Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Gomionica monastery (architectural ensemble)


Status of monument -> National monument

Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 19 to 25 January 2006 the Commission adopted a






The architectural ensemble of the Gomionica Monastery is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument). 

The National Monument consists of the church dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin, the old konak building, an old fountain, an old wall, a cemetery, and movable heritage items consisting of a collection of icons, a collection of manuscripts and old printed books, and items of artistic artisanship.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot nos. 1 and 3 (old survey), Land Register entry no. 56, cadastral municipality Kmećani, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The provisions relating to protection measures set forth by the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of Republika Srpska no. 9/02) shall apply to the National Monument.




The Government of Republika Srpska shall be responsible for ensuring and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve, and display the National Monument.

The Commission to Preserve National Monuments (hereinafter: the Commission) shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up signboards with the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.




To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, the following protection measures are hereby stipulated, which shall apply to the area defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision.

  • The only works permitted are research and conservation and restoration works and works designed for the presentation of the property, with the approval of the ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska (hereinafter: the relevant ministry), and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),
  • Infrastructure works shall be permitted in exceptional cases subject to the approval of the relevant ministry and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority,
  • On the plots adjoining the plot on which the National Monument stands, the construction shall be permitted of properties with a maximum height of two storeys (ground and first floor) and a maximum footprint of 10 x 10 m, using the materials and types of construction that form a recognizable part of the landscape, so that such buildings shall not be detrimental to the National Monument in character, size, appearance or any other way,
  • All operations that could be detrimental to the protected area (by causing air pollution, noise, vibrations) are prohibited,




All executive and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are hereby revoked.




Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of Republika Srpska, and urban and municipal authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the preservation thereof.




The removal of the movable heritage referred to in Clause 1 of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable heritage) from Bosnia and Herzegovina is prohibited.

By way of exception to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Clause, the temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina of the movable heritage for the purposes of display or conservation shall be permitted if it is established that conservation works cannot be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Permission for temporary removal under the conditions stipulated in the preceding paragraph shall be issued by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, if it is determined beyond doubt that it will not jeopardize the movable heritage in any way.

In granting permission for the temporary removal of the movable heritage from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal may take place, the date by which the items shall be returned to the country, and the responsibility of individual authorities and institutions for ensuring that these conditions are met, and shall notify the Government of Republika Srpska, the relevant security service, the customs authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the general public accordingly.




The Government of Republika Srpska, the relevant Ministry and the heritage protection authority, and the Municipal Authorities in charge of urban planning and land registry affairs, shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II – VI of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.




The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this Decision, which may be viewed by interested parties on the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission (http://www.aneks8komisija.com.ba) 




On the date of adoption of this Decision, the National Monument shall be deleted from the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of BiH no. 33/02, Official Gazette of Republika Srpska no. 79/02, Official Gazette of the Federation of BiH no. 59/02, and Official Gazette of Brčko District BiH no. 4/03), where it featured under serial no. 481.




Pursuant to Art. V para 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, decisions of the Commission are final.





This Decision shall enter into force on the date of its adoption and shall be published in the Official Gazette of BiH.


This Decision has been adopted by the following members of the Commission: Zeynep Ahunbay, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović, Ljiljana Ševo and Tina Wik.


No: 07.1-2-52/04-4

20 January 2006



Chair of the Commission

Ljiljana Ševo


E l u c i d a t i o n




Pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a “National Monument” is an item of public property proclaimed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments to be a National Monument pursuant to Articles V and VI of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina  and property entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of  BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission reaches a final decision on its status, as to which there is no time limit and regardless of whether a petition for the property in question has been submitted or not.

The Commission to Preserve National Monuments issued a Decision to add the Gomionica Monastery to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 251.

Pursuant to the provisions of the law, the Commission proceeded to carry out the procedure for reaching a final decision to designate the Property as a National Monument, pursuant to Article V of Annex 8 and Article 35 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments.




In the procedure preceding the adoption of a final decision to proclaim the property a national monument, the following documentation was inspected:

  • Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land registry entry)
  • Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage, data on restoration or other works on the property, etc.
  • Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.


The findings based on the review of the above documentation and the condition of the site are as follows:


1. Details of the property


The Gomionica Monastery with its church dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin is located 42 km to the west of Banja Luka, beside the upper course of the eponymous river, in the village of Kmećani at the foot of the Zmijanje plateau (Ševo, p. 64).

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot nos. 1 and 3 (old survey), Land Register entry no. 56, cadastral municipality Kmećani, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

The wider Zmijanje area, which focuses on Gomionica as its spiritual centre, contains many vestiges of ancient civilizations dating from the Old and New Stone Ages and from the Bronze and Iron Ages(1).

There are no representative monuments dating from antiquity in the region, but the remains of Roman roads(2) are evidence of the importance of the province (Lower Pannonia) for communications.

In the high mediaeval period, the area became politically more important, as a result of which it is often to be found in written sources from the mid 13th century onwards under the name Donji Kraji.  In the final decades of the 13th century the feudal lord of the district was vojvoda Prijezda(3). 

Gomionica is in the area constituting the mediaeval župa (county) of Zemljani, which later became the Turkish nahija of Zmijanje. The importance of mediaeval Zelmjanik is underlined by the fortified towns deployed, as both fortifications and the residences of feudal lords, around the boundaries and in the interior of the county – Bočac, Greben and Zvečaj along the river Vrbas mark the eastern boundary of Zemljanik, and were also used as the residences of the Hrvatinić and Vojsalić noble families who inherited Prijezda's overlordship of Donji Kraji in the 14th and 15th centuries. The many necropolises with stećak tombstones scattered throughout Zmijanje are particularly persuasive evidence of the density of population of this area in mediaeval times. Some of these burial grounds have as many as a hundred or so large monolithic tombstones, most of them undecorated. The necropolises in Lusići, Plavšići, Prodole,  Gornje Ratkovo, and below Grčka Gradina in Lužije, each with 80 to 120 stećak tombstones, attest to the large, economically powerful populations that gave the mediaeval county its prosperity.  V. Škarić, Župa Zemljanik i stara nahija Zmijanje, Jnl of the National Museum, XLIX, vol. 1, Sarajevo 1937, 37-53 (Ševo, pp. 18,19). The district enjoys a marked authenticity of material and spiritual life, thanks largely to its centuries-old tradition as a cult site.

Numerous mining slag heaps, pits and underground passages are to be seen along the upper and central course of the river Gomionica, evidence of mining here since ancient times. The extraction of iron ore throughout the area was one of the basic economic activities in antiquity, too. The Gomionica river, the name of which may derive from the heaps of mine waste (gomila, in Bosnian: Gomilnica), powered the mining triturators, mechanisms for processing raw materials and metal ingots, which remained in use until the early 20th century(4).  

The downfall of the independent mediaeval Bosnian kingdom and the Turkish occupation in 1463 had no direct impact on the status of the district, given that that same year it became part of the Hungarian Jajce banate. From 1463 to 1527/28, when this territory also fell to the Turks, the Ottomans doubtless penetrated into the interior.

The Gomionica Monastery with its church dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin belongs to the Banja Luka eparchy, which covers the north-western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. ”This eparchy was founded in 1900 as a metropolitanate. Until then, these Serb regions were part of the Dabrobosnian metropolitanate.“ 

It is not possible to say with certainty when the monastery church in Gomionica was built or who was its founder, although it is very likely that there was an older church on the site of the present-day one, and that this church was merely the restoration or rebuilding of some older edifice.

More reliable information concerning the Gomionica monastery dates from the 15th century.There are three folk traditions concerning its origins.  According to one of these, Gomionica was an endowment of the Grand Župan Stefan Nemanja and of St. Sava.  Another account is that a certain Empress Mara founded the monastery.  Some associate these alleged founders with Sultana Mara, daughter of despot Đurađ Branković and wife of Sultan Murat II, and others with Mara, daughter of despot Jovan, who was married to Ferdinand Frankopan in 1592, but in neither case is the link with the Gomionica monastery corroborated. Đurađ Branković (1427-1456), second son of Vuk Branković and grandson of Prince Lazar on his mother’s side, became Serbian despot in 1427. His daughter Mara became the wife of Sultan Murat II (1435).

The earliest written evidence dates from 1540/41, when the monastery of Zalužje in the nahija of Zmijanje is referred to in a Turkish census defter.

The next Turkish document, dating from 1560, is a letter from the pasha to the authorities in Istanbul, which provides the information that “Abbot Andrija has been the superior of the Zalužje monastery, otherwise called Gomionica, for the past 24 years.” (Ševo, p. 23).

            The historical value of these documents is inestimable, since they lead inescapably to the conclusion that the monastery in Gomionica was in existence prior to 1536(5).  

The relatively late first mention of Gomionica in Turkish sources is dictated by the fact that the Ottomans organized their administrative authority over this region only after the fall of the Jajce banate. The absence of any reference to Gomionica in sources of Orthodox provenance – rollcalls, records and inscriptions – prior to the end of the 16th century can be explained by the disarray at the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the first half of the 16th century and the relative geographical isolation of north-western Bosnia from the mediaeval centres of Serbian spirituality, or by the fact that written records of Gomionica were destroyed on one or more of the many occasions when it was laid waste, as happened to other churches and monasteries,.

Systematic archaeological excavations conducted beneath the floor of the existing church in the Gomionica monastery revealed no traces of any older place of worship, which does not mean that there was none, if it had been built from fragile timber materials(6).  It is possible that finds of a number of graves without gravegoods in the old and the new parvis of the existing church were associated with an older building, the more so since one of the graves was located beneath the wall separating the original parvis from the nave of the existing church, evidence that it predates the church. A Roman coin also found during the archaeological excavations in the church also leads one to suppose a still older, late antique past for this place of worship. It is clear, on the basis of the general historical picture and these documents and finds, that the formation of the monastic community in Gomionica (Zalužje) can be sought in times prior to the earliest reference to it.

A consideration of the general historical circumstances and a comparison of the architectural and visual features of similar buildings does, however, enable one to make certain assumptions.

Following the restoration of the Peć patriarchate in 1557, at a time of relatively favourable circumstances, when it was headed by patriarchs from the Sokolović family, towards the end of the 1570s, a large number of damaged monastery churches were restored and painted – the Peć patriarchal church c. 1565, Mileševa c. 1567, Studenica in 1568, Gračanica in 1570, St Nicholas in Banja near Priboj in 1572, Morača in 1574-78, Lomnica in 1578/79(7). Until recently, scholars believed that 1557 was the date prior to which there is no reference to the origins of Orthodox monasteries in northern and north-western Bosnia. The paintings in the dome of the Gomionica church are also dated to between 1560 and 1580, and associated with the work of the group of painters that came together around the Patriarchate, renovating the Peć frescoes and then those of Studenica and Gračanica(8). [Translator’s note: the highlighted section is marked as deleted in the Bosnian version, but there is reference under fn 14 to the insertion of a new fn, no. 15, following the highlighted passage.  This footnote has been duly inserted pending clarification of these contradictory alterations.]

The construction of the church in Gomionica would thus precede by some years the frescoes, subsequent to the mid 1560s. Some scholars, however, have allowed the possibility that the old Gomionica frescoes, and as a result the date of origin of the church, date to before 1557, on the basis of the marked similarity between the Gomionica frescoes with the now wholly destroyed fragments of murals in the church of Rmanj monastery(9). The architectural features of the churches in Gomionica and Rmanj also show marked similarities. Dating the construction or restoration of the Gomionica church to the same period or even earlier accords with the historical circumstances described and with the details from Turkish documents(10).

