The Ruined Monastery & Hermitage of St Peter Koriški

The ruined hermitage and monastery of St Peter Koriški in Kosovo. (Image: Besfort Guri. The ruined hermitage and monastery of St Peter Koriški)

Nestled amid the wilderness of Kosovo’s Prizren municipality, a haunting medieval religious ruin endures within the mouth of an ancient cave. The cave once housed a monastery and hermitage dedicated to St Peter Koriški, and a series of beautifully 15th century frescoes (and other artefacts) can still be seen today.

Peter of Koriša, a 13th century saint, was the first known Serbian hesychast (one who spends his life in contemplative prayer), according to Life of the Orthodox Church. The story goes that St. Peter and his sister, Helena, left home after the death of their parents. Building their own monastic cells by a nearby church wasn’t remote enough, and Peter eventually left his sister behind to venture alone into the mountains of Prizren.

Beautiful medieval frescoes remain evident in the cave mouth. (Image: Besfort Guri)

The Archangel Michael is said to have appeared to him and, after fighting demons in his mountain retreat, Peter was eventually found by a group of monks who asked him to teach them his ways. He gave the monks permission to live in the nearby cliffs, and died soon after.

(Image: Besfort Guri)

During the middle of the 14th century, King Dushan of Serbia built a church to house his relics, but conflict with the Turks put the site in peril. The monastery and ancient hermitage of St Peter Koriški was abandoned in 1453. After the saint’s remains were moved to Crna Reka in 1572, the ancient religious site was left to the elements.

The empty stone tomb of Saint Peter Koriški. (Image: Besfort Guri)

For centuries, the ruined monastery and hermitage endured. Finally, in 1950, the location was declared a cultural monument. By 1990, it had become a Protected Monument of Culture and the protection of the Republic of Serbia. The tomb of St Peter Koriški – hewn from the rock by Peter’s monks at his request – still stands, open and empty, beneath ancient frescoes that tell their story. The abandoned hermitage remains a haunting, lonely reminder of one man’s devotion, and the aspirations of others.

Read Next: 10 Abandoned Churches Destroyed by War


About the author: Debra Kelly




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