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Title: Chilandar  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Miloš Obilić, Stephen Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia, Žiča, Byzantine Greeks, History of Christianity in Romania, Gradnulica, Dmitar Nemanjić
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


"Chilandar" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Chilandar, Iran.
Monastery information
Full name Хиландар
Order Serbian Orthodox Church (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople)
Established 1198
Dedicated to Three-handed Theotokos (Virgin Mary)
Founder(s) Saint Sava
Location Greece Mount Athos,

Hilandar Monastery (Greek: Μονή Χιλανδαρίου, Serbian: Манастир Хиландар, pronounced [xilǎndaːr]) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery on Mount Athos in Greece. It was founded in 1198 by the first Serbian Archbishop Saint Sava and his father, Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja (who later became a monk there, taking the monastic name of "Simeon") of the medieval Serbian principality of Raška (Rascia). The Mother of God through her Icon of Three Hands (Trojeručica), is considered the abbess.[1]


Hilandar monastery is first mentioned in a Greek manuscript of 1015, but as being "completely abandoned and empty", for which reason it was given to the monastery of Kastamonitou. It was certainly established a good hundred years earlier: a certain George Chelandarios (Boatman), mentioned among important Athonites in 980 was probably the founder of the monastery, which was subsequently called after him. The monastery's name appears thus in Greek acts of the 11th and 12th centuries, but later, in the first Serbian sources, it takes the form of Hilandar (D. Anastasijevich). At that time the monastery was already dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple (November 21). The last appearance of the form Chelandar is in a Protaton act of 1169, the signatories of which included abbot Gerasimus of Chelandar. After this, the monastery declined and was abandoned, like many other small monasteries and kellia at Milees, as this part of Athos was called in the Middle Ages. Up till that time, the area had been prey to constant attacks by pirates and brigands of various kinds.

The etymological meaning of the name "Hilandar" is possibly derived from chelandion, a type of Byzantine transport ship, whose skipper was called a "helandaris". The ancient cell of Helandaris was donated by Emperor Alexios III Angelos (1195–1203) "to the Serbs as an eternal gift..." and Stefan Nemanja established and endowed the monastery in 1198 (before 13 February 1199).[2]

In 1426 Đorđe Kastriotic from Albania and his three sons (one of them was Skanderbeg) donated the right to the proceeds from taxes collected from the two villages (Rostuša and Trebište in Macedonia) and from the church of Saint Mary, which was in one of them, to the Hilandar where his son Reposh Kastrioti retired and died in 25 July 1431: in his honor the Saint George tower of Hilandar was known as the Skanderbegs tower (Serbian: skanderbeg pirg).[3][4]

The Byzantine Empire was conquered in the 15th century and the newly established Islamic Ottoman Empire took its place. The Athonite monks tried to maintain good relations with the Ottoman Sultans and therefore when Murad II conquered Thessaloniki in 1430 they immediately pledged allegiance to him. In return, Murad recognized the monasteries' properties, something which Mehmed II formally ratified after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In this way the Athonite independence was somewhat guaranteed. Two medieval Bulgarian royal charters, the Virgino Charter and the Oryahov Charter, have been found in Hilandar's library, attesting to the allegiance.

The 15th and 16th centuries were particularly peaceful for the Athonite community. This led to relative prosperity for the monasteries. An example of this is the foundation of Stavronikita monastery which completed the current number of Athonite monasteries. According to author Georgi Gulabov-Roshavski of the history of Zograf Monastery, following the conquest of the Serbian Despotate by the Ottomans many Serbian monks came to Athos. The extensive presence of Serbian monks is depicted in the numerous elections of Serbian monks to the office of the Protos during the era. But from the 17th to the 19th century, Hilandar was predominantly Bulgarian-populated: in his account of 1745, the Russian pilgrim Vasily Barsky writes that the monks of Hilandar were all Bulgarians.[5] Ilarion Makariopolski, Sophronius of Vratsa and Matey Preobrazhenski have all lived there, and it was in this monastery that Saint Paisius of Hilendar began his revolutionary Slavonic-Bulgarian History. The monastery was dominated by Bulgarians until 1902.[6]

However, in 1913, Serbian presence in the Holy Mountain was quite big and the Protos was the Serbian representative of Hilandar.[7]

In the 1970s, the Greek government offered power grid installation to all of the monasteries on Mount Athos. The Holy Council of Mount Athos refused, and since then every monastery generates its own power, which is gained mostly from renewable energy sources. During the 1980s, electrification of the monastery of Hilandar took place, generating power mostly for lights and heating.

March 4, 2004 fire

On March 4, 2004, there was a devastating fire at the Hilandar monastery, with approximately 50% of the walled complex destroyed in the blaze. The blaze damaged the northern half of the walled complex, including the bakery. The library and the monastery's many historic icons were saved or otherwise untouched by the fire.

Vast reconstruction efforts are underway, to restore Hilandar.

Sacred objects

Among the numerous relics and other holy objects treasured at the monastery is the Wonderworking Icon of the Theotokos "Of the Akathist", the feast day of which is celebrated on January 12. Since Mount Athos uses the traditional Julian Calendar, the day they name as January 12 currently falls on January 25 of the modern Gregorian Calendar.

The monastery also possesses the Wonderworking Icon of the Theotokos "Of the Three Hands" (Greek: Tricherusa, Serbian: Тројеручицa), traditionally associated with a miraculous healing of St. John Damascene. Around the year 717, St. John became a monk at Mar Sabbas monastery outside of Jerusalem and gave the icon to the monastic community there. Later the icon was offered to St. Sava of Serbia, who gave it to the Hilandar. A copy of the icon was sent to Russia in 1661, from which time it has been highly venerated in the Russian Orthodox Church. This icon has two feast days: June 28 (July 11) and July 12 (July 25). Also Emperor Dusan's sword is in monastery treasure.

The library holds 181 Greek and 809 Slavic manuscripts, about 20 000 printed books (3 000 in Greek language).

The monastery contains about 45 working monks.

See also


External links

  • Official website (Serbian)
  • Hilandar monastery at the Mount Athos website
  • Another page dedicated to Hilandar Monastery
  • Official web page of the monastery (Serbian)
  • Photos from Hilandar
  • Information on the recent fire and reconstruction work (English)
  • microform in the world

Coordinates: 40°20′46″N 24°07′08″E / 40.34611°N 24.11889°E / 40.34611; 24.11889

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