. a. the tower of King Milutin in the port of the monastery. Under Stefan Uroš IV. Dušan , who also extended his sphere of influence to Mount Athos, the monastery received numerous donations and Hilandar's role as the spiritual center of the Serbian Orthodox Church was expanded.

Cultivation of the exonarthex by Stefan Dušan

Coat of arms of the Serbian prince Lazar Hrebeljanovic on the exonarthex of the Catholic, 14th century

During the plague epidemic in 1347/48, Tsar Dušan stayed at Hilandar Monastery. The double-sided icon of Our Lady Abramiotis, which is considered a miracle icon, came to Hilandar as a gift from the Tsar. The main church got its final shape through the addition of the single-dome open exonarthex under Stefan Dušan, which blends harmoniously into the overall building. A coat of arms of Prince Lazar on a frieze in the arcades supported the common assumption that the exonarthex was also donated by him. However, the frieze comes from a later phase and not from the time it was built around the middle of the 14th century.

The despots Jovan Uglješa and Toma Preljubović were among the Serbian nobles at the end of the 14th century who were involved as further founders of the monastery . During the onslaught of the Ottomans, who defeated the Serbs for the first time in the Battle of the Mariza in 1371 , the monastery served as a refuge for numerous expellees. After the monastery came under Ottoman rule for the first time between 1387 and 1403 , it remained part of the Ottoman Empire from 1430 to 1912, like all of Athos.

Ottoman rule

During the Ottoman rule, Hilandar enjoyed a privileged status until the 17th century, which was supported economically by its connections to the former Orthodox centers in Bulgaria, Serbia, Wallachia and the trading cities in Dalmatia, even after the land was confiscated former Metohijen in Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo and Metohija as well as Serbia was severely restricted. Regular donations also came from old commitments with the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik). Hilandar also secured important cartridges in the Grand Duchy of Moscow and Wallachia .

From the 17th century, Bulgarian monks formed the majority of the monks in the monastery. Hilandar thus became an important center of the Bulgarian national revival in the 18th and 19th centuries. Here the Bulgarian monk Païssi von Hilandar wrote his Slavo-Bulgarian story at the time when his older brother Lavrenti was the abbot of the monastery. In 1848 Neofit Bosweli died in the monastery. In 1860, after the so-called Easter campaign, Ilarion Makariopolski and other bishops were exiled here, after several Bulgarian metropolitans had omitted the liturgically prescribed naming of the Patriarch of Constantinople during the Easter service and instead thought of “the entire Orthodox episcopate” in prayer. The monastery remained Bulgarian until 1889. In that year the Serbian King Aleksandar Obrenović arranged for it to be returned to Serbian monks, while the Bulgarian monks moved to the Zografou Monastery .

During the nationalist dictatorship of the Greek military junta 1967–1974, when they also sought a Graecization of Athos, only Hilandar was tolerated among the non-Greek monasteries of Athos.



The catholicon of the Hilandar Monastery is composed of three components: the single-dome naos with three conches , the double- dome narthex and the exonarthex, which is designed as a single-dome to the narthex of the same size.

The Katholikon 1300-1303 (or 1306-1309) in the dimensions 13 × 28 m (36 m with the later added exonarthex ) was completed in the style of the capital city of Komnenic architecture . Tsar Stefan Uroš IV. Dušan had the originally open exonarthexes added after 1346/47. This became the style for the further development of the Serbian monastery architecture and was then found in the Gračanica , Ravanica and Manasija monasteries .

The Katholikon is also the most important building within the large complex of the monastery, which is one of the most important medieval church buildings on the Balkan Peninsula due to its complex structure and high level of artistic craftsmanship. The building, built in the continuity of the central Byzantine cross- domed churches , is close to the Comnenian works of the Byzantine capital Constantinople . In addition to the three-conchonal floor plan, the execution of the exonarthex became the model for the churches and monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church between 1350 and 1450.

In its artistic entirety, Hilandar is recognizable as a mixture of Byzantine and Serbian artists through the mosaic floor, the full and bas-relief decoration of the portals and windows.

In the classical and now anachronistic historiography of Serbian art, the buildings of the epoch between the end of the 13th and the end of the 14th century were referred to as the “ Macedonian School ” (generally Serbian-Byzantine style ). Therefore, the first building belonging to this "style", the new building of the Catholic von Hilandar under Stefan Uroš II. Milutin in 1303, was assigned to this group. Today one tries as far as possible to avoid the perspective of the national schools and explains the influences on the architecture of the Balkan Peninsula through the work of certain art centers, in addition to which Athos and the nearby city of Thessaloniki acted as important initiators and origin of numerous architects of late Byzantine art.

Monastery buildings

Monastery outer wall with the Pyrgos of St. Sava, early 13th century

The overall structure of the monastery corresponds to the typical large Athonite monasteries and consists of over 20 buildings. With the closed architecture they create the impression of a small town. The complex also includes three defense towers, so-called pyrgoi, which form a defensive backdrop in the enclosure of the Catholicons formed by living, economic and prayer rooms. The Pyrgos of St. Sava dates from the oldest building phase of the monastery around the 12th century and, with five floors, reaches a height of 35 meters. A defensive passage leads to the cloister courtyard. In the cloister courtyard there are two fountains and the baptismal font next to the Katholikon.


