Monastery of St. Petka Iverica - the most important information
This monastery of the Nis Diocese from the 14th century was built in the canyon part of the Sicevacka gorge. It belongs to the municipality of Niska Banja and from the center of Nis the monastery can be reached in less than a 30 minutes drive. With its long and rich history, it is rightly one of the most interesting monasteries in Serbia. The area in which it is located is extremely unstable due to the roads that pass there, but in recent years, work has been done to protect it. It is specific for its military status, architecture and iconostasis. When you are in Nis or its surroundings, visiting the monastery of St. Petka Iverica is an activity that will make your vacation especially beautiful.
History of the Monastery of St. Petka Iverica
It is believed that the church was built in the time of Uros Nejaki, although its origins have not yet been fully investigated. In that period, monks from the occupied countries of the Balkans, from Mount Athos and from the monastery of Iviron, who were fleeing from the Ottoman forces, found refuge in the Sicevacka gorge. Thus, the name Iverica was added to the name of the monastery because it is probable that it was founded by the monks of this Georgian monastery. The Turkish census from the end of the 16th century indicates that the monastery was in a wealthy condition at that time.
The monastery complex is located at the entrance to the Gradistanj canyon. It was demolished by the Turks in the 16th century and remained in ruins until the end of the 19th century. In 1898, the engineering units of the Serbian army rebuilt the monastery while digging a tunnel for the railway. From that moment, the monastery passed into the possession of the Serbian army, and a military priest was appointed the head of the monastery. Then it was named the Royal Serbian Military Monastery of St. Petka Iverica, as evidenced by the monastery seal. The chief architect of the temple, Svetozar Ivackovic, designed the monastery in the Serbian-Byzantine style, it is a single-nave building with a semicircular apse on the east. The iconostasis of Milutin Markovic is based on the art of Russian churches.
Significance of the Monastery of St. Petka Iverica
The monastery is under state protection as a cultural monument of great importance and is cared for by the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments Nis. During the demolition of the monastery, the Turks buried 12 young girls, who were alive at the time, in the area of the church, and the monastery later declared them saints. This monastery is the first and only military monastery in Serbia, and material evidence of the existence of this status has been preserved.
What to see
From the original monastery, the mutvak-odzaklija of the old monastery konak and the seized stone pyramid have been preserved. During the excavation of these remains, arrows, spears, armor and money from the period of Uros I were found. The temple has two entrances, on the west and south sides. Due to the way the windows are built, the church has good lighting. The bell tower next to the church contains 3 bells. A chapel is located on the south side of the yard, and some of the engineers who lost their lives while digging the railway tunnel are buried in the cemetery next to the church. The ceiling of the church is decorated with a blue sky with stars. The figure of St. Petka is painted on the outside of the church. Folk tales invite you to look this painted character in the eye and the way you see her, very happy or crying, speaks about your state of mind.
How to get to the Monastery of St. Petka Iverica?
It is best to get from the center of Nis to the monastery by car through the gorge and we have no doubt that you will find no problems on a well-marked road. The fastest route is the one that connects to the E-80 road. From the central square in Nis, pass through Dusanova to Bulevar Dr Zoran Djindjiica, pass through Trosarina and continue on Niska Banja. After passing Banja, join the international road E-80 at the restaurant Serif, and the road will take you further through the places Prosek, Sutevac and Ostrovica all the way to the monastery.
To enter the church it is necessary to follow a specific dress code that includes covered shoulders and no short pants, skirts or dresses.