Visoki Dečani Monastery is a major Serbian Orthodox monastery, situated in Metohija, 12 km south from the town of Pec. Its cathedral is the biggest medieval church in the Balkans which contains the largest preserved monument of Byzantine fresco-painting.
Nestled in a chestnut grove, the monastery’s original founding charter is dated in 1330; however the monastery was established by King Stefan Dečanski in 1327. The following year the king died and was buried on monastery grounds, which henceforth became his popular shrine. The construction activities were continued by his son Stefan Dusan until 1335, but the fresco wall iconography was not completed until 1350 (see images).
The cathedral was dedicated to Christ Pantocrator. It was constructed by master-builders under the Franciscan monk Vitus of Kotor from blocks of red-purple, light-yellow and onyx marble. It is distinguished from other contemporary Serbian churches by its imposing dimensions and obvious Romanesque features. Its celebrated frescoes comprise some 1000 portraits and cover all major themes of the New Testament. The cathedral contains an original 14th-century wooden iconostasis, 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 Byzantine painting,” and “a valuable record of the life in the 14th century.”
Frescoes and Interior: