17.10.11

Stunning St. Sava


The Orthodox Temple of St. Sava is a must see for anyone visiting the city of Belgrade, Serbia. Although, it is hard to miss as it covers 3,500 square meters (37,674 square feet - including the gold cross atop the dome), and towers 82 meters (269 feet) over the city of Belgrade. Dedicated to the founder of the Serbian church, St. Sava, the church is built on the location where the Saint is believed to have been burned in 1595.

St. Sava's story is a one of vision and inspiration stalled by numerous wars and political change. As I gazed up at this stunning building, I could not help but think that the story of St. Sava in many ways mirrors the story of this region. There is so much potential and beauty in Serbia, both in the people and in the land, but so much is worn out and unfinished due to poor leadership and lack of money. 


Here is a (very) brief timeline of the Orthodox Temple of St. Sava:

- 1595 - St. Sava is believed to have been burned on the site by the Turkish Sinan Pasha

- 1895 (300 years later) - A Society is formed and the idea for the Temple is born. A small temple was placed on the site and later removed when construction actually started on St. Sava. 

- 1905 - The Society asks for original designs for the proposed Temple. Only 5 applications were received, and all were rejected. 

- 1912 - The First Balkan War that was shortly followed by the Second Balkan War = no more work on St Sava. 

- 1926 - The Society asks for another round of original Temple designs, and this time 22 aplications were received. The winning architect chosen for the building was Aleksandar Deroko.

- May 1935 - Construction finally begins; 40 years after the initial dream. Talk about perseverance. 

- 1941 - Bombings of Belgrade = no more work on St. Sava, and the Germans used the unfinished church as a place to park their vehicles. 

- 1984 - After a lot of requests to continue construction, a new architect was chosen, Branko Pesic, and building started up again in 1985. 

- 1989 - After 40 days of intense labor, the 4000 ton dome was added to complete the exterior of St. Sava. 

- Today - The exterior of the Temple is magnificent and complete, but once you enter, you're met with a blank canvas. Apparently the money is all in place, but the plan is to cover the interior walls and dome with detailed frescos. Such a task will take time and a whole lot of man-power. This is a beautiful and historical building, and a very important piece of Serbia's history. 

The massive and unfinished interior of St. Sava in Begrade, Serbia
The columns are completed in a beautiful, dark, green marble. I assume they're covered up to protect from dust and construction hazards.

The only completed frescos in St. Sava. 
The symbolic lighting of candles. 
Naturally - I had to get this shot. Now I have to get one with Chris!
Beautifully lit St. Sava at night.