Crypt of Saint Sava Church – Belgrade
Sane Mind Serbia

Crypt of Saint Sava Church – Belgrade

It’s my second week in Belgrade. In my previous post, I wrote about many restoration projects that the city authorities are currently doing in order to improve the way the city looks. But, I did not mention one of the biggest and the most ambitious building projects – the Saint Sava Church. I wrote about this church in my article about Belgrade, so I am not going to repeat any of that now. The church is finished on the outside and they are now decorating it inside. However, one part of the church has been completely finished. The crypt!

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

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

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Saint Sava Church

 

 

1. ABOUT THE CRYPT

 

The crypt is very impressive. It comprises the burial church, the treasure of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the exhibition area.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Crypt of  Saint Sava Church

 

It will be the burial place of 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 4 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. Walls are also covered by religious Serbian images and the entire area is dominated by gold colour patterns. The crypt is also richly decorated with relief art.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
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 the right hand side of the alter lead to the burial chambers.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Saint Lazar Church – The Altar

 

In addition to religious ceremonies, the crypt is also used for various cultural events, such as exhibitions, gatherings and concerts because of its spectacular acoustic features.

 

 

2. WALL FRESCOES

 

For the presentation of the crypt in this article, I took photos of the wall and the ceiling frescoes.  The image below is on the wall directly opposite to the altar of the Saint Lazar Church. It is 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.

 

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

 

Personally, I am not familiar with all of the images, although it would be interesting to find out more about the exact story behind every one of them.

 

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

 

After all, they have all been carefully selected for the purpose of the crypt decoration and each image sends a powerful message.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Building of Monastery Ravanica

 

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

 

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

 

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Saint Constantin

 

These images resemble medieval Serbian fresco painting.

 

Crypt - Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Saint Vladimir of Russia

 

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Saint Georgije

 

What’s particularly interesting is that some of the frescoes contain images of people dressed in the Serbian traditional attire.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Saint Dimitrije

 

This also gives an idea of the way people used to dress in those times.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Saint Teodor

 

 

3. CEILING FRESCOES

 

Unlike the wall frescoes, the ceiling frescoes were first painted on canvas and then attached to the ceiling. But, this variation in the technique cannot be noticed.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Plucking Grain

 

Ceiling frescoes are various images from the Bible.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Faithful and Unfaithful Servants

 

Perhaps, there is not much artistic value in these frescoes, although the 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 frescoes are done in the same way as they were 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 look at these images the same way as we now look at medieval and Renaissance paintings and frescoes, admiring their artistic value.

 

Crypt Saint Sava Church Belgrade
Great Feast

 

In any case, the crypt is very beautiful and it altogether creates a very special place, 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, but it will be several more years before the work is completed.

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

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