Thursday, December 2, 2010

The awesome Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade, Serbia; a pearl of great value.

This temple of God elevates out entire nation through the awareness that is has someone to elevate.”
- Pavle, Patriarch of Serbia.

Facing the enormous front of the Church of Saint Sava, I’m reminded of the parable Jesus tells, about a merchant who sells everything he has in order to be able to purchase a pearl of great value. The people of this struggling city, still marred by the latest war, invest the surplus of their slowly waxing economic momentum in the manifestation of a magnificent church devoted to Serbia’s arch-father Saint Sava, and in effect a shrine devoted to the identity of Serbia.

We walk from downtown south along Kralja Milana, approaching the enormous gleaming dome that’s enthroned at the far end of it. So approaching the church I think of Mount McKinley in the heart of Alaska, which sits on the horizon for half a day, slowly rising while we drive towards it and become smaller with each passing mile.

The exterior and surrounding complex of the Cathedral of Saint Sava was completed in 2004, and marked more than the finishing of a building.

Saint Sava (1169-1236) is venerated for composing much of Serbia’s legislation and initiating Serbian Orthodoxy. When in the 16th century the Turks overran Serbia they desecrated the Serbian national identity by ceremoniously digging up the bones of Sava and setting them on fire on the Vracar hill in Belgrade.

The Turkish occupation ceased three hundred years later. Plans for a Sava monument were forwarded in 1895, but the actual building had to wait until after the First World War and subsequent global crisis. When in 1939 the foundation was finally put down, the Second World War started and the building was put on hold again.

After WWII, Tito rose to power, and he didn’t see the need for a national church. Permission to continue the building was granted only in 1984. The central dome was lifted in place in 1989. And in 2004 the exterior and surrounding park was completed.

Now, even though the interior is still quite incomplete, the Cathedral of Saint Sava is rapidly becoming one of Belgrade’s most popular tourist destinations, and that rightly so. Travelers to this fair city will see the imposing edifice from all angles loom over the skyline, like a great white shepherd standing watch over his flock.

Some Cathedral of Saint Sava facts:

- The Cathedral of Saint Sava was partially inspired by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
- It has a surface area of 7431 square meters and a volume of 170,000 cubic meters. When finished, the Cathedral of Saint Sava will be the largest working orthodox church in the world.
- The cathedral is equipped with 49 bells, 13 domes and 18 crosses. The main cross on the central dome is 10.5 meters high, weights 4 tonnes and rises 81 meters over the ground.
- The central dome is 27 meters high, 39.5 meters in diameter (inside diameter is 30.5 meters) and weighs 4,000 tonnes. It took 20 days to hoist it in place.
- 15,000 square meters of the interior will be covered in mosaics made from stones sizing about 1.3 square centimeters. That’ll come down to more than 11 million stones.
- The floor area of the Cathedral of Saint Sava is 3,850 square meters, enough to accommodate 10,000 worshippers.
- The surrounding park has an area of almost 60,000 square meters.

(Source: The Cathedral of Saint Sava, published by TV Studio “Beckerek”, Novi Sad. ISBN: 978-86-6103-000-0).


1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry, but I must correct You. It's not church, nor cathedral. It's Tample of Saint Sava.
    I love Your efforts to explore. Maja


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