It is clear from the available historical material that the monastic community in Gomionica-Zalužje is older than 1536, and that the monastery church could have been built before that date.

In 1891 a hieromonk (ordained monk) of Gomionica and Moštanica, German Jovanović, read a now lost inscription in a manuscript of the Gomionica gospels, which is the basis of the hypothesis that Gomionica was founded in the late 16th century by monks from Mileševa. Since this source no longer exists, it is impossible to inspect it and to determine whether it does indeed relate to 1590 or, perhaps, to 1790, as suggested by Petar Momirović, thus far the person most familiar with the history of the Gomionica monastery, who clearly demonstrated in later studies that the hypothesis that Mileševa monks founded Gomionica is untenable(11).

The next reliable reference to the monastery is a note dating from 1599 in the manuscript Typicon of St. Sava the Canonized, in the eparchy library in Arad. The note also records that the Typicon was transcribed in Gomionica that year, under Abbot Diomidija, hieromonk at the time of the Bosnian Metropolitan kir (sir) Aksentije and the Serbian Patriarch Jovan(12). 

A manuscript Psalter, with posledovanje(13), also from the collection of the Arad eparchy library, contains a note dated 4 January 1612 composed by the scribe Maksim, who says of himself that he was a monk from Mt. Athos who had just arrived in Gomionica and there, during the time of Abbot Jovan, completed the transcription of this book, which had been begun by hieromonk Jeftimije.

As a note records, on 25 August 1626 the well-known scribe from Hilandar Averkije completed the transcription of a Chrysostom in St. Sava's anchorite's cell in Karyes on Mt. Athos, to the order of the former Superior of the monastery known as Gomionica, hieromonk Antonije.  Hieromonk Antonije sent the manuscript to Gomionica as a gift.  A silver-gilt cross made for the Gomionica monastery in 1640 is now owned by London University. This is the work of the famous goldsmith Stefan Ivanović Sarajevac, and was made in Sombor, where he made magnificent crosses and panegyria for other Orthodox monasteries as well – Moštanica and Orahovica(14).

In the first half of the 17th century, hieromonk Jovan Svetogorac (of Mt. Athos), who was of Bosnian origin, took his monasties vows in the Gomionica monastery, as recorded by a note in a Palm Sunday Triodion printed in Trgovište in Wallachia in 1648/49(15).  

Until World War II the Beočin monastery contained a Commemorative Book of Rače Monastery, now lost. This referred to a number of 17th century monks from Gomionica from the time prior to the ravages inflicted on it in the Austro-Turkish wars of 1683 to 1699.

It is clear from of these sources, and the valuable works of art ordered fore the monastery during the first half of the 17th century, that at that time the monastery had many monks, who maintained spiritual and cultural links with centres throughout the Orthodox worls and who were wealthy enough to enrich their community with valuable works of art. 

The great Serb population shifts sparked by the defeat of the Austrian army and its retreat following its advance to Niš in 1689 also affected this region. A number of Gomionica manuscripts housed in the eparchy library in Arad contain notes dating from 1707 and 1716 referring to the fact that these books were previously in the Hodoš monastery (in Banat). The notes were made at a later date, meaning that the maniscripts reached Hodoš some years prior to these dates. This suggests that the monks of Gomionica were forced to flee to Hodoš and there to conceal the monastery's valuables.   When this happened, and whether the monastery was wholly abandoned during the last decade of the 17th and first decade of the 18th century, cannot be determined with certitude.

A note composed in 1714 in a manuscript in the National Library in Belgrade records that the Dabrobosnian Metropolitan, Meletije, was in Gomionica at that time. On this occasion he ordained a priest, which would indicate that by that date the Gomionica brotherhood were no longer refugees in the north but had returned to their monastery. The monastery is then referred to in a report by an anonymous Austrian spy, who was touring the area between 1718 and 1739, gathering intelligence for the Austrian army. Among his notes was reference to  .. ein Kaluger Kloscer Gomionicza... but with no further details.

The Serbian Patriarch Arsenije IV visited Gomionica for the Feast of the Annunciation in 1726, and in 1735 or 1737 a donation was made to the monastery of twelve monthly Meneons and other books issued in Moscow, with notes on the contributors. 

The war forced the monks once again to leave Gomionica, under Abbot Pahomije Knežević, taking with them the valuables from the monastery treasury, and to seek temporary asylum in the more peaceful regions of the north. In 1738 they received a permit to settle in the abandoned monastery of Pakra, which they acquired as a permanent holding in 1743.  Some of them settled in Pakra for good, but a number of monks probably returned to Gomionica.  Perhaps only some of the brotherhood fled to Slavonia, since deacon Simo Gomionac inscribed his name in a manuscript of the Žitomislić monastery in 1743.

Evidence that the brotherhood had once again assembled in Gomionica with effect from the start of the 1840s is to be found in a note recording that in 1742 Ajvaz Mehmed-Pasha fined the Gomionica monastery and the timar priests Lazo and Damjan a thousand groschen(16).

Five years later, as Nikodim, author of a note in the Gomionica manuscript Sermons of the Holy Fathers, reports, the monastery church was renovated and re-roofed, this in the time of Abbot Serafim.  Since the note records that the renovation works lasted from 26 August to 21 October, it may be assumed that they were not extensive.

Another three notes record the renovation of 1747 – one in a manuscript of the Gospels found in the parish church of the village of Jošavka and two in a Gomionica manuscript Psalter housed in the collection of the National Library in Sarajevo(17). 

In 1747 a donation was made to the monastery of a decorated choir stand, and the Exarch of the Dabrobosnian Metropolitan, Gavrilo, contributed a copper collection plate. 

In December 1754, the Dabrobosnian Metropolitan Gavrilo stayed in the monastery.  He visited it again in 1761, when he purchased a Gomionica Missal there.

An incomplete inscription on the omphalion, or circle of the Mother of God, in the timber-built church in the village of Šljivno in Manjača refers to kir Danilo and the Gomionica abbot, a hieromonk, whose name has unfortunately not survived.

There is also information about the donors of icons given to the old timber-built church of the village of Javorani, written by the hieromonk already referred to, Nikodim Gomioničanin, in 1757 and 1758, when the church was consecrated(18).

A note on a piece of torn paper, dated 1770, refers to a second renovation of Gomionica, begun in 1769 and completed on 15 September of that or the following year; it is not clear which(19).

A Russian-printed Gospel was given to Gomionica in 1771, an asterisk, tričelo (trikeron? – trans) and tepsija (paten? – trans) in 1774, two brass candlesticks in 1775, a petohljebnica (Sacred Host tray) in 1776, and six thousand aspers from the old Serbian church in Sarajevo.

In 1774 the names of nine Gomionica monks are mentioned: Silvestar, Neofit, Mojsej, Danilo, (abbot 1766) Savatije, Dimitrije, Stefan, Dionisije and Gavrilo. The name of hatji-abbot (pilgrim-abbot) Silvestar, of the Stanivuković family, was written on 1777 on the reverse of an icon from the timber-built church of the village of Kolo in Zmijanje. This is certainly the same hieromonk Silvestar who composed many notes in Gomionica in 1747 and transcribed an Alexandride.

Two notes in Gomionica books dating from 1795 pertain to the Austro-Hungarian war of 1788-1791, but were composed in the Rmanj monastery, where the books were housed at that time, only later reaching Gomionica.

A note dating from 1811 in two Gomionica books refers to contributions to the monastery in the form of building materials and cash.

The plague that struck this part of the Balkans, lasting from 1813 to 1816, also affected the Gomionica region, as recorded by a note by monk Meletije, one of nine brothers who were in Gomionica in 1816, when the note was composed. 

In 1833 to 1836 Ana, one of two cousins from Kmećani who had taken their vows after the plague and fled to Sarajevo to escape the violence, returned to the monastery.  Ana brought with her a contribution to the monastery from Sarajevo – two epitrachelions, a framed icon of the Virgin, and a silver icon lamp(20).

In 1836, Sincellus Silvestar Vukosiljevin of Slatina near Banja Luka donated a gilded filigree cross to Gomionica, as recorded in the donor's inscription on the foot of the cross(21).

The next account of Gomionica dates from 1839, in a note referring to adversity, poverty, pestilence among livestock, the arbitrary conduct of the aristocracy, the opreession of the Vizier's spies, and the introduction of the nizam (military service).

The travel writer I. F. Jukić visited Gomionica in 1843 and recorded his impressions(22). The superior of the monastery at that time is known to have been Abbot Dionisije, and the monastery is known to have been in debt to a Banja Luka usurer, Dedo Krajišnik. The abbot bought him out for a hundred purses in 1851.

In 1853 Partenije Davidović, later superior of the monastery and the hero of Kočić's prose(23),   took his vows in Gomionica.

During the Knežopolje revolt of 1858, the monastery paid a ransom of four thousand ducats, for some unknown reason, and it seems that at that time or somewhat later Gomionica was torched and looted, after which renovations were carried out ijn 1861, 1865 and 1868(24).

During the time of Abbot Partenije Davidović, books were purchased for the monastery; the old monastery konak was extended and given an additional floor, the church was re-roofed, a timber belltower was built, and the outer parvis was added, a house was bought in Banja Luka and the monastery school was built in 1882-1884.

In the announcement of the death of Abbot Partenije published in the Dabrosnian Sourcebook for 1889, there is reference to the monastery being set on fire, with the date 1867, but in the absence of precise details it is not known whether Gomionica burned down that year or whether it was then that Abbot Partenije began to renovate it following a fire(25).

In 1880 Gerasim Kočin, father of Petar Kočić, took his vows in Gomionica as a priest. At some time in the1880s Petar's younger brother Ilija also took his vows, and 1887 the great writer himself went to the monastery school.

In or around 1900 the church of the Gomionica monastery was once again repaired.  According to one account, in 1898 the church was plastered and a tall belltower was erected alongside it. The old roof was replaced by copper tiles in 1927.

The monastery was damaged in World War II. Abbot Serafim Štrkić was killed by the Ustasha in 1941. In December the Germans bombed the monastery, badly damaging the first floor of the konak and the monastery school, and causing the vaults and arches of the crown lines of the church to crack.

After the war Gomionica was turned into a nunnery. The first nuns and their priest, protosincellus Vasilije Strilček, were Orthodox Ukrainians from the Prnjavor region.

In 1953 the Gomionica monastery was designated as a cultural monument, and repairs were carried out in 1971-1976 following the earthquake that struck the Banja Luka region in 1969 and exacerbated the damage to the church. It was then that the boundary wall of the monastery churchyard was conserved, and the low arched entrance gate in the northern part of the wall was demolished. Repair works were also carried out on the Gomionica monastery church in 1982, when old frescoes were discovered in the dome under a more recent coat of wall painting dating from the 19th century. Structural repairs to the church and further research and restoration to the old murals were carried out in 1994-1997.


2. Description of the property

The architectural ensemble of the Gomionica monastery consists of the church dedicated to the Visitation of the Virgin, the old konak building, parts of the old boundary wall, the old fountain in the churchyard, and the old village cemetery by the monastery. The property also includes the new konak building and a number of outbuildings.

The monastery church belongs to the type of single nave church with longitudinal rebated arches, dome and semicircular altar apse(26). For the most part it has retained to this day its original appearance. Its harmonious proportions, ground plan and mass (the width of the church and the height of the vault amounting to half the length of the original building) betray the skill of the builder. It is hard to identify who the builder was, or whence he originated(27). 

The changes wrought by time are mainly to be seen in later additions – the outer parvis added at the end of the 1860s, and the belltower built onto the church in about 1889 to 1900, as well as in the roof cladding.

The church is rectangular in ground plan.  The semicircular altar apse is narrower and than the central nave of the church and only half its height.

