3 Churches in Belgrade You Shouldn't Miss!
Apart from the Temple of St. Sava, which is reviewed in a separate article, the capital of Serbia has numerous churches that deserve to be visited, and here is a shortlist of those you shouldn’t leave out during your Belgrade visit.
The Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel (Saborna crkva)
The Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel is one of the largest churches built in the Principality of Serbia (1815-1882) and one of the oldest churches in Belgrade. It was erected across the Building of the Patriarchate, and it represents a national symbol of independence and liberation from Turkish slavery.
The rectangular, elongated base is complemented by a bell tower on the West and a semi-circular altar apse on the East. Brick and lime mortar were used for the construction, and among the architectural elements, the late baroque and classicism characteristics can be recognized.
The icons of the most representative classicist iconostasis in Serbia and most of the compositions on the arches and walls were painted by one of the most prominent Serbian masters of the 19th century, Dimitrije Avramovic. The treasury where golden products, crosses, priests’ garments, and icons are kept, is especially admirable. The church also houses the graves of Milos and Mihailo Obrenovic, as well as the graves of the Serbian language reformer Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic and educator Dositej Obradovic.
There is an anecdote regarding the Cathedral from the period of bell casting. Duke Petar Cukic who was in charge of the construction of the bell was threatened with death by Belgrade’s vizier Husein-Pasha if construction is carried out. The duke replied, “I know that if I raise a bell, I shall die of Turkish hand, and if I do not, I shall die of the hand of my master.” He chose the first option.
St. Mark’s Church
One of the most beautiful churches in the capital was built in the Tasmajdan park in the Serbo-Byzantine style. The building was erected according to the architectural project of Petar and Branko Krstic between 1931 and 1940. An interesting fact is that at the time of its construction, there was no larger Orthodox church on the territory of Yugoslavia.
The patron of the church is the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, who is represented in the mosaic above the main entrance by the painter Veljko Stanojevic (1962).
The significant Serbian shrine of Gracanica was used as a model for the architectural plan and facade. The church has a doubled cross-in-square floor plan, a five-sided altar apse, five domes, and a bell tower. Two types of stone were used for the facade: light sandstone and red stone found in the vicinity of Paracin.
The architect Zoran Petrovic (1991-1992) was responsible for the marble iconostasis, and the church has one of the most representative collections of icons from the 18th and 19th centuries. The relics of Emperor Dusan, King Aleksandar Obrenovic, and Queen Draga Masin rest in it.
After the Temple of St. Sava, the church is considered the most monumental sacral edifice of the late period of the national style.
Ruzica Church (Church of Virgin Mary)
Although there are no reliable facts about the exact date or who was responsible for the construction, Ruzica is considered the oldest church in Belgrade. It was built on the Kalemegdan Fortress on the site of the namesake church from the period of Despot Stefan Lazarevic (1377-1427), which was destroyed by the Turks during the conquest of Belgrade. The current building was a gunpowder magazine in the 18th century and a military church from the 19th century.
According to folk tradition, the pious sisters Ruzica, Marica, and Cveta built three churches in Belgrade and named them after themselves. According to another source, the name Ruzica derives from the pagan festival of Rosalia, during which the participants were showered with rose petals.
As a military sanctuary in the past, the church has polyeleos chandeliers made of trophy weapons from the First World War. There are two statues in front of the entrance, cast from cannon shell cases: a warrior from the time of Emperor Dusan and an infantry soldier from the Balkan Wars period.
The frescoes in the church were made in 1938 by the Russian painter Andrei Vasiljevic Bicenko. In addition to the saints, the rulers are also represented on the walls: Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and Kings Peter and Alexander Karadjordjevic.
Near the church is the Chapel of St. Petka built in 1937 according to the architectural plan of Momir Korunovic. It was erected on the site of the miraculous, healing water spring, in honor of the transferring of the saint’s remains to Belgrade.