Preserve Hilandar

The Hilandar Monastery

Holy Monastery Hilandar lays the very foundation of Serbian identity. Thanks to the mission of Saint Sava, founder of Hilandar Monastery, Serbian nation, Church, State, and culture, arose from this sacred place. It is the unique Serbian institution that lasts in continuity from 1198. until today.

Hilandar Monastery is one of 20 monasteries on Mount Athos (the Holy Mount), a peninsula in northeastern Greece. Mount Athos is the only autonomous monastic republic in the world. It is part of the Greek state and under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Although monks have inhabited Mount Athos since the 6th century, the first of the still-existing monasteries was established in 963.

Mount Athos has always been a panorthodox multinational community, and all monks enjoy citizenship of Hellenic Republic, although when concerning the ethnic background of the founders and monastic brotherhoods, in relation to the identity of the founders and monks, it can be said that of the twenty monasteries, seventeen are Greek and three are Slavic.

Of these, Hilandar Monastery is a Serbian monastery. Hilandar was founded in the year 1198. Monk Simeon, the former ruler of Serbia (under the name Stefan Nemanja) and initiator of the Nemanjic Dynasty, which was to rule for two centuries, abdicated in favor of his son, Stefan the First-Crowned. Nemanja decided to follow in the footsteps of his youngest son Rastko, who went to Mt. Athos and became a monk under the name of Sava.

Soon after Nemanja joined his son, they pleaded to the Byzantine Emperor Alexios III Angelos for the permission to establish a monastery for those Serbians who would follow the rules of the ascetic life of Athonites. In the form of a golden sealed decree – chrysobull, the emperor granted his permission to father and son to establish a monastery on the site of a former and older monastery, also known as Hilandar. In the document was written that the monastery and surrounding area are “to be gifted to the Serbs in perpetuity”. In 1198, with the financial support of King Stefan the First-Crowned, the foundations were laid for a larger Hilandar to be built.

Mount Athos has always been a panorthodox multinational community

Throughout the centuries, Hilandar was extended several times, more to the north and less to the south. No major building was built until King Milutin came to power. In 1300, he built the church dedicated to the Presentation of the Holy Virgin. This is one of the best preserved and most beautiful churches on the whole of Mount Athos.

Generally, Hilandar looks like a medieval fortress. As various parts were repaired in different eras, the monastery, particularly when viewed from the inner courtyard, is a remarkable conglomeration of different levels and styles.

Monks generally spend a third of their day in services, a third in contemplation and physical labor, and a third resting. On Mount Athos the solar clock is used. In the summer, the first set of daily services begins between 2 – 4 a.m. and continues until the morning. Other services occupy part of the afternoon and early evening.

Throughout the centuries, Hilandar was extended several times, more to the north and less to the south


Hilandar Monastery, as it is true for all monasteries on the Holy Mount, is a vast treasure trove of religious art. Treasures, churches, and archives of Hilandar monastery contain about 1200 icons, of which dozen wonder-working and among the most beautiful masterpieces of Byzantine art. The most respected icon is the Mother of God “Of the Three Hands” which is revered as the Abbess of the monastery; 507 manuscript charters of medieval rulers, 1041 unique manuscript books with a total of 312.000 pages; 80 old printed books from 15th. to 17th century; 40.000 books from 17th century to the present.

There are many precious applied arts artifacts and a rich ethnographic collection. Architectural heritage is composed of layers between the 12th and 19th century with about 25 cells, chapels and churches outside the fortified complex. The valuable fresco painting covers an area of 5.000m2. Hilandar heritage extends to 10.000 acres of monastic property.

As an Athonite byzantine monument, Hilandar monastery is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


On the night between March 3rd and 4th 2004, a fire of great proportions broke out in the monastery of Hilandar on Mount Athos, Hellenic Republic, founded in 1198. In the fire, 55% of the monastery buildings were destroyed, among which were 4 chapels and objects built from 14th to 19th century.
The full reconstruction of the burned area, as expected, will be finished in the first half of 2025.