Medieval Mileseva Monastery and Sirogojno, Serbia
The Mileseva Monastery, located 6 kilometers/3 miles east of Prijepolje, didn’t want to let us in because the Serbian minister was going to visit tomorrow. Police stood in front while men washed sidewalks, putting everything in spick and span order for dignitaries. The powers that be finally relented and let us inside for an abbreviated tour led by a priest who spoke while Sinisa translated. Mileseva Monastery is one of the most important sanctuaries and spiritual centers in Serbia. It was founded by Serbian King Vladislav between 1234 and 1236, and the relics of St. Sava (Serbia’s most honored patriarch) is housed inside Mileseva.
During the Turkish period, the monastery was demolished and rebuilt several times. A new restoration in 1863 changed the church appearance (not that we would know). No photographs or videos are allowed inside the church, grounds only. A hill in the distance had picturesque ruins of an old castle with a minaret not far away. Serbia is predominantly Muslim and this was the first mosque minaret seen. There was also a very charming, rebuilt bridge on the grounds. One of the officials followed us around the grounds, watching the group like a hawk. I don’t know what he thought we were going to do or steal.
The Church is dedicated to the Ascension of Our Lord. The first groups of frescoes were painted in the 1230s. One of most famous frescoes in Mileseva is the White Angel fresco, dating from the 13th century that may be considered to be the supreme achievement of all painting in Europe at that time. We couldn’t take photos of the White Angel fresco but coincidentally, there was a poster of it in the Sirogojno Museum visited the next day.
That seen…been…done… it was back to driving. Driving, driving, driving through the same monotonous (I thought) scenery until my butt was numb from sitting. Marco and Igor headed towards the peaks of the Zlatibor massif in Western Serbia on roads that twisted and turned. This range of mountains makes up part of the Dinaric Alps.
The group was supposed “visit the living Sirogojno museum” but it was already 6:00p. Now that would be pushed into tomorrow. The Sirogojno complex had limited amounts of A-frame cabins available to house overnight guests. Sinisa gathered the group together with “good news.” “No one has their own cabin, we’ll all have to share.” Steve and I were definitely not happy. The group was not happy. Everyone was crabby, tired and I was not the only one shooting “the look.”
Steve and I were given one cabin to share with Mark and Peter who would bunk on the level above us. The really nice little cabins were constructed in old, authentic Zlatibor style and had a small kitchen with table, dining area, bedroom and bathroom. Steve then announced there were ants all over the floor. That I could deal with.
I went over to our beds, shook out the comforters and big, black carpenter ants crawled out from under the covers. Eewww… I smashed them, and still more appeared. Screams, shouting and a major hissy fit followed, “That’s it! I’m not sleeping with big, black ants. I’ll sleep in the van if I have to. Go find Sinesa and tell him that unless he comes up with a powerful bug spray (I still remember one called “Doom” in Uganda), I am not sleeping in that cabin.” Sinisa and hut manager have a long Serbian talk (a Slav language – by the way, all four countries speak the same language). Conversation over, Sinisa leads us to his and the drivers cabin. They will cope with the ants in the infested cabin.
A good look at the bed situation in this cabin, shake the covers, no ants appeared, crisis over.
The toilet in this cabin was down a steep flight of steps along with the kitchen area, had two beds (ours) on the the level above, and yet a third level which we never bothered to investigate. Very thankful that we still had our lunch sandwiches along with the half bottle of wine from dinner last night, we sat down to eat. One black ant made its way on the wall, another crawled up my arm. I went back to double chec the beds which were still, thankfully, ant free. We ant-proofed the trash in a Zip Lock baggy and then put in the refrigerator.