Church on Sunday: St. George, Smederevo
Today’s weather was warm and sunny, so we decided to explore nearby Smederevo, home of the St. George Orthodox Church. St. George is the third largest church in Serbia and sits at the base of the pedestrian avenue in town. Its tall bell tower was designed to compete with the call to prayer of surrounding mosques during the Ottoman period.
Once we were inside, we met Saša, a church administrator and guide who provided great information about the church. It was built in 1850-1854 on swampy terrain. This terrain, according to Saša, required giant pillars to anchor the building, and explains why the floor rolls in a wave-like pattern. The distinctive features of the church include an iconostasis in marble (rather than wood), a marble pulpit in the church, and unusual frescoes.
The frescoes were painted between 1934 and 1937 by Russian artist Andrei Bitsenko. He painted, in RHOB terminology, “action scenes” from the bible that included large groups of people-not your typical frescoes. The characters in the frescoes are modeled after Smederevo residents, and we could definitely see a resemblance between the angular faces on the walls and features of the people around us. Too bad you can’t see them-I tried to take a photo on the sly, but it was largely unsuccessful.
Taking photos was discouraged in the church, so I’m afraid I can’t highlight some of the more interesting detail on the marble iconostasis and frescoes. We snapped some quick photos and offered a donation as penance before heading out to see the rest of Smederevo.