Read, Write, Run, Roam

Final Churches, Turbes and Monasteries on Sunday

A peek of Crkva Ruzica

Churches, turbes, and monasteries–I’m overpacking today’s post like a family of eight in a Budva-destined Lada. Yet I must. After 52 Sundays of writing about churches, I am officially retiring CoS posts. Next Sunday I will be flying back to the U.S. and it seems fitting to end my Sunday posts where they began: in Belgrade.

I wanted to write about Kalemedgan’s Sveta Petka and Ružica Churches, but could not get  permission to photograph their interiors. These churches are jewels of Belgrade–precious, tiny, and historic–but you’ll have to take my word for it. Alternatively, you can check out this video highlighting Petka church, but beware of bad angles and the need for a tripod.

The doors of Crkve Ružica.

Sveti Petka







Instead, I’ll focus on the former Dervish Monastery in Belgrade. It’s part of the scant evidence of 500 years of Ottoman rule in Belgrade. After Serbian independence, people either destroyed the mosques and buildings of their Ottoman oppressors or left the structures to rot. However, two turbes (Islamic mausoleums) testify to the time of fezzes, carpets, and apple tea.

Just past Studenski Park lies the turbe of Sheik Mustafa. It was built in 1784 in the center of a Dervish Monastery. The monastery is long gone, but the turbe still stands. People still tie twine to the eye-shaped window; perhaps it’s a sign that what is gone is not forgotten.

The second turbe stands in the middle of Kalemegdan on the west side of the Military museum. It’s dedicated to Damad Ali Pasha, the “Great Vizier of Sultan Ahmed III.” (I just love titles from this era.) This turbe appears to have less dedicated visitors, but it’s an impressive sight in an already impressive fortress. I’ve read that turbes often stand near mosques or monasteries, but I don’t have evidence of a monastery here. However, Turks lived in the fortress during their reign, and it would make sense that there was a mosque there at one time.

Belgrade’s long and colorful history is reflected everywhere: buildings, streets, and even first names testify to a history of Slavic/Roman/Austrian/Ottoman/Serbian rule. Balkan churches are no different; they offer as much history as any museum. Many thanks to the priests, imams, rabbis, readers and others who have recommended and explained places of worship over the past year. I wouldn’t have learned nearly as much about this region without you.


One response

  1. Morgan

    I’ve enjoyed every CoS post here, sad to see them end. Sveti Petka is amazing, but I had no idea there was a turbe right in Kalemegdan. Must remember next time I’m there!

    October 27, 2011 at 12:50 am

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