A real treasure that Serbia has to offer is the monastery Sopocani, which is the UNESCO World Heritage Site for almost 40 years. Its name is symbolic - the monastery is erected at the source of the river Raska, and word sopot means the source in the Old Slavic language. It was built in the 13th century, and king Uros I, a member of the famous Serbian dynasty Nemanjic, was its constructor. In this monastery are the rests of this king.
In the beginning, the monastery was rich and had a large number of monks, but later, through history, it had suffered great destruction by the Turks. The monastery Sopocani was also without monks for two and a half centuries. However, in spite of such sad destiny, the monastery preserved its greatest treasure - frescoes and icons. They have resisted the time and bad conditions.
On the frescoes, you can find numerous members of the Nemanjic dynasty, as well as numerous saints, and scenes from Christ's life, then two liturgical compositions and many more.
Surely, the composition of the Dormition of the Mother of God is the most famous; it is even painted on the surface of forty square meters.
The secret why these icons remained preserved to this day lies probably in the fact that king Uros I did not save money on monastery's construction, nor on fresco painting.
There are official data that the monastery was painted by the best Tsargrad (a Slavic name for the city or land of Constantinople artists, today's Istanbul), with the best quality lime and colors of that time. Some say that the color and linearity of the art of this monastery can be compared with the Italian Renaissance.
When it comes to the architecture, the monastery was built in the classic Raska architectural school. The base is a one-nave building, with a semicircular apse, circular dome with eight windows, bell towers and exterior patches. Because of its large and high structure, it actually gives a late Byzantine art type of style.
Fans of art and history will not be disappointed in Sopocani, not at all - they will be very pleased.