The interior of the church consists of:

-          the later addition of the outer parvis with steps to the belltower,

-          the inner parvis,

-          the nave, and

-          the altar area.


All these sections of the church fall away gradually from east to west, i.e. from the altar area to the entrance to the building.

The original church was about 16.50 m long on the outside, not including the apse, or more than 17.69 m including the apse; in width it measures 8.37 m. Including the extension of the parvis at the west end, it is 26.60 m in length. 

The built-on outer parvis is simple, rectangular in ground plan, and of the same width as the old edifice (8.30 m), with a length of 5.30 m. Until 1994 it  had a ceiling of planks and reeds with plastered (the appearance has now been restored by installing a reinforced concrete shell). Traces of the beams in the upper sections of the longitudinal walls are still to be seen, indicating that the original ceiling was wooden. The wooden steps leading from the western section of the outer parvis to the gallery were removed during the latest conservation and restoration works, and replaced by new ones, also wooden. Steps lead directly from the gallery to the belltower.

The inner parvis is separated from the nave by a wall with three round-arched passageways.  There is a large arched opening above the central, highest passageway. The parvis measures approx. 6.70 x 4.80 m on the inside. It has a longitudinal barrel vault at the same height as the vault of the west aisle of the nave. This vault is upheld by two pairs of lower transverse vaults resting on two pillars, similar to the treatment of the upper structure of the nave. There is an arched passageway at the base of these pillars. The original entrance to the church is in the west wall, where, to judge from the similarity of size, there was a wooden door carved in bas relief with geometric designs. This door is now at the entrance to the outer parvis. The wall separating the outer from the inner parvis, which was originally the west façade of the church, has an arched niche in line with the door, with above it a round-arched window offset towards the north wall.

The nave: on the outside, the church has a simple rectangular outline executed in the upper reaches, above the central part of the nave. There is a dome above the eastern bay of the nave, borne on four massive pilasters measuring 74 x 74 cm, at the base of which is an arched passageway 90 cm wide, giving the interior the illusion of triple-aisled church.

The western bay of the nave has a longitudinal barrel vault upheld by two narrow transverse barrel vaults, while the similar pair of vaults in the eastern bay take the weight of the dome via wide archivolts and pendentives.

Both inside and out, the dome has a cylindrical drum and a somewhat shallow calotte. The ground plan of a compressed crux imissa is emphasized in the roof area by an extension of the cubic base on which the dome rests, the north and south sides of which are the extension of the longitudinal walls of the church. The central longitudinal vault of the church is 8 m in height and the dome 12 metres.

The short longitudinal barrel vault over the altar rests, like that of the western bay of the nave, on a pair of narrow transverse vaults resting on the longitudinal walls, while the altar conch has a deep semicalotte ceiling.

The altar area is the same width as the nave of the church. The diaconicon is separated from the central altar area by a 30 cm thick wall in which is a small arched passageway. The diaconicon is enlarged at the expense of the outer walls, which are at their thinnest in this part of the building. The interior of the diaconicon has a transverse barrel vault, and a narrow window in the south wall. There is the niche of an altar (protasis) in the northern part of the altar, and a rectangular hollow for an icon lamp in the north wall. The south wall of the diaconicon also has a rectangular niche which was later widened (Ševo, p. 45). The small monk's door in the north wall is probably original, although it appears that at some time changes were made to the upper structure of this part of the interior, to be exact to the entrance to the altar from the nave, which until the latest interventions consisted of carelessly laid low wooden beams, now replaced by a vault. The single door of this north entrance is decorated with bas relief carving of the same geometric designs as the door of the main entrance to the church.

The roof of the church is gabled, and clad with sheet copper. The roof conceals the interior exuberance of the upper structure. The cuboid base of the dome is covered by a hipped roof the east and west sides of which intersect with the gabled roof over the rest of the building. The calotte over the cylindrical drum of the dome is clad with a conical roof and is of harmonious proportions, while the semicalotte over the conch of the apse has a roof in the shape of a half-cone (Ševo, p. 46) (28). The roof structure of the church was completely replaced during the latest works, in the light of the unusual condition discovered dureing repair works -  a second cladding of copper had been laid directly over the shingle roof cladding. Both roofs were removed and replaced by a new roof structure clad with copper tiles. By lowering the height of the roof over the 19th century parvis extension, the old part of the building was separated from the new, underlining its original harmonious proportions.

The outer walls of the church are 80 cm thick, and made of quarry stone with lime mortar as binder. Until 1994 the church was lime-mortar plastered on the outside, aparet from a low socle where the stone was visible(29). The façades were decorated with rustic plasterwork. The vaults and arches in the interior of the church are of well-cut tufa, visible only in part of the diaconicon.

The drum of the dome has its four original windows, set east-west and north-south. These are narrow and arched. One such window has also survived in the diaconicon, in the south wall of the altar area,  and during conservation and restoration works in 1994 an original window was also discovered in the south wall of the old parvis. At some point after the addition of the new parvis this window was walled up using adobe brick. The other windows were probably of the same shape: two in the outer walls, one in the central altar apse, and one in the north wall of the altar, in the area of the prothesis.  One irregular-arched window was also discovered during the 1994 works in the north wall of the outer, added parvis. This had also been walled up using adobe brick, probably at the same time as the south window of the old parvis(30). The floor of the church slopes gradually down from east to west and was originally paved with irregularly-shaped pieces of polished stone. The ambon rosette of petal-like structure is made of stone slabs of various colours.

Traces of fire were discovered on all the walls during the latest works on the church; these were most marked in the area around the windows and the passageway from the outer to the inner parvis(31). When the exterior walls of the building were strengthened with reinforced concrete, the timber tiebeams of the original building were discovered above the former main entrance to the building, in the western section of the inner parvis.  In this former main portal there was a hollow serving to close the the solid wood doors by means of a crossbeam.

The architectural decoration of the church in Gomionica is reduced to a series of shallow arched niches below the cornice of the dome, in which the last faint traces of painted decoration by the unskilled hand of the 19th century renovator survived on the plaster removed in 1994.

Murals from two periods survive on the walls of the Gomionica church, older ones discovered during research works in 1982, and more recent ones in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997.

The older murals were discovered in the dome of the church, the pendentives, the eastern arch below the dome, the entire altar area, and some very small fragments on the walls, arches and vaults of the domed bay of the nave. Presumably the whole of the original Gomionica church, apart from the inner parvis, was decorated with frescoes.  When discussing the murals, Zdravko Kajmaković seeks the artist who painted these frescoes among the masters from the workshop who renovated the murals in the Peć and Gračanica parvises, Mileševa, the church of the Virgin in Studenica and St Nicholas in Banja near Priboj in the 1560s and 1570s, although he does admit the possibility that his work could precede the painting of the so-called Peć studio.  Ljiljana Ševo also says of the repertoire of the frescoes in the Gomionica dome that they are not out of harmony with the paintings from the domes of 16th century Serb churches such as those to be seen in the King's church in Studenica, Gračanica, the church of the Virgin in Peć or in Dečani.

The more recent murals in the Gomionica church date from the 19th century. They are still visible on the walls and vaults of the west bay in the nave of the church. They probably date from the time when the church was renovated in 1865-1868 by Abbot Partenije Davidović.

Another surviving fresco, of the Virgin and Child seated on a throne behind wehich are two cherubim, is to be found on the east wall of the old Gomionica konak, within a room created by the later partition of the original monastery refectory. This fresco dates from the 17th century.

In the calotte of the Gomionica church is a painting of the bust of Christ Pantocrator in a medallion, surrounded by a white band with a text from Psalm 101 (102) in brown calligraphic lettering, g= sa n(e)be(s) zeml- prizpe sli{ati vazdihanªe %kovanix= ´ vazdr+{ti sin 'mr{vlenih ´ vazb+stiti v= s%i+ ime g(o)s(pod)ne i hval' *go v= ªer(usa)l(i)m+. (32)   Below the medallion with the bust of Christ, at the top of the drum is a painting of the Heavenly Liturgy,, vi{nia l(i)trga, with the table and Christ the Lamb on a paten to the east.  Before the Lamb kneel ten angels serving the liturgy, carrying icons mounted on wooden staffs, the Gospels, censers and a canopy above their heads. Christ as the first priest, who should be performing the ritual of the Liturgy as is the iconographic norm, is not featured. Behind the table is a six-winged seraphim.

            Below this band, in the cylinder of the drum, are the painted figures of twelve standing, full frontal figures of prophets, three between each of the windows of the drum. All the prophets, with the exception of Daniel and Zechariah, are holding unrolled scrolls with prophetic texts, written in brown calligraphic script. The Prophet Haggai is holding a scroll bearing the words: da vazrado<*t se d{a moga %gi %ble~eme va rizo< spsia, The Prophet Gideon has a scroll with the text: re~ gede%i ka go< a{e spse{i ro<ko- moe- ... la polo .. rok .. ' .., and is holding a fleece – the symbol of Christ's incarnation from his prophecy – in his other hand. Beside him is The Prophet Jonah with the text: vazapih va pe~ali moei ka go< bo< mo*mo< i o<sl={am; next come the Prophet Daniel, holding a rock, the prefiguration of the coming of Christ, Zechariah with a rolled scroll, and Elias, on whose scroll only part of the text has survived: ... ilªa ka .. The Prophet Sophonius is holding a scroll with the text: bl(ago)s(lo)v(e)n= g= b= i slav= _ko poseti i. Tvori izbavlenªe dem= svoim. On the Prophet Aaron's scroll are the words: pridet vazidem= gor' gio< i ba dom= ba akova, while that of the Prophet Moses has the usual text:  ko<pino< te vl(a)d(i)se veli va na~ale mo<si zre predoisa{_ `e gor{i (Moses. II bk. Exodus, 3,7; Acts, 7:30,35).  After them are the Prophet Isaiah with the text: _ko %tro~e rodi se ... m.i.. (Is. 7,4) Jeremiah with the text: ...in= k= i+in' zaobrt. v=sk= po<=. and Habbakuk whose scroll bears the words: gi o<cli{i slo<h= tvoi i ... They are standing below a double crossing of semicircular light arcades (the last four below narrow pointed arches) from which seven angels are emerging holding scrolls, painted as busts or merely as outstretched hands, symbols of the divine inspiration of the prophets.

Fragments of plaster were discovered in the pendentives of the Gomionica dome on which images of the evangelists had been painted.  In the south-eastern pendentive, the surviving painted areas show the roof of a building of some kind, the capitals of pillars with drapes hanging between them, and an inscription beside the (missing) figure of St John the Evangelist - &% bgslov=.   In the south-western pendentive there remained only part of an inscription denoting St Matthew the Evangelist - mat>ei.  None of the original painting has survived in the north-western pendentive, while in the north-eastern pendentive fragments of the halo of St Luke the Evangelist have survived together with a painted background of architecture and the inscription louka e<glist=.  Between these are holy figures of Christ – to the east on the Linen Facecloth, in a better state of preservation, with parts of the outstandingly well proportioned face of Christ on the carefully decorated, pleated fabric of the Mandilion, and to the west on a Keramion, of which only part of the cinnabar background survives.  On the arch between the nave and the altar, a very small area of painted plaster has survived, with part of an inscription, proro, from which one may deduce that there were the figures of prophets on this area.

