Built during the 1370s, Ravanica is the main endowment of the famous Prince Lazar
, where he was buried following his death in the battle of Kosovo. Since
then, Ravanica has been a pilgrim's destination and an important center
of cultural activities and the Serbian people's assemblies. The monastery
has been damaged by the Turks several times, in 1386, 1398,
and 1436. In the great war following the second siege of Vienna, a number of
monks got killed and the rest of them took the relics of the
Prince Lazar and withdrew in face of the Ottoman's offensive in 1690.
Only in 1717 was the sole survivor
among the monks, teacher Stefan, to come back to Ravanica
and find the monastery looted and deserted. With the help of local
inhabitants he restored the monastery and built a new narthex. However, the
suffered repeated assaults during the Serbian revolution at the beginning
of the XIX c. The new restoration took place in the middle of the XIX c.
During World War II, Germans damaged the monastery one
more time, and detained, tortured, and killed its archimandrite Makarije
on February 24th, 1943.
The Ravanica church is the first monument of the Morava School of the
Serbian medieval art. Its ground plan has the form of an enlarged trefoil
with a nine-sided dome in the middle and four smaller octagonal domes
above the corner bays. There are 62 windows. The church was built
in alternate courses of single-line stone and three-line brick. Valuable
ceramic decoration makes use of geometric patterns, floral motifs, zoomorphic
and anthropomorphic shapes.
The frescoes were not all painted at the same time and by the same artists,
they are mostly dated between 1385 and 1387. The middle-register frescoes, which
are of the highest artistic value, were painted by two artists, one of
them known as Constantine, who left his signature on a fresco of a warrior
saint. Some of the noteworthy compositions include the Communion of the Apostles
and the Adoration of the Lamb in the altar apse, as well as the Festival
cycle in the upper registers of the church.