Stephen of Dеčаni

Stephen Urоš III of Dеčаni (1322–1331) was the Serbian king of the Nеmаnjić Dynasty, son of King Мilutin and father to Dušаn The Mighty. He continued to augment Serbia at the Byzantine expense, making it most powerful in the Balkans. The Serbian Church canonized him as the Holy King, and his endowment is the High Dеčаni Monastery in Меtоhia, near Pеć.

The greatest part of the Serbian history starts with the King Stephen’s victories, but he is remembered as the most tragic figure of the Nеmаnjićа Dynasty, though. He was persecuted by his own father and brother, his beloved wife died, and in the moment of his greatest accomplishments, his own son turned against him. Because of the dangerously growing Serbian power, the Byzantine king sought an ally to fight back Stephen of Dеčаni, finding it in the Bulgarian ruler at the time. But the Serbian army intercepted the Bulgarians, defeating them heavily at the Battle of Velbazhd in 1330, with Stephen’s son Dušаn playing one of the key roles. The emperor had to retreat back to Byzantium and relinquish power over the Balkans to Serbia.

The King Stephen’s policy, although quite smart, was not accepted well among the noblemen but either with his son Dušаn. King Stephen would not allow Serbia to extend uncontrollably, conquering  lands it could not control. So, he refused to conquer Bulgaria in an opportune moment, which was probably the cause of his fall.

There are two completely different versions about the King Stephen’s death, but one put the blame of patricide on his son.


The miraculous relics of the Holy King Stephen of Dеčаni are kept at his endowment, the High Dеčаni Monastery. The holy relics of the saint are really miraculous: sight is restored to the blind, the lame, the deaf, the ill and the weak are healed. The Church celebrates Holy King Stephen of Dеčаni on 11/24 November.


Of unusually large dimensions, but graciously simple and of harmonious proportions, the High Dеčаni Church is the greatest Serbian mediaeval building.  The church was built of marble blocks in two colours. Its architectural complexity features a harmonious combination of the Western (Romanesque and Gothic) and the Eastern (Byzantine) styles with the already existing elements of the Serbian art tradition. The monastery was painted by the best masters of the Dušаn’s empire.