In the conch of the altar apse, the figures of the Mother of God Spanning the Heavens, in the Orante pose, with hands held out in prayer, with a heart-shaped medallion on her breast in which is the figure of the Christ-Child around whom are tongues of flame. This type of presentation demonstrates that the artist of the Gomionica frescoes had decided to show an Old Testament allusion to the Virgin – the Burning Bush, the vision of the Prophet Moses. The Archangel Gabriel is kneeling to the Virgin to the south and Archangel Michael to the north, dressed in the garments of a ruler.  In the sickle-shaped area above the conch, fragments of painted mortar have survived, probably from a scene of the Annunciation.  It is impossible to make out with certainty, from a very small fragment of old fresco at the base of the southern half of the altar vault, whether this section contained a composition of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles or perhaps the subject of the Hospitability of Abram.  At ground floor level in the altar area, to the south of the altar window, part of the figure of St John the Almsgiver, holding a scroll on which is inscribed the text of a prayer from the liturgy of St John Chrysostom, ko blg= (~l)vkol-(bs) b= *ci (teb+) slavu (vozc)ila(*)m (%t)c(')i si', suggesting that this figure was part of a composition of the Gifts of the Archhierarchs to Christ the Lamb. To the south of St John the Almsgiver is the surviving head of a young saint, beside which is part of an inscription - st= lar (possibly St Deacon Laurentius). This figure is facing frontally, meaning that it was not part of the procession of archhierarchs bowing to Christ the Lamb.

The socle of the is decorated with a design in the shape of a drape or tricolour band, while on the socle area of the north wall of the prothesis, a fragment survives that could represent part of the body of some fantastic animal, possibly the monster swallowing Arius from the subject of Peter of Alexandria, although the small area and poorly recognizable features of this frament do not allow for the subject to be identified with certainty.  The prothesis niche has a painting of the Virgin with the Infant Christ in her arms; the heads of both figures are now missing.  A small fragment of the original fresco plaster survives on the eastern doorjamb of the round-arched passageway from the altar into the diaconicon, with decoration in the form of multicoloured marbling, the same as that on the cornice of the dome.

While the frescoes on the dome are quite well preserved, thanks to the fact that the more recent, 19th century painter laid his pigments direct over the old painted surface, a coat of plaster was applied over the frescoes in the altar, which were scraped with a sharp tool to ensure that the plaster adhered properly. The frescoes in the altar, triumphal arch and pendentives are very badly damaged by cracks in the building, whereas the damage to the figures in the prothesis niche is probably the result of vandalism.  These frescoes in the altar, arch and pendentives were covered with plaster well before the end of the 19th century, when the entire nave and altar were painted on a new plaster base. During the 1994-1997 conservation works, yet another coat of plaster was found laid over the original fresco plaster but beneath the 19th century base. Presumably the damage to the old frescoes came about during some structural damage to the church, or perhaps when the brotherhood were absent as refugees. It is not possible to ascertain when the frescoes were covered with a coat of plaster, but judging from the several coats of whitewash over the plaster that preceded the late 19th century base, these areas must have been whitewashed on several occasions, which would shift the date of the damage to the original frescoes on the altar walls into the more distant past.

The style of the Gomionica frescoes in the dome, pendentives and altar reveals the talent and painterly knowledge of the artists. 

The figures are skillfully proportioned and modelled, with the figures of the prophets well-built in stature and elegant in stance and movement. The folds of the draped clothing on the painted figures are executed with wide, powerful brush-strokes in three shades of the basic colour, enhancing the sense of depth. 

The talent and experience of the Gomionica protomaster are also revealed in the treatment of the faces. The basic skin tone is a lightish olive-brown, the broader highlighted areas are executed in light ochre with no carmine, which he does not even use when painting the lips. The basic modelling of the face is achieved by graduating these tones, and the face is brought to life by highlighting with clusters of small white lines. These are used to accentuate the oval area beneath the eyes, the lines around the eyes, the cheekbones, the base and ridge of the nose, and the nostrils. These highlights are dense, the brush-strokes are not always parallel nor of the same width, in which the graphicism of the Gomionica artist differs from that of Cretan masters. 

The Gomionica artist used a restricted basic palette – red, ochre, pink and, very occasionally, green and blue. He does not neglect the importance of colour when composing his scenes, with the intersection arch segments above the prophets (the light arcade) painted alternately light blue and cinnabar in three shades, and the angels appearing between them as the personification of inspiration are regularly wearing fabric of the same colour as the clothing of the prophet above whom they are painted.

The protomaster of the Gomionica frescoes also had a developed sense of detail – the hems of the draperies, the crowns, and the band on the codex in the Pantocrator's hand are richly decorated with designs of rows of pearls, dark red ellipses or quadrifoil rubies, while ochre hatching replaces gilding.  His calligraphy is harmoniously decorative, with the accurate charter lettering, and the almost faultless literacy reveals him as an educated creative artist.  In all the texts he inscribed – from the Psalms in the ring of the drum to the scrolls held by the prophets – semi-vowels are vocalized, i.e. replaced by vowels, usually a,as a result of which, for instance, v= is replaced throughout by ba, which is typical of linguistic forms more recent than the 15th century.

Although the artistic repertoire is limited, because of the relatively small number of surviving subjects, it is still possible to ascertain that it is largely typical, so that not much can be deduced from the basic programme and iconography of the paintings concerning the origins of the artist except to state that he belongs to the artistic trends of his day, which used the frescoes of 14th century edifices as their programmatic and iconographic model. It should be noted, however, that placing the Virgin and Christ in the prothesis niche is not a typical choice for programmes contemporary with Gomionica, in which this location is usually chosen for the dead Christ in the tomb (Imago pietatis). The allusion to the Burning Bush painted on the Gomionica fresco of the Mother of God Spanning the Heavens, too, is not a common iconographic choice in the apsidal conches of 16th century Serbian churches.

When discussing the Gomionica frescoes, Zdravko Kajmaković seeks the artist who painted them among the masters from the workshop who renovated the murals in the Peć and Gračanica parvises, Mileševa, the church of the Virgin in Studenica and St Nicholas in Banja near Priboj in the 1560s and 1570s, although he does admit the possibility that his work could precede the painting of the so-called Peć studio. Among these artists, who were engaged by the Serbian patriarchs, three names are known – Andrija, who signed his name in the Peć parvis, Leontije, who signed himself as the illuminator of manuscripts, and Longin, the greatest Serbian artist of this time, who decorated most of the church of the Lomnica monastery with frescoes in 1577/1578 and who also painted numerous icons.

The flawless artistic interpretation of the basic theological concept of the Gomionica programme, suggests that the Gomionica protomaster could have acquired this knowledge in a workshop engaged by senior church dignitaries. 

The programmatic and iconographic details referred to that are not encountered in monuments decorated with frescoes do however suggest the possibility that the Gomionica artist was training elsewhere. A consideration of the stylistic elements of the frescoes in Gomionica reveals some other features not met with in the work of the Peć artists, such as the more emphatic individual lines of the faces of some of the prophets, the characteristically curving pose of their bodies and, in particular, the way the fabrics are draped using broad free brush-strokes, contributing to a distinct impression of geometricized cylindrical forms.

Small fragments of the original fresco plaster were discovered on the walls of the south and north choirs, on the west side of the north-eastern pilaster, and in the underside of the western arch below the dome. The largest surviving surfaces were in the socle area. On the upper sections of the walls and the pilaster, the traces of old frescoes that were found amount to just a few square centimetres, with the remains of dark blue background pigment and light ochre, such as that used by the old artist in the altar area, dome and pendentives; it is only on the underside of the arch that an image can be made out – part of the foot of a standing figure. These vestiges suggest that the nave of the Gomionica church was frescoed at the same time as the dome and altar. Since the original fresco plaster of the socle extends from the bay below the dome and onto the walls of the western bay, from the upper surface of which the more recent 19th century painting has not been removed, it is almost certain that the painter of the Gomionica dome and altar frescoes also painted the western bay, meaning that the whole of the original Gomionica church apart from the inner parvis was decorated with frescoes.

A frescoe of the Virgin and the Infant Christ on a throne behind which are two cherubim has survived on the east wall of the old Gomionica konak, within the room created by the later partition of the original monastery refectory.  After the 1996 conservation works, it turned out that the subject had been surrounded by a painted band with a design of carefully drawn palmettes. Although now quite badly damaged, with the coat of pigment much worn, the fresco captivates by the beauty of the figures of the Virgin and cherubim, and with its harmony, symmetry of composition, fluentn lines and sophisticated chromatic strains of red, blue and brown tones, modelled with ochre.  It is hard to identify when this niche was painted and by whom, although certain details, such as the pigments applied in impasto on the faces, the way the throne is decorated, and the approach to the treatment of the figures of the cherubim, suggest a 17th century date. Judging from the incision on the plaster with a sharp instrument, not only of the basic contours of the figures, but also of the lines of the folds of drapery, which is not present on the frescoes in the church, and from the meticulous approach to the painting of the ornamentation of the carved throne and the decorative nature of the palmettes in the bands surrounding the composition, which differ markedly from the powerful brush-strokes and a certain impetuosity in the hand of the artist who painted the frescoes in the Gomionica church, it can be safely said that he did not paint the fresco in the konak. 

The walls and vaults of the western bay of the nave of the Gomionica church arenow decorated with murals dating from the chaotic years of the 19th century, around the time of the renovation undertaken in 1865-1868 by Abbot Partenije Davidović. In 1889 the priest Jovo Novaković wrote of these murals that they merely covered the older frescoes, which had survived in the dome, but had already been whitewashed over in the rest of the church(33). In 1891 the hieromonk of Gomionica and Moštanica, German Jovanović, noted in the now lost manuscript of the Gospels of the Gomionica monastery: Recently Abbot Partenija Davidović had the church painted, but it would have been better if he had not, since the paintings are a parody of our saints(34).

The more recent Gomionica artist repeated almost in its entirety the older programme of the dome paintings and the frescoes in the pendentives, with the exception of the scenes of the Mandilion and Keramion, which he left out of his programme. The late 19th century artist painted the figure of the Mother of God Spanning the Heavens in the conch of the altar, the Holy Trinity in the altar vault, and the scene of the dead Christ in the  tomb in the altar niche, while above the diaconicon he set a scene of St Elias in the desert. The older programme was repeated at ground-floor level in the altar – liturgists bowing to Christ the Lamb; the first zone of the nave has waistlength figures of martyrs, holy fathers and hermits. The wall and underside of the vault of the north choir has a scene of the Assumption of the Virgin, with a large number of episodes and participants; he painted the Ascension of Christ on the wall in the central section of the south choir; the eastern part of the underside of the vault abutting onto the south wall of the nave was decorated with a scene of the Visitation of the Virgin to the temple, and the western part had a scene of the Nativity of the Virgin. The south wall of the western bay showed the figure of St George on horseback killing the dragon, and the north wall had St Demetrius trampling the emperor who was persecuting Christians.

The paintings in question are executed using a poor and inconsistent fresco technique. 

The figures and scenes illustrating personalities and events from Christian history on the walls and vaults are beyond doubt the work of just one artist. The figures are poorly proportioned, the eyes, mouths and hands are coarsely drawn, the pose is static or, if they are in movement, clumsy. The decorations on their clothes are simplistic and uniform, and the scenes are awkwardly constructed.  The background is painted blue of uneven intensity. The inscriptions by the figures and scenes are written without skill, in black lettering, revealing an almost illiterate artist, who writes some of the names in the local, spoken form: by St. Panteleon he wrote je PAN-TELIA, and by the figure of St Elias in the desert, C(VE)TI ILIA SPAVA.

