An iconic temple and a dominating landmark in the Serbian cityscape standing out among its surroundings: The Saint Sava Church, an edifice you won’t miss while visiting the capital of Serbia. Located where the remains of Saint Sava were buried in 1595, it is the biggest Orthodox Church in southeastern Europe, one of the largest in the world and perhaps the most monumental edifice in Belgrade.
Similar to its homeland Serbia, the church had a complex and troubled past. And to make it clearer, I’m listing below some interesting facts I learned during my visit:
The first contest for architectural plans for the Church was held in 1905, and now, in 2017, it still needs to be completed. In the beginning, the designs weren’t good enough, then various wars halted the construction progress.
The exterior is completed: Its total height reaches an astounding 82 m with the dome being 70 m high. There are more than 49 bells in the bell towers and over 18 gold plated crosses on its domes with the main gold cross adding to it an additional 12 m height. The Temple’s surface is covered with white marble and granite. Every day, its grandiose bell towers announce noon.
The interior remains mostly empty: bare and raw, a massive construction site.
The central dome is 4000 ton heavy and its lifting was the greatest achievement of the construction process. The lifting itself took 40 days.
With a surface of 3500 m2 on the ground floor, the Temple can receive an amazing 10,000 visitors at any time. It also has four galleries of 1720 m2 on the first and second floors. Upon its completion, the interior will be decorated with a multitude of mosaics. The central dome will be adorned with a monumental mosaic of Christ Pantocrator. To give a sense of the monumental scale of this mosaic, each eye will be about 3 meters wide.
The basement contains a crypt, the treasury of St. Sava, and the grave church of St. Hieromartyr Lazar, with a total surface area of 1800 square meters.
Over 100 years of an endless construction… I left this church impressed but also wondering… seeing such a gorgeous building in such an unfinished state being completed with private donations only.
It was one of the most surprising and unexpected ventures I had and I hope that one day I’ll be able to visit it again and witness its full mosaic interior.
Until that day arrives, check out my full venture in Serbia here