Other Scenes

Part 1: Byzantine, Orthodox and Islamic Scenes
Part 2: Political Statuary

David Zaret
Vice President for International Affairs
Professor of Sociology and History
Bryan Hall 104, Bloomington, IN


[With reference to the recent history of SEEU:
Tetovo, located to the west of the capital, Skopje, lies south of Kosovo and to the east of Albania.]

The architectural and art heritage of Macedonia displays its location in Southeast Europe at the center of the Balkan Peninsula. Beyond the
Republic of Macedonia, the larger region of Macedonian culture today extends to parts of Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece.

Under the rule of Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great, Macedonia extended Hellenic culture across the Near East, from Egypt to the Indus River. Subsequently it fell to the rising power in the west and was incorporated as a province in the Roman Empire. After the Empire's division into western and eastern dynasties, it was a Byzantine province that had a complex medieval history as the region was variously dominated by Byzantine, Bulgarian and Serbian rulers. Islamic rule followed when Macedonia was part of the Ottoman Empire for nearly half a millennium.

The first series of images, below, illustrate Byzantine themes in the visual culture of Orthodox religion in this region.

Map of Macedonia

Not far from Skopje in a remote, small town (Gorno Nerezi, pop. 350) on the side of a mountain is a beautiful Byzantine Church, the Church of Saint Panteleimon. The image (below, right) shows how it is situated, perched on an outcropping of rock above a valley. The church is named after a fourth-century martyr who is also known as the guardian of health.

The church was constructed in 1164, by a grandson of the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos. Walls of the church feature frescoes that are important examples of the heightened emotional depth of figural imagery in the 'Comnenian' era (1081-1185). Illustrating this point, below, is a fresco from the church with a lamentation scene

St. Pantelejmon Church, Macedonia
Church of Saint Panteleimon, Gorno Nerezi, near Skopje, Macedonia.
For a larger version, and another perspective, click on this image.

© David Zaret 2013

Fresco with lamentation scene, St. Panteleimon Church.
The animated expressions figure prominently in Byzantine frescoes and icons from this era.
St. Pantelejmon Church
Church of Saint Panteleimon with adjacent restaurant, situated on mountainside.
Image with bears comes from the restaurant.

Admittedly, these two images do not illustrate Byzantine themes in the
visual culture from medieval Macedonia. But they provoke nice memories
of lunch in the restaurant that is adjacent to the Church of Saint Panteleimon.
(The restaurant is in the building next to the Church in the picture, above/left.)

To the right--a variety of meats, on the bone and in sausages, cure
above the mantle of the large fireplace. Many of the dishes served
in the restaurant are cooked on the large metal grate in the fireplace.

Below--two bears guarding the small bar, whose expressions convey
sadness rather than anything fierce.

Bears in Macedonia Restaurant

Rustic Restaurant in Macedonia

Returning to the topic of Byzantine art: Macedonia has remarkable collections of Orthodox iconography. There is a large, beautiful collection in the Icon Gallery of the Macedonian National Museum in Skopje. On display in its Icon Gallery are iconic paintings that extend back to the 11th century.

A famous icon from that collection is the Bogorodica Pelagonitisa, c. 1421-2. Pelagonitisa refers to the region where the monastery with the icon was located.

Bogorodica Pelagonitissa
© David Zaret 2013
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