            Attempting to identify the artist who painted these frescoes, Đoko Mazalić began by comparing them with an icon of the Virgin from the collection of the Old Church in Sarajevo, signed by Todor Stanić Gračanić, a late 19th century artist. Possibly a more acceptable hypothesis is Zdravko Kajmaković's, that the artist in question was the one who painted a Moštanica icon of St Cyriac and St George, bearing the signature of Guro Zvonar. There is also a marked similarity between these murals and the 19th century Gomionica throne icons of the Virgin with Christ and Christ Pantocrator. Christ's icon bears the date 1870, which agrees in date with Abbot Parentije's renovationbs. The iconostasis of the timber-built church in Rakelići near Prijedor also has similar features to those of these frescoes.» (Ševo, 2002, 55-73).

The bell tower of the Gomionica church was built in 1900, according to local residents(35). The present-day bell tower measures 3.60 x 4.80 m in plan, and has an overall height of 16.50 m. At ground-floor level the structure rests on two piers and two pilasters (a tetrapylon system).  Vertically, it is divided into three sections by string-courses, with round windows in the second section and high, arched windows in the third. The roof of the bell tower is in line with the baroque stylistic expression, and thus clashes markedly with the architecture of the original building.

The old boundary wall of the church was made of blocks of quarry stone. There are arched gateways to the south and north, probably dating from one of the 19th century renovations.

The old konak building is in the north-western part of the monastery precinct. It is a simple rectangle in plan, measuring 19.70 x 9 metres, and has a basement, ground floor, first floor and attic space.

The original konak building was about a third shorter than the present one, and according to the information in Abbot Partenije Davidović's obituary, it was set on fire by the Turks in 1867, after which the abbot extended the building and added another storey. The whitewashed façades of the building are undecorated, and have a great many rectangular windows, rather smaller on the ground floor than on the first floor. The basement walls are not rendered on the outside. The building has a gabled roof, stepped at the sides. Judging from the murals that survive in one of the konak cells, it was probably built before the end of the 17th or early 18th century.

Between the church and the konak, by the north-west corner of the church, is a simple rectangular fountain made of tufa, with a decorative carved stone on the front face. According to the partly preserved inscription it bears, giving the date 1700 in lettering, the fountain was erected in the 18th century.

The old village cemetery by the monastery contains several dozen old cruciform tombstones made of tufa, of distinctive form and decoration rarely to be found in this district. They are of various sizes, with no epitaphs, and may be roughly dated to the 18th and 19th centuries.

The monastery complex also included a school, built in 1882 at the urging of Abbot Partenije Davidović and thanks to the efforts of Isaija Kostić Praštao. It was erected to the south of the monastery courtyard, facing the road running alongside the brook. It was rectangular in plan, with a stone-built ground floor and a first floor probably of unbaked brick. The first floor had an overhanging portico. The ground floor housed shops and storerooms, and the first floor the classrooms. The building was later enlarged slightly. The school was damaged during World War II, and pulled down in 1946.


The Gomionica monastery houses a number of icons of authentic artistic hand, revealing at least four masters in Gomionica from the early to the mid 18th century.  Some of them could not have been living in the monastery; rather, the icons could have been brought to Gomionica from elsewhere, probably when the monks returned from the north in the late 17th and early 18th century, or could have originated in one of the very active icon-painting workshops under the influence of Ukrainian baroque, which were at work, for example, in the monasteries of Gomirje or Komogovina. 

The monastery collection was also supplemented at later dates,  with the 19th century part of the collection dominated, both in size and in their meticulous, decorative treatment, by the throne icons of the Virgin and Christ and Christ Pantocrator (Ševo, 2002, 82-83).


Artist: Serb icon painter

Date of origin: 16th century (36)

Technique: tempera on board

Size: 131x50 cm

Description: «The winged John the Precursor who features in the upper part of the Gomionica icon is the last prophet of the Old Testament and the first of the New Testament. A winged John the Precursor was painted in the last decade of the 13th century in the Arilje monastery, when this subject entered the decorative programme of altar partitions in Serbian churches for the first time, under the influence of Serbian theologians from Hilandar and the artists from Salonica who worked there under King Dragutin.

The Precursor with the developed iconography of the winged prophet and the verse calling for repentence was to feature more frequently on 16th century icons, becoming fully established as an iconographic type in the 17th century. However, the Precursor often features in the context of the Beheading, in other words with his head cut off. There are rarer examples, among the earliest, of John the Baptist without the head on the platter, with accompanying text, on icons from the Lihačev collection in Russia and on fragments of the Gomionica iconostasis, both from the 16th century.

St Sava, the first Serbian archbishop, features in the usual manner, as the frontal figure of an archhierarch, giving a blessing with one hand and holding the Gospels in the other. The oldest surviving representations on icons are in Hilandar, where there is a processional icon of the Virgin the Unbreakable Rock by a 14th century Serbian artist,  on the reverse of which is a bust of St Sava the archbishop. Another well-known early representation of this stain is an icon dating from the first half of the 15th century in the National Museum in Belgrade, where the archbishop features with his father Simeon.» (Rakić, 1998, 68-69)

«The figures on the icon are shown as tall and bulky, with drapery the folds of which follow the contours of their bodies, and are executed in several shades of the basic colour, giving an impression of depth. The characteristic linear drawing of their faces, on which the finishing accents are executed by means of close-set bundles of white lines leaving the impression of specific graphicism, links the oldest fragements of the Gomionica frescoes with the iconostasis, indicating the hand of a very competent and experienced icon painter. Small lips and ears in the form of a Cyrillic capital S, the thick, strong necks, wide foreheads and cheekbones and rather sunken lower eyelids, characterize the prophets on the murals and the figures from the icon. Furthermore, the lines on the foreheads are very recognizable and resemble an upside-down Islamic arch.  The hems, and the prophets' Gospels, as well as the figure of St Sava, have been richly adorned by the artist with rows of pearls, dark red elliptical gems and ochre hatching on the icons.There are even observable similarities in the calligraphy, as for example in the letter A, which is written with two feet both on the walls and in the name of St John the Baptist on the icon.

The linear style of the Gomionica protomaster and of the icon painter is subtle and harmoniously decorative, and the rich colour paletteis achieved by variations on a number of basic colours, without strong accents.» (Rakić, 1998, 68)


Artist: Serb icon painter

Date of origin: 16th century (38)

Technique: tempera on board

Size: 84X91 cm

Description: This composition is a scene from the cycle of Christ's Passion – the dead Christ on a white sheet, laid on a bier. Nicodemus is standing beside Christ's head, and Joseph of Arimathaea by his feet, holding onto him. Behind the bier is the Virgin with arms outstretched, and descending angels (the left-hand one holding a cross). The hair and beard of the grey-haired prophets are executed with virtuosity using long white lines forming wavy locks, as can be seen in the case of Nicodemus and Joseph on the lunette. Furthermore, these figures have long, deep, double lines along their cheeks, forming a marked hollow or curving in a spiral, emphasizing the depth of the cheeks.

All the other features of this outstanding Serbian icon painter are the same as those on the preceding icon. The beauty of his decorative graphicism is particularly marked in the areas of drapery hatched with gold and on the skin tones of the faces and hands of Nicodemus and Joseph. The body of the dead Christ also provided the anonymous artist with the opportunity to draw the anatomy with care, and the moving nature of the scene is also enhanced by the blood flowing from the spear wound in Christ's side.» (Rakić, 1998, 70)


Artist: Serb icon painter monk Nikodim (?)

Date of origin: 1753

Technique: tempera on board

Size: 46x112 cm (plaque with apostles), 50x100 (plaque with prophets)

Description: The four series of apostolic and prophetic waist-length figures, housed in the monastery sacristy, belonged to the Deisis of another iconostasis, certainly of more recent date than the one for which the doors were made. The series of apostolic icons was painted in 1753, as recorded on the inscription on the reverse of the icon showing the apostles Paul, Matthew and Luke: sapisa s ..in apostolov= leta gospodi_ a.°.n.g. trudom= i`diveniem=... Unfortunately, neither the name of the donor nor that of the artist, to whom the last part of the inscription refers, has survived. Another inscription on the reverse of the same icon relates that it was purchased by one Risto, but when it was purchased is not made clear. The same year, 1753, is inscribed on the reverse of the icon with the figures of the apostles Mark, John and Peter, with the name of a certain Luke whose surname is illegible (..tlića?) whom this note commemorates. Luke was certainly the person who comissioned the icon or one of those who made a donation for the painting of this icon.

The year 1753 is also inscribed on the reverse of the icon with the figures of the prophets Solomon, Joel and Daniel, but the date does not refer to the painting of the icon but to a contribution or memorial by Pantelija Radomirović to his brother Mihajlo, who died that year.

A stylistic analysis reveals that the icons with the figures of prophets are the work of a better artist, and that they were used as a model by the artist who painted the apostolic busts prior to 1753, which is evidence that the icons of the prophets predate 1753. The prophets Jacob, Zechariah and Gideon are painted on another board, and a small icon with the figure of the prophet Ezekiel has also survived, undoubtedly the work of the same, older and more gifted master; the place of this icon in the rows of figures on the iconostasis cannot be identified precisely. The artist who painted the apostles has fairly successfully imitated his predecessor, the artist who painted the prophets, but there is still an observable decline in artistic quality on his icons. He simplifies the ornamentation and form of the pillars and arcades between the figures, the clothes worn by the apostles have lost the purity of colour and the perfection of the prophets' vestments, and the modelling of the skin tones of the prophets, with pink and green tones on their refined white faces, has become the drier, more simplified modelling of the faces of the apostles, without the green shadows, with an admixture of darker shades in the pink areas and muddy grey interpolations. The younger, less skilled painter of the apostles made some corrections to the icons of the prophets as regards their scrolls, where additions to the texts in another hand can be seen. Apparently, in 1753 when the apostolic series was painted, the icons of the prophets were damaged, and the younger icon painter touched them up. There is a marked similarity between the Gomionica icons of the prophets and the royal doors of the timber-built church in the village of Javorani, which belong stylistically to the series of icons brought to the Javorani church from Kostajnica in the mid 18th century, as recorded on an inscription on one of them. The series of prophets from the Gomionica collection is undoubtedly the work of the same artist as the one who painted these doors, which also confirms that the Gomionica icons originated in the same Kostajnica workshop (Ševo, 2002, 78-82, Rakić, 1998, 157-158).


Artist: unidentified Cretan painter

Date of origin: 15th or 16th century

Technique: tempera on board

Size: 60x45 cm

Description: The Theotokos Odigitrija (Guider on the Way) is painted on a gold background, wearing a dark red robe and dark blue maphorion decorated with floral designs executed in gold. She is holding the infant Christ on her right arm; He is giving a blessing with his right hand and holding a gold sphere in his left. This type of Virgin was very popular in Greek icon-painting workshops in Crete, Venice and Primorje from the 15th century on. The strict Byzantine seriousness has to some extent been lost from the faces of the Virgin and Christ on which, western-style, their inner feelings can be discerned; the lines of the faces are softened, expressing a kind of smiling sadness. The full, realistic modelling of the face of the Christ Child, typical of the Cretan technique, and the gentle expressivity of the Gomionica icon, places it among the finest examples of Cretan icon painting.  Similar icons are to be found in Serbian monasteries, churches and private ownership, and indeed this example came to the monastery from a private collection. There are two icons very similar to this one in the collection of the Old  Church in Sarajevo, dating from the late 15th or early 16th century.  However, the closest resemblance is with an icon from the Hermitage in St Petersburg, dating from the 18th century, possibly painted in the same Cretan workshop or at least to the same model (Ševo, 2002, 75-76, Rakić, 1998, 223-224).


