The principal endowment of the greatest mediaeval donor – Holy King Milutin. Gračanica was built in 1321 as an endowment of not only King Milutin, but of his wife Simonida and his son Stefan, as well. It was dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Virgin. It is of a characteristic appearance, with five domes and an exonarthex, added by Prince Lazar.
The Gračanica frescoes are the work of the best masters of that time – Mihailo and Evtihije. The outstanding fresco compositions are the Last Judgement cycle, the Nemanjića Family Tree, and the figures of Holy King Milutin and Queen Simonida.
The monastery is in the village of Gračanica, 5 km from Priština. After the 1999 Kosovo war, the Ras-Prizren Bishopric Seat was moved from Prizren to Gračanica. It became not only the spiritual, but also the national and the political centre of the Serbian people of the region. It is one of the four Kosovo and Metohija mediaeval monasteries listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There used to be hundreds of monks living in Gračanica, who developed intensive spiritual and artistic activities. In the second quarter of the 16th century, there was a printing shop, the first in Serbia, working in the monastery. Later on, due to significant Ottoman opresson, the monastery was abandoned, and only the church served its parish. After the WWII, nuns restored the monastery and it has been a women’s monastery ever since. Today there are about two dozen nuns there.
Holy King Milutin, Queen Simonida