November 14, 2006

KIM Info Newsletter 14-11-06

INTENSIVE WORKS ON RESTORATION OF SERBIAN CULTURAL HERITAGE AND RENEWAL OF DESTROYED HOLY SHRINES IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

Work on Restoration of Pec Patriarchate Draws to a Close

During the course of the comprehensive restoration of the complex of churches of the monastery of Pec Patriarchate two hitherto unknown frescoes of a Serbian queen and a noblewoman have been found. The frescoes were found in a walled in window on the north facade of the church of St. Demetrios. Restoration work is expected to be completed by the beginning of November, said project manager and architect Marija Jovin of the Serbian Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments


Pec Patriarchate in new attire
(click on photo to enlarge)

PHOTO GALLERY - Restoration of the Pec Patriarchate:

KIM Info Service
Pec Patriarchate, October 31, 2006

The restoration of the monastery of the Pec Patriarchate began in June of this year, although the research preceding the drafting of a program for protection and presentation of the churches was presented as early as last autumn and winter. The program foresees measures that would protect the endangered churches from climactic deterioration and restore them to the degree permitted by collected information. The program encompasses works on the constructive repair of the facade and interior walls of the churches, works on the protection of the facade walls from humidity, works on the protection of the foundation zone and works on the appearance of the facades.

Work on protecting the walls from humidity penetration are important to protect the frescoes from the creation of mineral deposits on their surfaces. Works on architectural protection are connected with works on appearance, i.e. on stopping, repairing and renewal of very important components that make this ensemble of churches unique. The present state of the churches of Pec is also the result of natural influences and previous conservatory interventions, says architect Marija Jovin, the chief administrator of the restoration project.


Left: Architects Marija Jovin and Aleksandra Fulgosi in front of a church -
Right: Painter-restorer works on cleaning 14th century frescoes
(click on photo to enlarge)

There are approximately 20 people working on the restoration of Holy Apostles Church, St. Demetrios Church, the church of the Theotokos and St. Nicholas Church, which comprise the Patriarchate. During the past five months they have completed much of the work, spending the most time on removing previously installed insulation and the water drainage channel around the church foundation.

The restoration of the Pec Patriarchate was launched thanks to the special efforts of Gordana Markovic, director of the Serbian Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, and the Serbian Orthodox Church. Work on the Patriarchate also received special support by Professor Elka Bakalov, an eminent Bulgarian expert and UNESCO consultant, who visited the Pec Patriarchate under the auspices of a program for the forming of protected zones by UNOSEK in Vienna. In her letter to Metropolitan Amfilohije dated September 10 this year, Professor Bakalov wrote:

"During my visit to the  Pec Patriarchate on August 23, 2006, I had the opportunity to see works on the conservation of the architecture of the churches under the guidance of experts from the Institute for the Protection of Monuments from Belgrade. Architect Marija Jovin, whom I have known since 1981, explained the principles for conservation to me, and they are in complete accordance with modern principles for conservation of medieval architecture in the Balkans."

Commenting on further protection for the Pec Patriarchate and other Serbian medieval holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija, Professor Bakalov expressed her conviction that "these activities should unfold in cooperation with representatives of the Institute for Cultural Monuments in Belgrade for it is this very Institute that possesses the most complete documentation and qualified experts who have been renown for years for their work in Kosovo".


Painter-restorer works on protecting frescoes on plastered external facade
 (click on photo to enlarge)

"The program also foresees the removal of cement channels around the foundation, cement and cement plaster characterizing the foundations, and removal of a coat of bitumen. Works on that part of the restoration were successfully completed in a month and a half and thus we have now made a vertical aerial insulation around the foundation and resolved the issue of the possible appearance of humidity," said architect Jovin, adding that "as a result of many years of humidity penetration through the walls, mineral deposits accumulated on the surfaces of the frescoes and as a result they are terrible endangered because their colors are starting to fade".

Luckily the Pec Patriarchate has a plastered exterior and that is what preserved the interior of the churches. The appearance of humidity and the appearance of mineral deposits on the frescoes is all the more dangerous because in addition to the dissolved salts, they are also affected by dissolved particles in the air from the interstices. That is why it is necessary to repair the cracks as well as to conserve the frescoes.


Biphora on north facade of the church of St. Demetrios before opening (left)
and after the discovery of two frescoes of a Serbian queen and a noblewoman (right)
(click on photo to enlarge)

During the past five months smaller repairs of the roof covering have also been done on the churches of the Pec Patriarchate although the lead that covers the church complex is in relatively good condition. The main work done was on revision of the drainage system from 1932 while at the same time doing exhumation work in the churches and around them to establish earlier construction phases. In addition to this, work is also being done on the conservation of frescoes on the facades as well as the colored friezes on the church, where student painters from Belgrade have been most helpful. As part of the works on drainage system and with the blessing of His Holiness (the Serbian Patriarch), this summer the tomb of Patriarch Maksim was opened because of the humidity that collected there and represented a threat to the whole wall. The holy relics of Patriarch Maksim were washed with wine and consecrated water by Metropolitan Amfilohije and Bishop Teodosije and placed in the altar (sanctuary) of the St. Nicholas Chapel.

