Church on Sunday: Belgrade’s Sveti Marko
St. Mark’s Church, or Crkva Sveti Marko, is one of the largest churches in all of Serbia. It was built between 1931-1940, until World War II interrupted construction. The church was consecrated in 1948. A hundred years before construction of the present St. Mark’s Church, another church, also called St. Mark’s, stood in the same location. I suppose once you name a place after a saint, you really don’t want to change the playbook.
The site holds additional importance for Serbians: it’s believed that Kardjordje positioned his cannons here during the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire. The hill of Tasmajdan park next to the church offered a strategic position. Based on that alone, one might presume that prayers have been whispered on this site since the early 1800s.
Now the church is undergoing an exterior renovation, but the interior is a feast for the eyes.
It even includes a perfect replica of the church, which was built in the 1950s without tools. Sveti Marko itself is a much-larger replica of Gračanica Monastery near Priština, Kosovo.
How little Serbian girls can keep their hands off of this is a complete mystery.
The church holds the remains of Tsar Dušan, one of two Serbian Emperors. Tsar Dušan expanded the Serbian empire to its largest size in history and formed a medieval Serbian constitution based on Saint Sava’s code and incorporating Byzantine judicial law. He is also noted for his large appearance; it’s said he was almost seven feet tall. If true, I’m not sure how he fit into this sarcophagus on the south wall of the church.
Maybe his large size accounts for the incredibly oversized church doors.
Either way, Sveti Marko is a knockout. (rimshot!)