The son of the first Serbian powerful ruler - Stefan Nemanja. His real name was Rastko Nemanjić, but at the age of 17 he decided to withdraw to priest hermit life on holy Mt.Athos in Greece. When he returned to Serbia, he founded monastery Žiča with his brother Stefan Prvovenčani.
His father Stefan Nemanja also became a priest (Simeon) after passing the reign to his son Stefan Prvovenčani, and he also stayed at Mt.Athos for a while, where he founded the holy monastery Hilandar with his wife Ana (who became Anastasia as a nun). When he died, St.Sava returned with his body to Serbia.
He was proclaimed as saint because there was holy oil (miro) coming from his body, that never dissolved! It heals all the diseases, and thus he was also called Simeon Mirotočivi, because his body produces "miro" even after 8 centuries!!! His body is now kept in the monastery Studenica, together with his two sons, Vukan and Stefan Prvovenčani, who also didn't dissolve, and has even skin on the forehead, after 8 centuries! It is believed that if you pass 3 times under the coffin with his body, you can be completely cured from everything. And it REALLY does happen! People do get cured, there were many proofs of this, no matter how hard it is to believe!
Unfortunately, St.Sava resurrected his brother Stefan Prvovenčani from the dead, and right after that he turned him into a priest, Simon. It is one of his miracles, and maybe that is why his body is still undissolved, and opened every Sunday and holiday for believers to pray.
St.Sava's bones were burned by Turks in Belgrade, so unfortunately his body isn't saved... But on that place there is the biggest Orthodox temple, St.Sava temple, in Belgrade.
Sveti Sava was responsible for development of culture and literature in Serbia, and his day is 27th of January, celebrated by schools.
He made the first Serbian church law - Krmčija or Nomokanon, and sort of "published" it.
It's a real miracle that all those frescoes managed to survive after all this time, and especially numerous destructions. he authors of some frescoes were paintors from Constantinople and they announce the monumental style of the 13th century.
The most important frescoes come from 1309-1316 from the times of the first big restauration. They were painted by the paintors from the famous school and workshop of king Milutin.
This is the fresco of Christ the Saviour, from 14th century. Click on the other photo to see the full image.
Favorite thing: Since Žiča became the center of the Serbian Orthodox church, Sveti Sava stazed living there for a while and from there he monitored the development of the country and supported his brother Stefan Prvovenčani, whom he coronated there in 1221 AD as the first Serbian king. hanks to him, Žiča had the richest tresures on the entire area of south-eastern Europe. It contained part of the Holy Cross, dress of holy Mother, right hand and part of the head of St.John, bones of saints and apostoles, prophets and tortured ones, icons, golden pots, precious clothes, etc. Unfortunately, none of that is left today.
When built, church was intended to serve the purpose of coronation of Serbian kings, and to be the place of oaths for archiepiskopes (one of Orthodox priest levels).
The place was not determined randomly, but it was carefully chosen to be right on the half way between Rome and Istanbul, two most important cities of that time.
The name was given by the exuberant nature and fertile soil, there are many crops (žito in Serbian), and thus comes the name Žiča.
The history of the monastery begins in the very beginning of 13th century, when Sveti Sava, the son of the first Serbian emperor Stefan Nemanja, returns from Greece, holy mountain Athos, where he served as a priest. He found his brothers Vukan and Stefan Prvovenčani fighting, and he managed to bring peace between them, and build this monastery with Stefan Prvovenčani, to be imperial "lavra". It was bilt within 3 years, but painting the frescoes and all the touch up works lasted for about 20 years.
(the photo shows the entrance gate)
Favorite thing: Thorughtout 8 centuries of its existance, monastery was a target of various destructions, most of them by Turks of course, who were the conquerors who occupied Serbia for about 500 years! However, the biggest destruction Žiča sufferred from the German bombing in the WWII. Also, it continued in 1999, during NATO bombing, several missiles hit the monastery garden, but luckily none of them destroyed the monastery itself.
And so the tour of the monastery ends. here is a lot more to say of course, but I suggest you to go there and discover yourself. A place like this can't be faithfully described in words and photos. It's the atmosphere and environment that give the spirit and the sense of traveling through the centuries, a very big step back in time, indeed. And at the end, before leaving, don't forget to stop for a while in the gardens and admire the beauty once again, for the last time.
You will leave with a full heart.
Favorite thing: The monastery was built in the typical Raška building school, Serbian medieval architecture style. He altar is turned towards north-east, and spacious "pirg" turned towards south-west. It has a shape of the cross. he northern part was dedicated to Saints and the southern one to St.Archidjakon and first-tortured one Stefan, the protectors of the brothers )Stefan was their father, btw).
Favorite thing: In the front yard there is another church, a small local chapel, not very used and not very popular among the visitors/tourists. But however it looks nice and fits into the ambience. Next to it there are more administrative/cultural offices.
Favorite thing: This fountain is in the middle of the back yard. It is more fancy, but nobody actually takes the interest to drink from there, everybody go to the one shown in Must See tips. To me this one looks more attractive and kind of exotic.
Favorite thing: In medieval Serbia, monasteries were the places where the culture was kept and developed. In the libraries the books were copied by hand, new ones written and Serbian culture was developed. It was the only way to preserve it from the attack, especially when the Turks invaded in the 14th century.
Favorite thing: Just beside the road, across the monastery, there is another holy water spring, and this one is very convenient for the passers by, who don't have the time to stop by in the monastery. The main road is separating this fountain from the main monastery gate.
Favorite thing: Or in Serbian: Crkva apostola Petra i Pavla. It was built in the 14th century in the back yard of the main monastery church.
Favorite thing: Since Orthodox religion is not so strict as Catholic for example, priests and nuns are buried together at the same cemetery, even one beside the other, there is no separate male or female cemetery.
Favorite thing: It is forbidden to go beyond this gate, as that is where the priests and nuns are. Orthodox priests can get married and have families, but some of them cannot, if they withdraw to hermit solitude.