Triconch Churches Sponsored by Serbian and Wallachian Nobility

Bogdanović, Jelena
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Architectural activities of remarkable quality continued to thrive north of Byzantium under the sponsorship of Serbian and Wallachian nobility long after the fall of Byzantium and occasionally even in territories under Ottoman rule.1 As suggested by Slobodan Ćurčić, triconch domed churches, which have been enduring examples of Middle Byzantine architecture and especially of monastic architecture on Mount Athos, shaped notions of an Orthodox Christian identity shared by Serbs and Wallachians, as opposed to the Islamic architecture of the Ottoman Turks.2 Interest in triconch domed churches in the Balkans started with the studies of the French archeologist and historian Gabriel Millet. Widely recognized as a pioneer of Byzantine studies, Millet proposed the idiosyncratic concept of stylistic “schools” that were located regionally in the nation-states of the Balkans originally in reference to painting and then, by extension, to religious architecture.3 At the time of World War One, when nation-states in the Balkans were trying to promote and maintain their sovereignty, Millet opened up a discussion of national styles in art and architecture with a regional emphasis.4 His pioneering work spurred development of national studies of historical architecture and arts in the Balkan states and remains critical as it documented numerous building sites in the wider region. A student of Millet’s, the architect and architectural historian Aleksandar Deroko, has promoted the more neutral terminology of “architectural groups,” rather than “national schools.”5 Because so few historical documents and texts survive to establish the historical context of medieval architecture in the Balkans, these buildings themselves retain important documentary and historical value.


This accepted book chapter is published as Bogdanovic, J. Triconch Churches Sponsored by Serbian and Wallachian Nobility. In Byzantium in Eastern European Visual Culture in the Late Middle Ages. Leiden ; Boston : Brill 2020, Chapter 7. DOI: 10.1163/9789004421370. Posted with permission.