Skopje & Kumanovo

St. Pantelejmon Monastery

  Gorno Nerezi     20 Sep 2019
Perched 771 metres above Skopje in the small settlement of Gorno Nerezi, the monastery complex of St Pantelejmon would be no different from any other if it wasn’t for the small Byzantine church that sits within its walls. Built way back in 1164, the inside of this otherwise unprepossessing building contains a series of original frescos that totally changed the course of Western art and that played an extensive role in kick-starting the Renaissance a couple of centuries later. Breaking the rules of what was up until then a very strict style of religious painting, the frescos depict the usual Orthodox themes including the Lamentation of Christ, the Dormition of the Mother of God and others, but what sets them apart from everything that went before them is that the artists breathed life and emotion into the figures. Before Pantelejmon, it was forbidden to show any sense of human feelings in painting, making such pictures as the extraordinary fresco of Mary holding a dead Jesus in her arms, complete with an anguished face and tears in her eyes, utterly extraordinary. The rest of the complex is relatively unremarkable, although there are one or two extremely good traditional restaurants in the immediate area.

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