The three-handed Virgin Mary icon

Hilandar's icons represent one of the most important medieval icon collections. One of the three surviving Athonite mosaic icons, originally in the possession of Stefan Nemanja, belongs to the inventory, as does several outstanding icons of Mary and Christ from the 13th to 14th centuries. Century.

The oldest icon of Hilandar is the mosaic icon of Our Lady Hodegetria, which stylistically belongs to the Komnenian era around 1200. A major work of European panel painting of the 13th century is the large-format processional icon of the Virgin Mary in the Hodegetria type. It is stylistically related to the frescoes of the 13th century in the monastery churches of Mileševa and Sopoćani and the works of the so-called Palaiological Renaissance . The large-format Deesis icons date from the 14th century, including the archangel Gabriel and the evangelists Luke and Matthew.

The best-known icon from the icon collection is the Tricheirousa icon (Serbian Bogorodica Trojeručica, Greek Παναγία η Τριχερούσα, in German about three-handed Mother of God). According to legend, the picture is the icon of St. John of Damascus with his hand cut off at the command of Caliph Abd al-Malik. This icon of Mary belonging to the Hodegetria type was given a Russian Silberoklad in 1904–1909. The icon is placed on the east side of the south-western beem pillar of the Hilandar Catholicons, next to the abbot's seat. One of the three legends is associated with this throne, which was probably richly adorned with wood carvings and provided with a magnificent canopy in the 18th century: the icon leaves its old place in the altar several times and appears by itself on the throne of Igoumenos. Through this miracle she settles the constant quarrel among the monks, who then leave the icon in the new place she has chosen and from now on respect it as Igumenija. The legends surrounding the icon make it the most famous icon of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The icon of the Mother of God with the three hands and the shepherd's staff of Saint Sabas is said to have brought back Sava from Serbia from his journey to the Holy Land . According to legend, Sabas prophesied before his death that one day a prince from a distant land who would bear the same name as himself would visit the Mar Saba monastery; his legacies, u. a. his staff to leave.

The venerated relics of the monastery include the icon of Christ Pantocrator from the 13th century and the Mother of God of the Three Hands as well as the shepherd's staff of Saint Sabas of Mar Saba .


The monastery has the appearance of a small town and fortress, the buildings, from different eras, were designed as integral parts of the defensive walls with the exception of the Catholic. Only two defense towers were used for the exclusive defense, but even these are bound by a chapel to the spiritual character of the complex.

Library holdings

The library has around 809 Slavic and 181 Greek manuscripts and around 20,000 printed books, 3,000 of which are in Greek. According to other levies, there are 1150 manuscripts (1076 on paper, 74 on parchment), 76 old printed books, 6 incunabula, 4518 old books and 40,000 books, magazines and newspapers from the 18th to 20th centuries. The library holdings were brought together in a central library at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries from the amalgamation of all the books distributed via the Skiten and Pyrgen. The fund came from donations from rulers and wealthy princes, foundations from monks, as well as the copies and translations that had been maintained in the monastery since the 13th century.

The collection of old medieval charts in the Hilandars archive is the largest in the Balkan Peninsula after the Dubrovnik archive. There are 157 charts from the 12th to 17th centuries in Cyrillic, 100 in Greek, 18 in Russian, some in Romanian and 1700 in Turkish .

It is believed that the Miroslav Gospel and the Vukanovo Gospel , both were of the late 12th century, even during its formation in the convent. The oldest fund which owns Typikon of Karyes in the autograph of St. Sava as the Typikon Hilandars. A genre of medical kodizi, which is rare for the literature of the Serbian Middle Ages, was discovered in the library by Đorđe Radojčić in 1952. The so-called Hilandar Medical Codex gathers medical knowledge from the 12th to 15th centuries and dates from the early 16th century.

The Hilandar sheets found in 1844 are in the National Scientific Library in Odessa.

Fire in 2004

A large part of the extensive, multi-building complex was severely damaged in the night of March 3rd to 4th, 2004 by a fire, which was allegedly caused by a defective heater. After a new type of laser scan of the entire complex, the experts believe a case of arson is more likely. Many ancient church treasures, icon wall paintings (frescoes) from the 12th and 13th centuries as well as the white rest house and ancient guest book fell victim to the fire . The damage is estimated at over 20 million euros, but the loss of irretrievable knowledge and centuries-old treasures is priceless. The renovation will last at least until 2014, explained experts, as there is currently a lack of donations and the damage is considerable. Following the fire, the then Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica called for donations for the restoration of the monastery, but the Orthodox Church is also collecting funds for the restoration .

Internationally, the English heir to the throne, Charles, advocated the restoration of the monastery within a foundation of the Friends of the Holy Mount Athos. A fundraising campaign was held in 2011 in his Highgrove estate in the presence of the Prince.


