THE DELOS INITIATIVE

 

Mileseva Monastery - Serbia

 

Located at the heart of Raska, considered a holy region since the beginning of the 12th century, when the first Serbian state was established by the holy Nemanjic dynasty, the Mileseva Monastery became the most sacred place of the Serbian Orthodox Church, especially when the relics of Saint Sava were transferred there from Trnovo (Bulgaria) in 1236. From that time on, it became a place of pilgrimage for the Serbians and other Orthodox nations from the Balkans, which continue until this day. The immediate surroundings of the Monastery are dominated by the impressive canyon of the river Milesevka, with mediaeval fortifications on the rocky top, St. Sava’s cave and its holy spring, as well as a plethora of monastic hermitages. In 1979, the Monastery was declared Cultural Property of Exceptional National Significance, and in 1990, Protected Area of Natural and Cultural Importance. Although the Monastery was torn down many times in its history, like other Serbian holy places, its spiritual radiance has been preserved.

 Perhaps due to this origin the “holy unity” between Nature and the Monastery has always been preserved. The gorge of the Milesevka River, where the Monastery is situated, was designated Regional Nature Park in 1976. In the closest vicinity is the Uvac Special Nature Reserve, established in 1971. Those two natural assets make one inseparable unity and are particularly important for the protection and conservation of the griffon vulture population, the flagship species of the region.

 The collapse of the old regime, sanctions, ethnic conflicts in the Balkans and NATO strikes caused economic stagnation in the region, leading to local population migrations. Poverty, institutional and personal irresponsibility, incompetence and lack of planning led to the exploitation of the natural resources, and uncontrolled building.  However, many cultural events are being organised, which fulfill the pilgrims’ spiritual needs. After consultation with the main stakeholders, a number of recommendations have been made -covering a wide range of issues from planning to specific management aspects- that can affront the main challenges and pressures the site is receiving.

Responsible: Nadezda Pesic

E-mail: nadapesic@gmail.com