Photo. Temple of St. Sava in Belgrade, Serbia, also called "Eastern Europe's Sagrada Família". © Travel Explorations.
The former Yugoslav capital Belgrade is home to the second largest orthodox church in the entire world, Temple of St. Sava. Only Saint Petersburg in Russia is larger. For the Serbians, this Orthodox Church, was a symbol of unity for the Serbs living in different countries and territories. In the beginning a small memorial church was built. Today the Saint Sava Temple attracts tourists and pilgrims from around the world who come to admire its architecture and religious significance.
On a sunny day in springtime 2017 (May) I could take my time to admire the Temple of St. Sava, both from outside and inside. Highly visible in the skyline I was almost magically drawn to the masterpiece of building. It features a combination of traditional and modern architectural elements, and it`s also beautiful surroundings here.
The temple`s (church’s) facade is covered in smooth white marble and granite and topped with several copper domes. There are the sacred prayers engraved in the entrance door to the Holy Spirit in Old Church Slavonic, Serbian Cyrillic, Latin, and Aramaic Hebrew.
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The Temple of St. Sava is an impressive sight, whether you are an Orthodox Christian or not. As I could see it’s not only impressing in size, but overall. The construction work was planned to start in 1939 but actually began in 1985. The Temple of St. Sava has a long and turbulent history. Due to various historical and political factors, including World War II and the Yugoslav wars, the church remained incomplete for many decades. Finally the exterior was completed in 2004.
The idea of construction is based on symbolic, architecture and technically. The greatest achievement of the building was lifting in place of the 4 ton central dome. The dome was built on the ground, together with the copper plate and the cross. Later, it was lifted onto the walls. The placement of the dome took forty days and was finished on 26th June 1989. Before the dome could be lifted, the four main arches had to be brought into place. The four arches are the elements linking the bell towers both physically and in terms of communication.
The temple of Saint Sava keeps a dominant position in skyline of the city and it`s easy to observe it from almost every part of Belgrade. So it was not problem for me to find the church without using a map og GPS. Based on information from Wikipedia (Church of Saint Sava): “The construction of the temple completes Belgrade's skyline: Kalemegdan - Trg republike - Terazij - Beograđanka - Slavija - Temple of St. Sava. The church building is 91 m (298.5 ft) long from east to west, and 81 m (265.7 ft) wide from north to south. The temple is 70 m (229.65 ft) high, and the dome is topped by the main gold-plated cross raising another 12 metres (39.4 ft). The lesser domes are topped by 18 more gold-plated crosses of various sizes, while the bell towers hold 49 bells".
The temple (church) is dedicated to one of the most fascinating persons in Serbian history – the founder of this church is Prince Rastko Nemanjić. He was the son of the Serbian ruler and founder of the Serbian medieval state Stefan Nemanja. Saint Sava became the first Patriarch of Serbia (1219-1233) and is an important Saint in the Serbian Orthodox Church. The temple was built on the Vračar plateau, on the location where St. Sava's remains are thought to have been burned by Turkish Sinan Pasha in 1595.
Not only the architecture is amazing, but also the murals on the golden ceiling of the interior. The interior of the church is adorned with beautiful frescoes and religious iconography, illustrating various scenes from the life of Saint Sava and important moments in Serbian history. As I could see, the construction work inside still goes on, mostly inside. Even as hard I try, I think it`s impossible to imagine how even more beautiful this building going to be one day. So take your time to admire it! And perhaps you one day return see the changes.
Stein Morten Lund, 25th June 2017
Belgrade, Serbo-Croatian Beograd (“White Fortress”), city, capital of Serbia. It lies at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers in the north-central part of the country. Belgrade is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Serbia. With population of 1.6 million inhabitants it is one of the largest cities in this part of Europe. Belgrade is known as city with ideal geographic position given its location on the banks of two large European rivers and at the crossroad of major European roads. Belgrade offer numerous attractions such are monuments, museums, churches, buildings, squares, parks and the Belgrade Fortress.