Artist: unidentified Cretan painter

Date of origin: late 17th century

Technique: tempera on board

Size: 40x25 cm

Description: The figure of the Virgin is of the Gothic type, showing her mourning as she foresees the sufferings of her son on the cross.  She is holding a small crucifix with the figure of the adult Christ. In the east this same idea is represented by the iconographic representation of the Theotokos of the Passion, to whom angels to either side are offering the symbols of Christ's passion on the cross as she hold the Child in her arms(39). The drawing of the face has particularly typical long, wide eyebrows that extend very low down, with marked lines on the forehead above. This motif of the Theotokos Trenoduza was very popular in 17th century Greek art, and numerous examples of it survive in a number of Serbian churches.» (Rakić, 1998, 260-261)


Artist: unidentified Russian painter

Date of origin: 18th century

Technique: tempera on board

Size: 38,5x31,5 cm

Description: The upper part of the icon shows the prophet Elijah in a chariot drawn by four winged horses, set in a fiery panel. In the opposite corner is a segment with a bust of the Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, greeting Elijah's chariot with a blessing. Seated in the chariot, the saint is passing his leather mantle to the prophet Elisha, who is kneeling below him with arms outstretched. The centre of the icon features a larger figure of the prophet Elijah seated meditatively in the desert, holding a staff, while a raven brings him food(40). Scenes from the prophet's life surround the central figure. Top left is a composition of Elijah invoking the fire of heaven on Mount Carmel. Below this scene is Elijah asleep in the desert, with an angel wakening him. To the right is the river Jordan, from which Elijah is taking his mantle in the presence of Elisha(41).

The icon is the good, meticulous work of Russian provincial workshops. It is characterized by its harmonious palette of warm tones skillfully composed against the dark background. The names of the scenes are inscribed on the icon in italics, and the names of the saints in their haloes. At the top of the icon is the title: The Fiery Ascension of Prophet Elijah (Rakić, 1998, 320-321).


Artist: unidentified local artist painter

Date of origin: 1870 (inscription on reverse of icon)

Technique: tempera on board

Size: 125x78 cm

Description: The icons are rather naive in line. They are the work of a later icon painter dating from 1870, as noted on the reverse of Christ's icon. His effort to portray the details of the decoration of the throne or the complex floral design of the fabric reveals his wish to compensate for his lack of artistic talent by precise decorativeness. There are other such late 19th century icons in Krajina churches. Very similar ones can be seen in the timber-built church in Palačkovcima, while the murals in the nave of the Gomionica church, dating from this time, belong to the same stylistic group. Another two 19th century icons in the Gomionica church are similar in artistic features and attainment: the Virgin and Christ and John the Precursor, and St Haralampije, smaller in size and less artistically ambitious. Their artistic value is less than their importance as documents of the period from which they date (Ševo, 2002, 83-84).


The old Gomionica royal doors are outstanding for their iconography and wood carving. Six rectangular painted panels set one above the next, three on each wing of the doors, portray the Annunciation at the centre, the waist-length figures of prophets David and Solomon above and the standing figures of apostles Peter and Paul below the Annunciation.  The gold background, traditional poses of the figures and draping of the fabric they are wearing with white lines and the indication of the folds using tones of the colour of the fabric, disregarding anatomy and dematerilizing form, are features of Byzantine art.  The light skin tones with narrow brown shadows at the edges and around the eyes, and the modelling with pink tones, and still more so the detail of the branch breaking into leaf held by Archangel Gabriel, with an almost naively indicated intention of introducting a realistic detail into the scene, suggest that the artist was familiar not only with Byzantine art but also with elements of baroque painting.  His stylistic ambiguity is at its most marked when he paints the Virgin from the Annunciation, incorporating into the scene, repeated in the same iconographic form on countless Greek, Russian or Serbian frescoes and icons, details such as the vase of flowers and green foliage, or the cloud from which the Holy Spirit is descending in the form of a dove on white rays onto the Virgin.

In Serbian art, the whirling clouds of the baroque replaced the Byzantine symbolic segment of sky, and the leafy branchlet, the traditional gestures or the sceptre held by the archangel only in the early 18th century, indirectly via the art of Ukrainian masters, who easily displaced the local icon painters faithful to the Byzantine tradition. The Gomionica royal doors, with their strong traditional artistic features and barely foreshadowed, naively understood baroque details, certainly date from the time when the baroque first began to make itself felt in Serbian icon painting among artists who adopted the new influences extremely selectively and cautiously. The precise origin of the artist who painted the royal doors cannot be ascertained, but he was certainly a local artist.

The carved area around the painted panels has marked features of baroque sculpture – fleshy leaves, thick stems, a regular row of palmettes on the overlap, and the massive, eight-petalled flowers set in squares between the painted panels, suggest that it originated in one of the wood-carvers' workshops in Serbian monasteries or towns in the north, where these forms were adopted in the early 18th century.  The slightly pointed arch of the upper edge of the doors does not match the shape of the surviving lunette, so that it is not possible to identify the remaining parts of the iconostasis partition to which these doors belonged (Ševo, 2002, 76-77).


«A valuable collection of manuscript books and editions of old Serbian printed books, along with a large number of Russian editions of the 17th and 18th centuries, is housed in the Gomionica monastery.  There is reliable evidence in the records that in the 16th and 17th century the monks of Gomionica were engaged in transcribing books, but also that manuscripts were acquired from the monastery from other Serbian scriptoria, so that the present-day collection of nine manuscripts is just a small part of the once extensive holding of manuscript books in Gomionica.

The oldest Gomionica manuscript is a volume of Sermons of the holy fathers for the fortieth and fiftieth weeks, of Serbian edition, with 312 surviving sheets.  The book is large in size, bound in decorated leather covers, and – on the basis of the watermarks on the paper and the features of the script – dates from the late 14th or early 15th century.  This valuable manuscript was in very poor condition until 1985, when it was restored in detail.

The manuscript of the Gomionica Gospels also dates from the late 14th or early 15th century, or to be precise between 1371, the date of the watermark on the paper, and 1476, until which date Vrhbosna was ruled by Bali-beg, the person mentioned in the note of the transcription of the book.  Two hundred folios have survived along with the decorated leather covers of the book, which the scribe endeavoured to adorn with vignettes, floral designs with palmettes, an arcade with dragons, and an interweave design of red lines coloured with green, ochre and red. This decoration repeats the forms of older Serbian book decoration, with considerable skill and talent, but to a more modest extent. Certain linguistic features reveal that the scribe originated from the western Serbian regions, while some Greek words and graphicized Serbian forms are perhaps the influence of the scribe's model.

A manuscript Lazarus Triodion dating from the late 15th or early 16th century is written in Serbian style in two columns. There are few decorations in the text, and the simple initials are no more than 1.5 to 2 rows of text in height.  There are 162 surviving sheets of this old, damp-damaged book, with damaged decorated leather covers.

A manuscript Mineon for December came to Gomionica from the Dubočice monastery near Pljevlje. The note on the last page records that the book was written in 1598 on the river Ćehotina, in the church of Nicholas, holy archhierarch and miracle-worker of Christ, by hieromonk Isaija. The decorated leather covers of this book and some marginal notes of importance for the history of Gomionica have survived.

The decorated leather covers and 165 pages of a manuscript Lazarus Triodion dating from the second half of the 16th century have survived. The two-column text has coloured interweave design headers.  The first few pages are badly damaged by damp.

A Prayerbook to the Holy Mother of God dates from the late 16th or early 17th century. The first (damaged) sheet of the 183 that survive has a coloured interweave design header, but the rest of the text is adorned only with modest initials. This book has also kept its decorated leather covers, with damage from bookworm and damp, as in the case of the previously described examples.

A Psalter with «posledovanje» or short anthology of prayers for priests and monks, of which sheets 264 to 519 have survived, without covers and damaged by damp, is decorated only with initials.  The first part of the book dates from the 17th century and the second from the 18th.  Another Psalter with «posledovanje», damaged and without covers, is in fact a transcript of a printed edition from the Venetian press of Božidar Vuković, dating from the 17th century, as also revealed in the decoration of the book, which copies the floral headers of the Venetian edition. Another Mineon for December, of Serbian edition, was transcribed in the 17th century; at the end of this book are eight sheets of the Service of the Transfer of the Host to St Nicholas, dating from the 18th century.

The most important of the printed books from the Gomionica collection is a fragment of a Festival Mineon from Božidar Vuković(42) dating from 1538.  It is printed in two colours, black and red, and the banners, vignettes, initials and figural illustrations in the book reveal a Renaissance spirit, while the Byzantine tradition is recognizable in the frontal poses of the figures of the saints and the inverse perspective of the architectural settings. This copy has no covers, and has 140 surviving sheets. Although damaged by damp, it is still decorated by illustrations of the Assumption of the Virgin, the Nativity of Christ, figures of St Nicholas, the five martyrs, SS Sava and Simeon, and floral headers.  One surviving note relates that the book was bought by one Jovan Milisavić in 1651.

Another Venetian edition dating from 1569/70 is an Oktoih of Jeronim Zagurović(43), which is housed in Gomionica. It has 147 surviving sheets and a damaged decorated leather cover. It is in fact a reprint of  Vuković's 1537 edition.

Gomionica also houses a Palm Sunday Triodion from the printing press of Stefan Marinović (Stefan of Skadar), issued in 1563. The Triodion is damaged by damp, bookwork and mechanical damage, as are its decorated covers. Stylistically and technically, this book is a continuation of Venetian editions, but is graphically poor and makes modest use of the decorative repertoire of Božidar Vuković's press.

A  Psalter of Bartolomeo Guinami dating from 1638 is yet another Venetian edition among the Gomionica printed books. This is in fact a reprint of Zagurović's Psalter, since Bartolomeo's father Marco took over the typography of Jeronim Zagurović. The only technical innovation lies in  the fact that for the first time in old Serbian printing this book has a printed title page. Guinami's Psalter is also the book with which old Serbian printed died out altogether. The Gomionica copy, damaged mechanically and by damp, has 211 sheets.

Although printed in Romania in Alba Julia, the Four Gospels of Deacon Koresije dating from 1579 also has Venetian features, modelled on Božidar Vuković's editions. The Gomionica copy of 202 sheets, without covers, was restored in 1977.

Gomionica also houses a large number of Russian editions. The oldest is a Tolkov Gospels printed in Moscow in the 17th century, which is lacking its foreword and first few pages. A note in the book refers to events in Moscow, via the Kovilja monastery to Gomionica.

Books printed in the Kiev-Pečerska laura (monastery) also date from the 17th century – an Apostolary dating from 1737 and a ritual book from the same period – and there are numerous Moscow editions in the collection, among the oldest of which are twelve monthly Mineons, printed in 1724 and acquired for Gomionica in 1735.  It is clear from the large number of notes in them that the donors were members of the congregation from the surrounding area. These books, of large format and with richly decorated leather covers, are badly damaged by damp and bookworm.» (Momirović, 1969, 128-131; Ševo, 2002, 85-96)


            The oldest item is a 17th century carved wooden cross, with a relief scene of the twelve Great Festivals. Judging from the almost completely worn-out Greek inscriptions, the cross was made in a Greek or Mt. Athos workshop. Precisely carved in soft wood, the scene with its numerous figures and details set below a shallow pointed Saracen arch resting on slender twisted columns, reveals a marked similarity with another Gomionica cross now in the collection of London University, which acquired it as part of the Gambier-Parry private collection. The carved sections of these two crosses are very similar to the reliefs on some Hilandar crosses, and it may be assumed, bearing in mind the monastery's good relations with Hilandar, that these two crosses also came from there.

A wooden choirstand, octagonal in shape and decorated with painted tulips and leaves, dates from the time when the monastery was repaired and reroofed. It is in very poor condition, with the pigment badly rubbed, but still indicating the freshness of the original decoration.  It is hard to read the inscription naming the donor or craftsman - Božo Vudragović.

