Manasija monastery was founded by Despot Stefan Lazarevic;
the church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was erected
and painted between 1407 and 1418. The monastery is
surrounded by massive walls and towers.
Since the end of the XVIIth century Manasija monastery
has been assembling educated monks who have fostered
literary and copying work, called the Resava School.
Already in 1456 Manasija was burnt by the Turks; after
1718, when Austrians took the monastery (and all of
northern Serbia), they kept the gunpowder in the narthex,
which exploded and blew the ante-church up. A new narthex
was built in 1735. At the beginnings of the Serbian
revolution, in 1804, the monastery was abandoned and
in ruins again. The monastery was partly renewed, between
1807. and 1810, and the restoration works completed
Architecturally, the church belongs
to the Morava School. The ground plan is in the form
of a floral inscribed cross, combined with a trefoil.
The twelwe-side dome above the central space rests on
four free standing pillars. At the eastern end there
are one large and two small apses, whereas two large
choir conches flank the altar. Above the corners of
the church there are four little octagonal domes. The
narthex consists of nine bays. Above the central bay
there is yet another dome that rests on four pillars.
The church was built on ashlars and thin mortar beds.
The facade decoration includes low pilasters, engaged
colonettes on the conches and apses, as well as a frieze
of small blind arcades on brackets running below the
roof cornice. The ornaments have suffered serious damages.
In the inside, the original floor has
been preserved in the narthex, made of marble tiles
in various colors. Nearly half of the frescoes have
been destroyed. Despot Stefan is portrayed with the
church model on the left-hand wall. The lower register
of the north choir depicts warrior-saints in armor with
swords and lances, as an authentic representation of
contemporaneous soldiers. The vault above the main door
contains a picture of the Souls of the Righteous held
by the Divine hand. On the left and right, the prophets
David and Solomon are portrayed respectively. There
are also 24 portraits of the Old Testament prophets
and patriarchs in the spacious dome. Two compositions
cover the whole first and second registers in the altar:
the first represents the Adoration of the Lamb, the
other the Communion of Apostles.
The Monastery fortress, made up to
defend the monastery, especially from the Turks, consists
of 11 towers linked with huge walls and once, with trenches.
The towers are mostly rectangular, save two hexagonal
ones and one square-shaped.