Saint Sava Church – Belgrade
Sane Mind Serbia

Saint Sava Church – Belgrade

I wrote about the crypt of the Saint Sava church for the first time in 2018. The crypt was the only finished part of the church and was open for visits. I updated that post in 2020, while I stayed in Belgrade for six months during the corona pandemic. At that time, they were finishing the mosaic, but I left Belgrade before I could see the finished church.

I went back to Belgrade after approximately 3 years. Of course, I went to see the church. Well, let me tell you straight away. No photos or videos will ever convey the magnificence of this religious temple. You simply have to go there, to see it for yourself in its entirety. They say that the Saint Sava church is new Hagia Sofia. It could be, especially as Hagia Sofia is yet again a functioning mosque.

Anyway, the Orthodox world now has one more church that it can be proud of. But I think it’s more than that. The Saint Sava church is a magnificent addition to the legacy of all Christian world.

 

 

HISTORY OF SAINT SAVA CHURCH

 

The church is dedicated to Saint Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church, an important figure in medieval Serbia. The Ottoman Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha burned his remains in 1595, in the location where the church stands now.

 

Monument to Karadjordje and Saint Sava Church
Karadjordje monument and Saint Sava church

 

In 1895, 300 years after the burning of Saint Sava’s remains, they founded the Society for the Construction of the Church of Saint Sava. The Ottomans no longer ruled Serbia.

 

Crkva Svetog Save
Saint Sava church

 

In 1905, they launched a public contest to design the church, but they rejected all 5 received applications. After the breakout of the First and Second Balkan Wars and the First World War, they stopped all activities on the construction of the church.

 

The Saint Sava church in Belgrade
Saint Sava church

 

In 1919, after the First World War, the Society was re-established. They held a new public contest in 1926 and selected the second-place submission by the architect Aleksandar Deroko. Finally, 40 years after the initial idea, they started construction of the church on the 10th May 1935, namely 340 years after the burning of Saint Sava’s remains.

 

The Saint Sava church in Belgrade
Saint Sava church

 

But the works stopped altogether after the April 1941 bombing of Belgrade. By that time, they completed the foundation. They managed to erect the walls to the height of 7 and 11 meters. The occupying German army used the compound as the Wehrmacht’s parking lot. Both, the Red and Yugoslav People’s Army used it for the same purpose in 1944. After the Second World War, various companies used it as a storage space.

 

The Saint Sava church in Belgrade
Saint Sava church

 

 

CHURCH REVIVAL

 

Nevertheless, the Serbian Patriarch German renewed the idea of building the church in 1958. The church made 88 requests to the communist government, of which they sent 82 directly to Tito, but he never replied.

 

The Saint Sava church in Belgrade
Saint Sava church

 

The permission for continuation of the building works finally arrived in 1984. The works started in August 1985.

 

The Saint Sava church in Belgrade
Saint Sava church

 

The greatest achievement of the construction process was the lifting of the 4000 ton dome. The lifting took 40 days and it was completed in June 1989. I regularly passed by the building site on the way to the university at that time and remember seeing the dome a bit higher every day.

 

The Saint Sava church in Belgrade
Saint Sava church

 

After the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, they stopped the works again. The Patriarch considered such expensive works inappropriate at the time of the great Serbian suffering. However, the works continued in 2001 and they completed the exterior of the church in 2017.

 

The Saint Sava church in Belgrade
Saint Sava church

 

The Russian Academy of Arts completed the magnificent mosaic in 2021. As I said earlier, you really have to visit the church, to see it with your own eyes. At the same time, make sure that you visit the crypt below the church.

I took some photos of the church interior for this post, as an illustration. They can give you an idea of how the church looks inside, regardless, you will be taken aback when you enter this marvellous religious temple.

 

 

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