Some 160 cultural monuments in Serbia have been threatened, damaged or destroyed, thus jeopardizing the survival of the outstanding cultural heritage of both Serbian and other peoples in our country – an inseparable, but still unique, part of the European civilization. According to data of the Cultural Monuments Protection Institute of Serbia, NATO bombs have damaged 25 monasteries, 34 churches, 3 mosques, 1 synagogue, 40 urban architecture monuments, 25 urban nuclei, 13 archaeological sites
and 16 memorial monuments.
With direct hits from NATO planes demolished 24 monuments (fortunately none were monasteries or archaeological sites), whilst near hits damaged 78 buildings/ monuments and detonations jeopardized 57 buildings. The old urban core of Djakovica and Pec have been obliterated, just like as the Danilovica House in Losani, the local church in Drsnik, 17 examples of profane urban architecture (the RTS building, the Mt. Avala TV tower, The Air Force Cultural Center in Zemun, the General Headquarters Building in Belgrade…).
Among the 13 monasteries and 11 churches that have been damaged – the greatest damage has been suffered by the Gracanica Monastery – an outstanding cultural monument built 680 ago – the most beautiful example of the 14th century Byzantine school, nominee for the World Cultural Heritage List. Due to the explosions of dozens of bombs in the immediate vicinity of this pearl of world architecture – commissioned in 1318 by Serbian King Milutin – the church facade has been damaged, and numerous cracks have appeared on the frescoes, spreading with each new explosion. Parts of frescos have been detached from the walls.
Quite visible are also the damages on the eastern wing (the ancient dormitory) of the Gracanica Monastery quoted by nearly all encyclopedias.
The Pec Patriarchy has also been heavily damaged. It was for centuries the center of Serbian religious life, an outstanding monument from the 13th century, encompassing three churches: Holy Apostles, St. Dmitry, Holy Mother of God Odigitria and the St. Nicholas paraklya…
Due to the violent explosions in the zone of Kursumlija major cracks have appeared in the walls of the St. Nicholas Monastery and of the Holy Virgin Church, both endowments commissioned by Stefan Nemanja in 12th century. The roof of the St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel Church in the Vojlovica Monastery (near Pancevo) has been badly damaged. It was commissioned in 1405. By Despot Stefan Lazarevic. This rare cultural monument characterized by its baroque bell-tower and icons depicted in 18th century was reconstructed in 1991. The depicted ceiling of the northern vestibule and structural cracks are visible.
Major damages have also been suffered by the Rakovica Monastery (16th century). Major static shifts have been observed in the monastery church, along with major cracks and damages. The unique Mt. Fruska Gora monasteries (16th century) have also
been damaged: Staro Hopovo, Novo Hopovo and Vrdnik heavy damages have been observed on the walls, the roof structure and frescoes; the Sisatovac Monastery walls have been seriously shaken, and the dormitory lost its roof.
The Kovilj Monastery (17th century) near Novi Sad has also been seriously damaged. The walls have been destabilized, the arches show cracks, and the ceiling in the dormitory has been damaged.
The repeated bombing of the TV relay tower on Mt. Ovcar caused serious damages to the Holy Trinity Monastery (16th century) and the Sretenje Monastery (reconstructed in 1818) and enjoying the status of a highly important monument. The walls of these monasteries show cracks, and the roofs of the dormitories have also been damaged.
Although visible damage has not yet been observed, detonations have jeopardized the foundations, structure and stability of the Decani Monastery (14th century), endowment and mausoleum of the Serbian King Stefan Decanski, completed by his son – first king and later emperor Dusan. The sculptures on the portals and windows have been particularly threatened, as well as the stone decorations on the walls of the monastery which was nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994 – being the biggest preserved source of Byzantine iconography, whose frescoes with Biblical scenes – with more than a thousand individual
figures and scenes – have survived the centuries.
The bombing jeopardized ten monasteries, including the Zica Monastery (13th century), and the entity of Stari Ras, listed on the (UNESCO World Heritage List) and including the Sopocani monastery (13th century). Initially bombs were dropped on the northern zone of the protected entity of Stari Ras, but were later landing in the immediate vicinity of the St. Peter and Paul Church near Novi Pazar, and the Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery (12th century) where the structure and the stability of the walls have been undermined.
St. Peters Church is one of the oldest Medieval sacral monuments in Serbia. It is refereed to as episcopal seat in 9 -10th century documents, and its icons date back to various periods 9-10th and 12-13th century. Its historical importance for the Serbs is linked to the christening of Stefan Nemanja and the church deit against the Bogumils.
Incessant bombing of towns throughout Kosovo the Hadum Mosque in Djakovica (16th century), and the Bayrakli Mosque in Pec (15th century) have been threatened, as well as numerous other sacral and profane monuments of the Islamic community – the Sinan-Pasha Mosque and the Hammam in Prizren (17th century) and the Imperial Mosque in Pristina (15 century)…
Since the onset of the aggression no fresh data on the status of the monuments in our country have been available for towns that have been raided directly and cut off along with all communications. Hence, no dependable data is yet available on damages suffered by the Medieval monasteries: Stara Pavlica (12th century) and Nova Pavlica (14th century), nor about the monument complexes Gornje Nerodimlje (6-19th century)and Velika Hoca (14-19 century)…
Individual examples of profane urban architecture, built at the turn of the century and later representing outstanding examples of author-architecture, were directly targeted in the bombing – the first garrison in Kragujevac, the Old hospital in Pancevo (19th century), the Ban Palace (government building) (19th century) and the old Television Building inNovi Sad, more than 20 representative buildings in Belgrade...
Technical heritage monuments have also been destroyed: the Tabacki Bridge near Djakovica (18th century), the Old Varadin Bridge in Novi Sad, the thermo-electric power plant Vrdnik, the Nis tobacco factory, monuments on Mt. Gucevo, the Pancic Mausoleum on Mt. Kopaonik, the Sumarice Memorial Center in Kragujevac, the Nazi Victims Monument in Novi Sad, as well as numerous Museums (Belgrade, NoviSad, Aleksinac, Nis, Smederevo, Pristina…)