Glass Chandeliers and Religious Frescoes – Inside the Golden Crypt of the Saint Sava Temple
Glass Chandeliers and Religious Frescoes - Inside the Golden Crypt of the Saint Sava
The Saint Sava Church is the second - oldest Slavic Orthodox Church in the world. It is visible from any approach to the city of Belgrade, as it reaches an impressive 70 meters in height (82m if you count the golden cross at the top of the highest dome). The church is named after St. Sava (1175-1236), protector of churches, families, schools and artisans, as well as the first archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
The church consists of two levels: the main floor and a lower level, which is where the golden crypt dedicated to the Holy Prince Lazar is located. The latter is a separate church from the one upstairs. The lower level is also where the crypt ’s burial chambers are located. It will be a burial place for Serbian patriarchs sometime in the future. They are accessed through the doors to the left and to the right of the Lazar altar. Note the slender arches and carefully constructed mosaics that line the entire bottom floor. The walls are filled with sacred images that represent Serbia’s religious Orthodox values.
Look closely and admire the craftsmanship of the frescoes that were painted directly on the crypt’s walls. There are images of apostles, saints and martyrs which resemble those seen on Serbian medieval fresco paintings. Each piece is carefully picked out to reflect the history of Serbia and its religious faith. The subjects in some of the paintings are even wearing traditional Serbian clothing. Also important to note are the intricate golden leaves (made of real gold) that frame the church wall, adding to the air of divinity in the atmosphere
The paintings over the ceiling are created on a canvas beforehand and thus hold no monetary value, yet that doesn’t stop them from being an impressive feat! Images from the bible decorate the entire roof of the golden crypt with vibrant colors. Some of the paintings were worked on by students in the Serbian Orthodox Church’s Academy of Arts and Conservation.
Adding to the exuberance of the church is the solid, yet detailed concrete foundation that’s remained intact for dozens of years. The St Sava church itself was built over an extensive period of time, as control over its development shifte from person to person. This has allowed its various occupants to contribute to the way it looks today. The exterior of the church was completed in 2017, however its inside is still under construction. From large bronze chandeliers to carved finishes on the columns, the Russian Academy of Arts under the guidance of Nikolay Mukhin is currently working on decorating over the structure’s Byzantine style interior. The crypt is still accessible to the public. There are currently four entrances to this Byzantine style crypt.
The slow construction of the Temple of Saint Sava clearly impacted the way it looks today. Its humble beginning in 1895 as a temple for the deceased St Sava was delayed by about 40 years due to war. Originally unable to conjure a solid architectural foundation for the temple, this delay allowed for architect Branko Pešić to rework the designs and make better use of new building techniques.
For that, this place is a cultural gem that remains on the forefront of modernization. It is currently undergoing extensive internal renovation with regard for the people of Belgrade. If you find yourself in the city of Belgrade, Serbia, this place should definitely be on your list of destinations!