Stuplje Monastery, a phoenix of the Serbian Orthodox Church

Ljiljana Krejic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

At the tripoint between three small towns in northern Bosnia & Herzegovina – Prnjavor, Čelinac and Teslić, one can find Stuplje Monastery, a true phoenix among the sacred places of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Only 50 km on the east from Banja Luka, the second biggest city in Bosnia & Herzegovina, you can reach Stuplje Monastery in a one-hour drive. This medieval Serbian Orthodox monastery was probably established in the 13th century, during the rise of Kingdom of Serbia, like Liplje Monastery. The sanctuary erects in the middle of unspoiled nature and serene sceneries, but its destiny was not at all peaceful. Let’s dive into its history to discover more details.

A brief history of Stuplje Monastery

Stuplje Monastery is located in the village Gornji Vijačani, on a small river Manastirica and the locality called Crkvište. The main church of the monastery is dedicated to Archangel Michael. According to some historical sources, the monastic complex was built and established by Serbian King Dragutin (1276-1282) at the end of the 13th century, around the same time as Liplje Monastery. These two monasteries had quite a similar history, and they are situated only 20 km from each other. For the first time, the monastery was mentioned in the chronicles that date back to the 15th century. Again, similar to its twin brother Liplje Monastery, the monks of this sanctuary played an important role in transcribing religious books in the 17th century. 

How were the foundations of a burnt monastery discovered?

Picture © credits to Facebook/Manastir Stuplje

In 1696, the monastic complex was completely razed by the Ottomans, and for 300 years nobody knew where this sacred place was located. So, during the biggest part of the 20th century, the archaeologists knew only that the sanctuary was supposed to be in the vicinity of Liplje Monastery, but the exact location remained a mystery. Only in 1994, when they started exploring the village Gornji Vijačani, namely a locality Crkvište (meaning ‘a church’), a stream Manastirica (meaning ‘a monastery’) and a hill Kaluđersko brdo (meaning ‘a hill of monks’), they uncovered the foundations of the old Stuplje Monastery. They found out the previous church was a basilica (14 meters long and 7.5 meters wide), and they discovered the debris of the burnt monastery. Afterwards, the archbishop of Banja Luka decided to rebuild the monastery at the place of archaeological findings, and the new Stuplje Monastery was consecrated in 2008.  

What to see around?

Picture © credits to Wikipedia/Suvajac

If you are a history lover, you can’t miss exploring Stuplje Monastery, a true phoenix of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Bosnia & Herzegovina. And when you are already in the northern region of the country, there is another rarity worth visiting – a wooden church in Palačkovci, that dates back to 1843. This unique church, devoted to St. Peter and St. Paul, was constructed out of oak wood only and was protected as a monument of cultural heritage. And if you are a spa lover as well, after these historical and religious explorations, only 15 km from Stuplje Monastery, you can find Banja Kulaši, a famous spa & wellness complex, known for its healing thermal waters since the Roman times.

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