A QUEEN AND A NOBLEWOMAN BEHIND THE WALLED IN BIPHORA

During the course of works on the north facade of St. Demetrios Church two weeks ago two hitherto unknown frescoes from the 14th century were discovered. Namely, in a walled in biphora (double window) on the external side of St. Demetrios Church frescoes of a queen and a noblewoman were found with the two facing each other. It is not known who they were because the inscriptions have not yet been found. There are plans to open up the window completely. This biphora was probably walled in in the 17th century so that Georgije Mitrofanovic could paint a fresco of Patriarch Jefrem on the inside wall above his tomb. Through meticulous conservation work that fresco will be transferred to the empty wall across from the tomb while the two newly discovered frescoes above the grave of Patriarch Jefrem will shine in all their beauty. It is expected that by then we will know who the frescoes depict.

Painter-restorer Rade Petrovic, who has been working on the holy shrines of Kosovo and Metohija for years, deserves special credit for the discovery of these frescoes. He believes that one of the images is the likeness of Dusan's wife, Queen Jelena (Helen), who left a special mark on the time in which she lived and whose image has also been preserved in other churches. What is especially amazing is the freshness of the colors and we are all truly overjoyed by this discovery, said Petrovic.


Medieval ladies see the light of day once again - A queen and a noblewoman from
the inside of a biphora built at an earlier date (click on photo to enlarge)

In the last phase of the restoration the already plastered facade of the Patriarchate churches will be painted with a new coat of ochre color to match the former appearance of the entire church complex as depicted on some frescoes in the interior of the churches. 'There is ample historical evidence that, like Zica (Monastery), the Pec Patriarchate was plastered and painted. We specially chose a color that corresponds to remnants we have found on some parts of the facade," says Architect Sinisa Temerinski, who works with Marija Jovin on overseeing the works.

Restoration work is expected to be completed by the beginning of November. The cost of the entire program is 15 million dinars, which is being provided by the Republic of Serbia Government. This is one of the most important restoration projects of Serbian cultural heritage in modern times since the Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of the Pec Patriarchate has for centuries been the spiritual center of the Serbian Orthodox Church.


Priceless treasury of Serbian spiritual and cultural patrimony was recently
added to UNESCO World Heritage List - Fresco of Christ above entrance
to Holy Apostles Church in Pec (click on photo to enlarge)


Monastery of the Pec Patriarchate in its new attire amidst autumn colors
(click on photo to enlarge)


By restoring our holy shrines we are showing that we want to stay in our ancestral homes

Ongoing restoration of Devic Monastery, St. Nicholas Church in Pristina and other destroyed holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija

Bishop Teodosije, who has been tasked by the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church to oversee the restoration of Serbian holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija, expressed his conviction that the firm determination of the Church to restore its holy shrines in cooperation with Serbian experts from the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments is the best answer we can give to those who thought that the Serbian holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija can be erased from the face of the earth. By renewing these holy shrines we are also spiritually renewing ourselves and concretely demonstrating our determination to remain in our ancestral homes, said Bishop Teodosije


Architect Aleksandra Fulgosi from the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija
in front of Devic Monastery living quarters where restoration is almost complete
(click on photo to enlarge)

KIM Info Service
Pristina, October 31, 2006

Works on the restoration of the living quarters of Devic Monastery with chapel are successfully continuing. Workers from Zvecan say that if favorable weather holds up, works will be completed ahead of schedule. Expert oversight of the renovation of Devic Monastery is headed Architect Zoran Garic, director of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Leposavic. The Institute in Leposavic is actively involved in the process of restoring Serbian holy shrines that is being implemented on the basis of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Kosovo Ministry of Culture under the direction of experts of the Council of Europe.

In addition to restoration of the holy shrines of Prizren, Devic Monastery and the churches in Belo Polje and Vucitrn, also in progress are the renewal of St. Nicholas Church in Pristina and the living quarters of Devic Monastery. Works by the PAB Company from Djakovica are being done under the supervision of Architect Jovica Lukic of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Leposavic. It is expected that rough construction work on the restoration of the church, the baptismal chamber, the bell tower and the parish home will be completed by the end of the year.

PHOTO GALLERY - RESTORATION OF ST. NICHOLAS CHURCH http://www.kosovo.net/images/svnikola30okt06/index.htm

Initial condition

Current condition

 

 

Work is presently advanced to the phase of the roof construction, which is expected to be put in place during November, with damage to the central cupola to be repaired at the same time. The church has already been plastered from the outside. Work is unfolding according to schedule, say representatives of the Institute in Leposavic.

Next year there are plans for work to continue on the interior appointment of all buildings. With the restoration of St. Nicholas Church in Pristina, the remaining Serbs as well numerous iznanici from this city where some 40,000 Serbs lived before the war will once again have a holy shrine where they can gather and pray.

Bishop Teodosije, who has been tasked by the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church to oversee the restoration of Serbian holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija, expressed his conviction that the firm determination of the Church to restore its holy shrines in cooperation with Serbian experts from the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments is the best answer we can give to those who thought that the Serbian holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija can be erased from the face of the earth. By renewing these holy shrines we are also spiritually renewing ourselves and concretely demonstrating our determination to remain in our ancestral homes, said Bishop Teodosije.


Interior of the church with scaffolding still in place
(click on photo to enlarge)
.


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