Crypt of Saint Sava Church – Belgrade
Sane Mind Serbia

Crypt of Saint Sava Church – Belgrade

I’ve been in Belgrade for just over two months now. In one of my previous posts, I wrote about many restoration projects that the city authorities are currently doing in order to improve the way the city looks. But, the biggest and the most ambitious building project is the Saint Sava Church. You can read about this church in my article on Belgrade. The church is finished on the outside and they are now decorating it inside. I understand that the works will soon be completed. However, one part of the church is already finished. Its crypt.

Right now, you can’t visit the main part of the church because of the works inside. That part is completely closed to the public. But on the left hand side of the church, they opened one small area for visitors. That’s also where you will find the entrance to the crypt.

So, I went to the church and took the opportunity to visit the crypt.

 

Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Saint Sava Church

 

 

ABOUT THE CRYPT

 

The crypt is very impressive. It consists of a burial church, treasures of the Serbian Orthodox Church and an exhibition area.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Crypt of  Saint Sava Church

 

In the future, it will be a burial place for Serbian patriarchs.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Crypt of Saint Sava Church

 

The crypt was constructed in the Byzantine style, as an independent underground area with four entrances.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Crypt of Saint Sava Church

 

The crypt is wonderfully decorated. Images of apostles, martyrs and saints cover the ceiling and the space in-between is covered by gold leaves. Additionally, walls are covered with Serbian religious images and the entire area is dominated by gold colour patterns. The crypt is also richly decorated with relief art.

 

Saint Sava Church
Crypt of Saint Sava Church

 

One part of the crypt is a church, dedicated to the Holy Prince Lazar. The altar of this burial church is directly below the altar of the Saint Sava church. The bronze doors on the left and on the right of the alter lead to the burial chambers.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Saint Lazar Church – The Altar

 

In addition to religious ceremonies, they will use the crypt for various cultural events, such as exhibitions, gatherings and concerts. It has spectacular acoustic features.

 

 

WALL FRESCOES

 

To present the crypt in this article, I took photos of wall and ceiling frescoes. The image below is on the wall directly opposite of the altar of the Saint Lazar Church. It’s also the biggest wall fresco.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Crypt of Saint Sava Church

 

Images depict people and events related to the Serbian history and also to the Orthodox religion.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
God Requested Union of Saint Sava and Saint Despot Lazar

 

Personally, I am not familiar with all images, although I would like to learn the exact story behind every one of them.

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Theodosius

 

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Macarius of Egypt

 

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Petka

 

In this post, you can see almost all wall frescoes anti clockwise as you enter the crypt. I couldn’t take photos of frescoes within the area closed to the public.

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Emperor Justinian

 

 

Cyrpt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Nikolai Romanov

 

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Carrying of Remains of Saint Despot Lazar

 

But, that’s OK. We don’t need to take photos of absolutely everything. Images in this post will give you a very good idea of the crypt.

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Beheading of Saint Lazar

 

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Building of Monastery Ravanica

 

All images have been carefully selected as crypt decoration and each image sends a powerful message.

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Reconciliation of the Serbian Church and the Church of Constantinople

 

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Vladimir of Russia

 

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Constantine

 

The wall frescoes were all painted directly on the walls, in the same technique as traditional fresco painting.

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Mary of Egypt

 

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Athanasius

 

 

Saint Sava Church
Crypt of Saint Sava Church

 

These images certainly resemble Serbian medieval frescoes that you can see in Serbian monasteries.

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Sava

 

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Theodore Stratelates

 

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint George

 

What’s particularly interesting is that some frescoes contain images of people dressed in Serbian traditional attire. It also gives us an idea of the way people used to dress in those times.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Saint Demetrius

 

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Saint Theodor Tiron

 

 

Crypt of Saint Sava Church
Saint Maxim

 

 

CEILING FRESCOES

 

Unlike the wall frescoes, the ceiling frescoes were first painted on canvas and then attached to the ceiling. But, you can’t notice this variation in the technique.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Plucking Grain

 

The ceiling frescoes are various images from the Bible.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Faithful and Unfaithful Servants

 

Perhaps, there isn’t much artistic value in these frescoes at the moment, although their decorative value is superb.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Whoever Drinks the Water I Give Them Will Never Thirst

 

It is certainly not realistic to expect that, in this day and age, the frescoes are done the same way as they used to be done 500 years ago when Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
In the Bosom of the Father

 

But maybe in 500 years from now people will visit this crypt and will look at these images in the same way as we now look at the medieval and Renaissance paintings and frescoes, while we admire their artistic value.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Great Feast

 

In any case, the crypt is very beautiful and it’s a very special place at the same time, especially for the faithful of the Orthodox religion.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Pharisee and the Publican

 

If you go to Belgrade, make sure that you visit the Saint Sava church. Right now you can only see it from the outside, but you can visit this magnificent crypt.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Wise and Foolish Virgins

 

The Russian Academy of Science is decorating the church inside, together with the master iconographer Miloje Milinkovic. I look forward to seeing the final result, hopefully it won’t take too long now.

I have no doubt that, like the crypt, the Saint Sava church will be equally beautiful.

 

 

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