Probably the oldest surviving item of artistic metalwork is a silver asterisk with the inscription: si« zvezdica $o monastira Gomª%nice hram= V=vedenªe Bogorodice. Skova - Horag (Hristofor?) m- vdo (?) za sboi spomen v= l+to z.c.l. (1722) mese-ca ª-(nªa) >& (19).  A silver asterisk dating from the last quarter of the 18th century is incised with an inscription referring to the donor, Simo Mijatović Kočić, a goldsmith from Sarajevo, and the yeare 1774, when the asterisk was donated to Gomionica.  A silver tričelo of fine workmanship, of which only part survives, dates from the same year; as the inscription engraved on its relaates, it was donated to Gomionica by hieromonk Stefan.  The other name on the inscription – Đuro Simović – could refer to the goldsmith who made the item.

Hieromonk Stefan, who donated the tričelo to Gomionica, is probably the same person as hieromonk Stefan Banović, who ordered two brass candlesticks for the monastery in 1775 in Venice.  The tall stems of the candlesticks are decorated with stylized engraving. The base of the candlesticks consist of four rings, orbs, with discreet moulding and bold stylized engraved decoration. The feet of the candlesticks are in the shape of three lion's paws between which are baroque cartouches framed in rich floral decoration. The cartouches contain engraved inscriptions on the donor, origin and date of these candlesticks.

Two gilded throne crosses of filigree decorated with multicoloured stones date from the first half of the 19th century. The decorated foot of the larger cross has an engraved inscription near the base relating that it was donated to the Gomionica monastery in 1836 by Silvestar Vukosavljević from the village of Slatine near Banja Luka. The inscription does not state where it was made, but its similarity to the filigree crosses in the collection of the Old Serbian Church in Sarajevo, the work of Sarajevo goldsmiths from the late 17th to the mid 19th century, suggest that the Gomionica filigree cross also came from a Sarajevo workshop.

The Gomionica collection of artistic metalwork also includes three icon lamps of cast copper alloy. The decoration on these imitates filigree work, and two of them have figural representations of the Crucifixion. The icon lamps can be roughly dated to the second half of the 19th century, and were probably made in Sarajevo, where the goldsmiths' tradition was retained to this late date, repeating the form and decoration of older pieces, but using new, simpler and cheaper techniques. The Gomionica collection of liturgical plate is also adorned by two chalices, one of which has gilded cast floral decoration on the foot, and three spoons, two silver, one of them gilded, and the other with filigree decoration. There is also a reliquary, a discus and a boat, of silver or with gilding, with discreet engraved decoration. All these items are mas produced and can be roughly dated to the late 19th or early 20th century». (Ševo, 2002, 97-103)


3. Legal status to date

The Gomionica monastery was registered in 1950 by the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities, Sareajevo, as a Category I cultural monument.

Pursuant to ruling no. 98/52 dated 11 February 1952, the  Gomionica monastery was placed under state protection as a 16th century religious building.

Pursuant to the Law on Cultural Properties (Officia Gazette of RS no. 11/95, articles 38-44), the Gomionica monastery enjoyed the status of a monument of outstanding importance.

The architectural ensemble of the Gomionica monastery is on the Provisional List of National Monuments under serial no. 251.

It is listed as a Category I monument in the Regional Plan for BiH to 2000.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

  • 26 August to 21 October 1747 –monastery church renovated and reroofed;
  • 1747 – repairs to the church and konak;
  • 1769/70 – repairs (renovation) of the church;
  • 1861, 1865 and 1868 – repairs (renovation) of the church;
  • 1898 – church plastered and a tall belltower erected beside it;
  • 1927 – old roof replaced by copper tiles (25 November 1927 the entire monastery was roofed by David Levy a sheet-metal worker from Banja Luka, whose assistant was one Mirko Kozomora)
  • 1952 – roof and exterior walls of the monastery repaired;
  • 1966 – repairs to cracks on the dome and apse of the church;
  • 1971-1976 – repairs to the building following the earthquake that struck the Banja Luka area in 1969 and exacerbated the existing damage to the church
  • conservation of the wall surrounding the monastery churchyard
  • low arched gate in the northern part of the wall pulled down.
  • 1977 – restoration of the book of the Four Gospels of Deacon Koresije dating from 1579;
  • 1982 – repair works on the church. This was when the old frescoes were discovered in the dome beneath the more recent layer of murals dating from the 19th century. (Works carried out by the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of BiH);
  • 1985 – restoration of the manuscript book of the Sermons of the holy fathers in the Fortieth and Fifthieth weeks from the late 14th or early 15th.
  • 1994 to 1997 – structural repairs to the church and continuation of research and restoration of the old murals. The Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of RS drew up the project for the reconstruction of the church. Structural repair works to the church and restoration works on the murals were carried out, as follows:
  • replacement of the wooden board ceiling with reeds and plaster in the outer parvis with a new roof of a light reinforced concrete shell;
  • replacement of the wooden steps leading from the western part of the outer parvis to the gallery by new steps, also wooden;
  • removal of coat of plaster from the exterior facades of the building;
  • replacement of the roof structure of the church by reducing the height of the roof abov e the outger parvis;
  • cladding the church roof with copper;
  • uncovering the original window openings in the walls of the old and new parvis;
  • reducing all windows to the size and form assumed to be authentic based on the details of the existing original windows;
  • adding rigidity to the walls with a reinforced concrete cornice.


5. Current condition of the property

During an on-site inspection it was found that the architectural ensemble of the monastery is in excellent condition.


6. Specific risks

According to the Report by the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of RS submitted to the Commission in 2002, potential risks (structural damage, atmospheric and rising damp) have been eliminated by the most recent conservation and restoration works. It will be necessary in the future to monitor the condition of the monument and ensure that it is kept routinely maintained.




Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument (Official Gazette of BiH nos. 33/02 and 15/03), the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A.  Time frame

B.  Historical value

C.  Artistic and aesthetic value

C. i. quality of workmanship

C.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

C. v. value of details

D. Clarity

D.iii. work of a major artist or builder

D. iv. evidence of a particular type, style or regional manner

D. v. evidence of a typical way of life at a specific period

E. Symbolic value

E.i. ontological value

E.ii. religious value

E.iii. traditional value

E.iv. relation to rituals or ceremonies

E.v. significance for the identity of a group of people

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

F.iii.  the building or group of buildings is part of a group or site

G. Authenticity

G.iv. traditions and techniques

G.v. location and setting

G.vi. spirit and feeling

I. Completeness

I.i. physical coherence

I.ii. homogeneity

I.iii. completeness

I.iv. undamaged condition


The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-          Copy of cadastral plan

-          Copy of land register entry

-          Drawings from the Nomination document submitted by the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of RS no. 725

-          Photodocumentation from Ljiljana Ševo, Pravoslavne crkve i manastiri u Bosni i Hercegovini do 1878, Glas Serb, City of Banja Luka, Banja Luka, 2002

-          Photodocumentation from Ljiljana Ševo, Manastir Gomionica, Glas Serb, Banja Luka, 2002

-          Photodocumentation of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of BiH, 2006

-          Documentation of the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federation Ministry of Culture and Sport



During the procedure to designate the monument as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


1889.    Novaković, J. Opis manastira Gomionice i njegovih starina (Description of Gomionica Monastery and its Antiquities), Dabrobosnian Sourcebook for 1889, no. 2,19; no. 3,41; nos. 19 and 20


1968.    Momirović, Petar, Manastir Gomionica (Gomionica Monastery), Bogoslovlje IX-XXIV, vols. 1,2. Belgrade, pp. 47-94


1969.    Momirović, Petar, Da li su manastir Gomionicu osnovali Mileševci (Was Gomionica Monastery founded by the Mileševa [monks]). Naše starine XII, Sarajevo 1969., 127-132


1971.    Kajmaković, Zdravko, Zidno slikarstvo u BiH (Wall painting in BiH), Sarajevo 1971, p. 311,


1984.    Kajmaković, Zdravko, Novootkrivene freske 16. veka u crkvi manastira Gomionice (Newly discovered 16th century frescoes in the church of Gomionica Monastery), Collected Papers for the Visual Arts of Matica Srpska 19, Novi Sad, 1984, pp. 117-135.


2002.    Ševo, Ljiljana, Manastir Gomionica (Gomionica Monastery) Glas Serb, Banja Luka, 2002.


2002.    Ševo, Ljiljana, Pravoslavne crkve i manastiri u Bosni i Hercegovini do 1878 (Orthodox churches and monasteries in BiH to 1878) Glas Serb, City of Banja Luka, Banja Luka, 2002.


Nomination document submitted by the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of RS


(1) The sites where material evidence of the prehistoric period was discovered are in Zelenci (Donje Šljivno), Radmani, Dulini, on Grčka Gradina, in Stričini, Zelengrad, Han Koli and other sites throughout Zmijanje (B. Graljuk, Novija arheološka otkrića I ispitivanja na području Banjaluke i okolice. Arheološka problematika Zapadne Bosne, Archaeological society of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Proceedings, Vol. 1, Sarajevo 1983, 27-29)

(2) To be precise, a section of the important Salona - Servicijum (Gradiška) road (E. Pašalić, Rimska cesta između Banjaluke i Bosanske Gradiške, Naše starine III, Sarajevo 1955, 239-243).

(3) In 1287 he issued a charter under the terms of which he ceded the county of Zemljanik, as his daughter’s dowry, to the son of Stefan Vodočki Babonežić. The charter set out the boundaries of the property so bestowed, within which the later Turkish administrative unit of Zmijanje, the spiritual focus of which was Gomionica, is recognizable (S. Ćirković, Istorija srednjovekovne bosanske države, SKZ, Belgrade 1964; B. Graljuk, Nova saznanja o župi Zemljanik, nedeljni glas, Banjaluka 9 and 10 May 1987, 8) .

(4)  In nearby Vilusi, the toponym Gomile, or Pasha's Mound, still survives.

(5) Ljiljana Ševo goes on to say: Nor should one overlook the linguistic similarity between the old name of the monastery,  Zalužije, and that of the hamlet Lužije, 2-3 kilometres to the north of  Gomionica, where there is a necropolis with more than a hundred stećak tombstones. All the preceding observations on the population density, political importance and economic features of the Gomionica region in the mediaeval period, together with the similarity of toponomastics and the fact that Turkish census records on the region dating from the early 16th century reveal that Zmijanje had a stable population, suggest that there was an older, mediaeval place of worship on the site of the present-day monastery. Bearing in mind the continuity of civilizations and their cults in the wider region, it is possible to refer to strata of places of worship.

(6) Timber-built churches are referred to in Orthodox religious architecture from as far back as the time of St. Sava. In the immediate vicinity and wider environs of Gomionica are ten or a dozen timber-built churches continuing the tradition of mediaeval timber building (Momirović P, Drvene crkve zapadne Bosne, Naše starine III, Sarajevo 1956).

(7) Petković S, Zidno slikarstvo na području Pećke patrijaršije 1557-1614, Novi Sad 1965. Poslije riječi «gračaničke» dodati novu fusnotu 15: «

(8) Kajmaković Z, Novootkrivene freske u  crkvi manastira Gomionice, Proceedings for the Fine Arts, Matica Srpska 19, Novi Sad 1984, 117-135

(9) Rmanj is to the west of Gomionica, at the confluence of the Unac with the Una, and the oldest known reference to this monastery dates from 1498. (Kajmaković Z, Zidno slikarstvo u Bosni i Hercegovini, Sarajevo 1971. Kajmaković Z, Novootkrivene freske u  crkvi manastira Gomionice, Proceedings for the Fine Arts, Matica Srpska 19, Novi Sad 1984, 117-135

(10) If the monastery had an abbot prior to 1536, it is hard to imagine that it did not also have a church prior to that date.