  • Slobodan Ćurčić : Architecture in the Balkans. From Diocletion to Suleyman the Magnificent. Yale University Press, New Haven CT et al. 2010, ISBN 978-0-300-11570-3 .
  • Slobodan Čurčić: The Exonarthex of Hilandar. The Question of its Function and Patronage. In: Vojislav Korać (ed.): Međunarodni Naučni Skup Osam Vekova Hilandara. Istorija, Duhovni Život, Književnost, Umetnost i Arhitektura, Octobar 1998. = Colloque Scientifique International Huit Siècles du Monastère de Chilandar (= Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti. Naučni skupovi. Odeljenje Istorij. Volskih Nauka ). Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti, Belgrad 2000, ISBN 86-7025299-6 , pp. 477-487 (English).
  • Slobodan Ćurčić: Unobserved Contributions of Hilandar to the Development of Serbian Medieval Architecture. In: Mirjana Milosavljević, Mirjana Živojinović (eds.): Четврта казивања о Светој Гори. = Holy Mountain. Thoughts and studies. Volume 4. Prosveta, Belgrade 2005, ISBN 86-07-01609-1 , pp. 18-37 (Serbian with English summary).
  • Vojislav Korać (Ed.): Međunarodni Naučni Skup Osam Vekova Hilandara. Istorija, Duhovni Život, Književnost, Umetnost i Arhitektura, Octobar 1998. = Colloque Scientifique International Huit Siècles du Monastère de Chilandar (= Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti. Naučni skupovi. Odeljenje Istorij. Volskih Nauka ). Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti, Belgrade 2000, ISBN 86-7025299-6 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gerhard Podskalsky : Theological literature of the Middle Ages in Bulgaria and Serbia. 865 - 1459. CH Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-45024-5 , p. 87.
  2. ^ Gerhard Podskalsky: Theological literature of the Middle Ages in Bulgaria and Serbia. 865 - 1459. CH Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-45024-5 , p. 87.
  3. Svetlana Smolčić-Mkuljević: iconostasis curtain (KATAΠETAΣMA) of the now Jefimija in Hilandar. In: Vojislav Korać (ed.): Međunarodni Naučni Skup Osam Vekova Hilandara. Istorija, Duhovni Život, Književnost, Umetnost i Arhitektura, Octobar 1998. = Colloque Scientifique International Huit Siècles du Monastère de Chilandar (= Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti. Naučni skupovi. Odeljenje Istorij. Volskih Nauka ). Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti, Belgrade 2000, ISBN 86-7025299-6 , pp. 693-701.
  4. Бојан Миљковиђ: Хипарска Икона Срлског Цара Стєфана. In: Zbornik Radova Vizantološkog Instituta. Vol. 43, 2006, ISSN  0584-9888 , pp. 319-349, online (PDF; 1.77 MB) .
  5. ^ Slobodan Čurčić: The Exonarthex of Hilandar. 2000.
  6. ^ Slobodan Ćurčić: Architecture in the Balkans. 2010, pp. 652-656.
  7. ^ Slobodan Ćurčić: The Exonarthex of Hilandar. 2000.
  8. ^ Slobodan Ćurčić: Religious Settings of the Late Byzantine Sphere . In: Helen C. Evans (Ed.): Byzantium. Faith and Power (1261-1557). Yale University Press, New Haven CT et al. 2004, ISBN 0-300-10278-X , pp. 66-77; Slobodan Ćurčić: The Role of Byzantine Thessalonike in Church Architecture in the Balkans. In: Dumbarton Oaks Papers. Vol. 57, 2003, ISSN  0070-7546 , pp. 65–84, online (PDF; 3.73 MB) ( Memento of the original from February 14, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked . Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.doaks.org
  9. Projekat Rastko. Najlepše ikone manastira Hilandara. [1]
  10. Ivan Benchev, The "three-handed" icon of the Mother of God in the Hilandar monastery on Athos. [2]
  11. Medunarodni Radio Srbija. Hilandar. Proslava Praznika Icon Trojeručice. [3]
  12. ^ Enciklopedia Srpskog Naroda. P. 1216
  13. ^ Enciklopedia Srpskog Naroda. P. 1214
  14. Маја Стојадинов-Илић, MATERIA MEDICA • Vol. 27 • No. 3 • September 2011. Хиландарски медицински кодекс - најважнији српски медицински споменик (PDF; 228 kB)
  15. Pro Oriente.at: The Athos monastery Hilandar.
  16. Vreme, 688, March 10, 2004 Pozar stoleca
  17. ^ Information - "Royal Patron for the Friends of Mount Athos". In: www.athosfriends.org. Retrieved March 17, 2016 .
  18. ^ Prince Charles Hosts Reception For Hilandar Monastery Appeal. Serbian Orthodox Church, July 30, 2011, accessed March 17, 2016 .

Web links

Commons : Hilandar Monastery  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 40 ° 20 ′ 45.6 ″  N , 24 ° 7 ′ 7.8 ″  E