Studenica Monastery

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Studenica Monastery, Kraljevo, Serbia ; Shutterstock ID 631705469; Your name (First / Last): Brana V; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: Serbia destination pages

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One of Serbia's most sacred sites, Unesco-listed Studenica was established in 1196 by the founder of the Serbian empire (and future saint) Stefan Nemanja and developed by his sons Vukan, Stefan and Rastko (St Sava). Two well-preserved churches lie within the monastery's impressive white-marble walls. Bogorodičina Crkva (Church of Our Lady) contains Stefan Nemanja's tomb. The smaller Kraljeva Crkva (King's Church) houses the acclaimed Birth of the Virgin fresco and other masterpieces.

Active monastic life was cultivated by Sava and continues today though this thriving little community doesn't mind visitors (lodging is available for €10 per night). The hermitage of St Sava, a cave-like complex of monks' cells built into a cliff high above a canyon and accessed via a narrow wooden bridge, is about 6km from Studenica. It offers terrific views and makes for a great hike; ask for directions at the monastery.

From Novi Pazar, catch a Kraljevo-bound bus to the village of Ušće (about one hour) and take a local bus from there or negotiate a taxi ride (around 700RSD).