(11) Momirović P, Da li su manastir Gomionicu osnovali Mileševci, Naše starine XII, Sarajevo 1969, 127-133

(12) Until recently it was believed that the first Typicon of the Gomionica monastery, and the monastery itself, dated from some years prior to 1599. Turkish documents dating from 1540 and 1560, subsequently discovered, have shifted this date at least half a century back, but the indisputable significance of the note in the Typicon from Arad lies in the fact that it records the transcription of books in Gomionica in the late 16th century, which indicates the activities and spiritual power of this monastic community.

(13) This old Serbian word, the literal meaning of which is „following after [Christ]“, is translated in internet sources as psalter (Trans.)

(14) The fact that the Gomionica brotherhood ordered a cross to be made by one of the most famous goldsmiths of the day is evidence not only of the monastery's economic strength but also of the spiritual links between the monastery elders and monks and monasteries in the wider region and in distant crafts centres, as well as of the fact that those who commissioned it were well informed and of refined tastes.

(15) Hieromonk Jovan was involved in the printing of this book as editor, and is also the only known Serb to be involved in the printing industry in the mid 17th century (D. Medaković, Grafika srpskih štampanih knjiga XV-XVII veka, Belgrade 1958, Cyrillic).

(16) Although the guilty parties are named as one Ćuro Kričić and monk Zaharija, the reasons for this fine are not known, but it suggests the insecurity and lawlessness of post-war times.

(17) Mošin V. and Traljić S. M, Ćirilski spomenici u Bosni i Hercegovini, Naše starine VI, Sarajevo 1959, 89-98

(18) Momirović  P, Drvene crkve zapadne Bosne, Naše starine III, Sarajevo 1956

(19) This is an isolated item of information and says nothing about the reasons for or extent of the renovations, but the frequent contributions received in the early 1770s corroborate the belief that some kind of renovation was indeed carried out.

(20) Momirović P, Manastir Gomionica, Bogoslovlje IX-XXIV, vols. 1 and 2, 47-93

(21) A surviving tradition that also indicates the difficult circumstances of the monastery at that time recounts how Abbot Leontije Karapetrović pawned this cross three times, and how it was bought back in an unusual way during the superiorship of Serafion Čekin in 1856.

(22) The brotherhood received him with mistrust, looking askance at his Turkish clothing and escort, imposed by caution in those troubled, lawless times. Jukić says that there were five monks in the monastery, one of whom, in folk costume and holding a gun, was keeping guard around the monastery. The abbot avoided talking to him, and Jukić was shown only a few Russian and Venetian-printed books and a soaking wet psalter in the sacristy; he was told in the monastery that it had been built by a Turkish empress whose name they did not know.  (Momirović P, Manastir Gomionica, Bogoslovlje IX-XXIV, vols. 1 and 2, 47-93

(23) Petar Kočić was born in 1873 in Stričići, Bosanska Krajina. Writer from the Austrian period in Bosnia.  Studied in high school in Sarajevo and then in Belgrade. Graduated in Slavistic studies in Vienna; served in Serbia and Skoplje, but was without work for a long time after returning to Bosnia.  Convicted and imprisoned in Banja Luka and Tuzla. In Banja Luka, launched the newssheet "Otadžbina" which was frequently banned. Began by writing poetry, but soon turned to prose. Main works are the satire Jazavac pred sudom, Sudanija; short stories Jazavac pred sudom, Megdan Simeuna Djaka, Zulum Simeuna Djaka, Pravi megdan Simeuna Djaka, Mračajski proto, Jure Piligran and Jablan. Petar Kočicć died in 1916.

(24) Inscriptions recording these repairs are incised on two limestone plaques that were at one time in the boundary wall by the konak, but were much later transferred to the belltower after the latter was erected. In the latest renovations, in 1994, the plaques with the inscriptions were housed in the monastery sacristy. Parts of these plaques with fragments of the inscriptions are built into the shallow vault of the belltower. They record the name of Abbot Partenije, a number of monks and two architects. According to an incomplete note, earlier researchers into Gomionica assumed that the leading craftsmen working on these renovations were from the famous architects' family Damjanović of Veles (builders of the churches in Smederevo, Niš, Čajniče, Sarajevo, and Mostar).

(25) Signs of fire were found on all the walls and vaults during structural repairs to the monastery church in 1994, but it is impossible to say whether these were the result of the damage in 1858, 1867 or earlier.

(26) Šuput M, Srpska arhitektura u doba turske vlasti, Belgrade 1984; Šuput M, Spomenici srpskog crkvenog graditeljstva, XVI-XVII vek, Novi Sad - Priština - Belgrade 1991

(27) Ljiljana Ševo writes: “In its architectural features, it fits in with the trends in building of the time when it was built, when Orthodox monasteries continued, in spatial treatment, structure and decorative elements, the tradition of mediaeval Serbian architecture. Most of the design features used here originate in the monumental buildings of the Rascian stylistic group and look to the religious architecture of the 13th century for their models.  The ground plan of a single-nave church with semicircular apse, and dome on pilasters of which the upper structure forms a Byzantine crux imissa, and with a parvis of the same width as the nave, is a revival of old architectural thinking in an extension of the mediaeval outlook, primarily as regards the understanding of space, but also in the upper structures, openings and decoration. The style of masonry, the shape of the windows and doors, the treatment of the façade, and the details, echoes of the Rascian school, are merely suggested. . . On the other hand, the Gomionica church also has a certain architectural distinctiveness, expressed in the structure with its deep vaults abutting onto the longitudinal walls of the church, which categorizes it in the large group of architectural creations treated in this way. The origin of the type of single-nave building with longitudinal rebated arches is sought in the architecture of small 15th and 16th century churches in Herzegovina, where this structural treatment was brought  by coastal architects from Dubrovnik.”  “Churches of this type very rarely have a dome, so that there are few buildings uniting the type of single-nave church with that with rebated arches.  The closest similarity to the Gomionica church, in this small group of such buildings, is to be found in the church of St Nicholas in Podvrh near Bilje Polje and the Lomnixca monastery church (see Decision designating the Lomnica monastery), and the Krupe monastery near Obrovac and Krka near Kistanje, and the Rmnaj monastery.  Based on these similarities, it may be assumed that there was a single group of architects who built Krka, Krupa, Rmanj and Gomionica. The similarity in ground plan between Gomionica and Rmanj is striking, and provides grounds for considering that these two churches are very close in date, that their architects shared a common background, and that their founders made similar demands.”(Ševo, 51,52)

(28) It is said that at one time the church was clad with shingles, that at one time the roof was thatched with bracken, and that most recently lead was acquired for the roof, the remains of which were found on the dome during the latest repairs.  The lead was donated by members of the Ševo family from the village of Piskavica, as recorded in note on a sheet of paper attached to a beam below the dome, which mentions the names of two craftsmen, Stojko Petrović and Pero Radaković. The lead cladding was always laid direct over the vaults, so that if the entire roof was of this material the entire exuberance of the upper structure of the edifice would have been visible from the exterior. The lead cladding was apparently removed and the sale of the lead provided the funds to pay for a new copper roof.  There is also a record of this cladding on a piece of paper left under the roof of the dome. This says that on «25 November 1927 the entire monastery was roofed by David Levy, a sheet metal worker from Banja Luka, whose assistant was one Mirko Kozomora.»

(29) Ljiljana Ševo says:» The ambiguity of the architectural thinking of the late 19th century local builder who plastered the church may be observed on the modest decoration of the facade, which he executed superficially in the plaster.  The barely suggested pilaster strips on the sections of the exterior walls below the dome expressed his need to reflect the interior structure of the building – its architectural essence, the dome on pilasters – on the outer appearance of the church, as did the architects of the endowments of the rulers of the independent mediaeval Serbian state.»

(30) It is not possible to say with certainty when this intervention took place, but since the same type of material was used – plaster with chopped straw – it is highly likely that both windows were walled up at the same time, when the other windows of the building were enlarged, which led to a discord between the proportions of the church and its architectural features. During the 1994 repairs all the windows were reduced in size to match the size and shape of what, based on the details provided by the existing original windows, the originals were like.

(31) Judging from what is known of the history of the monastery church, it could have been damaged by fire several times from the late 17th to the late 19th century.

(32) «From heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death; to declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem.» Psalm 102, 19-21.

(33) Novaković, Opis manastira Gomionice i njegovih starina, Dabrobosanski source-book for 1889, no. 2, 19, no. 3, 41; idem, Dodatak opisu manastira Gomionice i njegovih starina, Dabrobosanski source-book for 1889, nos. 19 and 20, 323

(34) German (Jovanović) Vavedenjski manastir Gomionica, Dabrobosanski source-book,  Sarajevo 1891, vols. 6 and 7, 250, vol. 8, 336 and vols. 9 and 10, 371

(35) Doubt is cast on the date of the bell tower by one of the first people to describe the Gomionica monastery, thepriest Jovo Novaković, who noted in 1889 that the bell tower was attached to the church, and that it was about 20-22 arshins in height, which matches the height of the bell tower today. Next to describe the church was German Jovanović, in 1891, who does not refer to the bell tower. It is known that in or around 1868, at the time of Abbot Partenije Davidović, a wooden bell tower was erected beside the church.

(36) Liljana Ševo dates this icon to the 18th century, on the basis of its stylistic features (Ševo, 2002)

(37) Ljiljana Ševo calls the lunette a Pieta and dates it to the 18th century (Ševo, 2002, 83)

(38) Ljiljana Ševo dates this icon to the 18th century (Ševo, 2002)

(39) «In the collection of Jorgos Cakiroglu in Athens is an icon of almost the same size as this one, dating from the late 17th century, showing the Virgin and child three-quarter length in the identical manner, seated with a wooden Crucifix in her arms. Both icons are chamfered at the edges, and the Virgin's halo extends beyond the surrounding band decorated with stars. In the background, too, are diagrammatic stars (on the Athens icon, the stars are rather larger). There are baroque drapes in the upper corners. The rigid linear treatment in the modelling of the Virgin's maphorion, with no tonal transitions, and the sharp line of the faces, are in the spirit of the stylization of late Cretan art at its last gasp, which was continuing to turn back conservatively to the post-Byzantine tradition.  The border of the Virgin's maphorion is decorated with a Renaissance design of winding tendrils.  The anatomy is drawn on Christ's body, and a persion is draped around his broad hips.  The similarity between the Athens icon and that from Gomionica, both dating from the late 17th century, is such as to suggest they were the work of the same artist, a Greek, probaby working in Venice, who was reluctant to adopt western influences (apart from certain iconographic details)». (Rakić, 1998, 260-261)

(40) The bread brought to him by the raven in its bill is symbolically associated with holy communion.

(41) In Byzantine iconography, among the many stirring events in the life of this Old Testament figure, there are two that were most frequently represented: the Ascension of Elijah in the fiery chariot, and Elijah in the desert beside the Horath brook, being fed by a raven. In later Russian iconography these compositions are particularly marked on icons with the hagiography of this saint. The popularity of the scene of the Ascension is based above all on its symbolic interpretation, since church writers associated it in various ways with New Testament events.  Some saw it as reminiscent of the eucharist, and others of the Ascension of Christ (Rakić, 1998, 320-321)

(42) Božidar Vuković founded a printing press in Venice in 1519.

(43) Jeronim Zagurović founded a printing press in Venice in 1569/70, after arriving there from Kotor and probably taking over Božidar Vuković's printing blocks. (D. Medaković, Grafika srpskih štampanih knjiga XV-XVII veka, Belgrade 1958.)




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