Vitus of Kotor

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Vitus of Kotor
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Vitus of Kotor also known in Serbian as Vito Trifunov or Fra Vito from Kotor (Kotor, Republic of Venice, now Montenegro, c. 1275 - Kotor, Republic of Venice, after 1335) was a Serbian master builder and architect of the famed Visoki Dečani monastery in Kosovo.[1]


He was born in Kotor to a Catholic Serb family at the time when the region was occupied by the Republic of Venice. He studied construction in Kotor where he joined the Franciscan monastery and became a monk and a master-builder with his own workshop.[2]His organizational skills and ability to gather the best craftsmen from surrounding regions, including Dubrovnik, earned him a reputation.[3]He was personally commissioned by Serbian kings Stefan Milutin and Stefan Dečanski to build Visoki Dečani. His contemporary was Radovan (master)|Radovan, also a master builder.

Visoki Dečani

Established in the fourteenth century, initial construction on Visoki Dečani Monastery occurred between 1327 and 1335 during the reign of Stefan Dečanski. The monastery is situated in the valley of the Bistrica river surrounded by the mountains and forests of the Prokletije mountain range in the disputed territory of Kosovo. Today's analysis of the sculpture and architecture of Dečani offers many clues to the authorship of sculptures of saints[2]and a mausoleum in Banjska monastery|Banjska and series of churches in Kotor (including a basilica) of the 14th century that is attributable to Fra Vito from Kotor who built a similar mausoleum in Dećani.[4]

Vito Trifunov (also referred to popularly as Vito from Kotor or Vito of Kotor) is credited for the construction of the monastery church at Dečani which began in early 1327.[5]The church was dedicated to Christ Pantocrator. King Stefan Dečanski commissioned the construction to a group of master-builders headed by master Vitus of Kotor and under the supervision of Archbishop, later Saint, Danilo II. In 1330, Stefan Dečanski granted a charter for the monastery with an endowment to support the monastery in perpetuity. Stefan's remains are preserved in the Dečani church in a coffin at the head of the altar.

Our Lady of Ljeviš

Vitus of Kotor is also credited with Богородица Љевишка or Bogorodica Ljeviška (in English "Our Lady of Ljeviš),[6]an early 14th-century Serbian Orthodox church in Prizren, Kosovo. Stefan Milutin, King of Serbia commissioned its rebuilding and expansion in 1306 on the site of a Byzantine basilica of the 11th century.[7]The Byzantine church had three naves to which Milutin added two more. The architecture of the rebuilt church utilized Late Byzantine architecture through the use of five domes, monumental inscriptions in its exterior, narthex interior.[8]and the Byzantine belfry. Milutin chose Vitus of Kotor as the master-builder of the complex and told him to utilize Byzantine elements. Another aspect of the frescoes of Bogorodica is their depiction of Orthodox Synod|councils as a symbol that referred to the challenges the Orthodox Church faced against the Roman Catholic Church, a situation common in the borderlands between Catholicism and Orthodoxy in the Balkans.[9]


Bogorodica Ljeviška was the official name in Milutin's period although the church was popularly known as the Church of Saint Petka.[10]After the Turkish conquest, it was turned into a mosque and the name was changed to Fatih Cami or Mehmed the Conqueror|Mehmed Fatih's mosque.[11]It is now under the protection of UNESCO.[12]


  1. Gaborit, Jean-René (October 3, 1971). "Svetazar Radojcic. Geschichte der serbischen Kunst. Von den Anfängen bis zum Ende des Mittelalters (Grundriss der slawischen Philologie und Kulturgeschichte)". Bulletin Monumental. 129 (4): 299–299 – via
  2. 2.0 2.1 Čubrović, Zorica (October 3, 2016). "Которски светац и скулптура Дечана". Историјски записи (3–4): 157–170 – via
  5. Bojović, Boško I. (2014). L'Église Orthodoxe Serbe: Histoire - spiritualité - modernité. ISBN 9788671790857.
  6. "Bogorodica Ljeviška nije obnovljena ni posle 15 godina od pogroma". Politika Online.
  7. Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N. Y. ) Department of Medieval Art and the; N.Y.), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York (July 11, 2004). Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557). Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9781588391131 – via Google Books.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. "Serbian Orthodox Church: Its Past and Present". Serbian Patriarchy. July 11, 1972 – via Google Books.
  9. Boeck, Elena N. (July 9, 2015). Imagining the Byzantine Past: The Perception of History in the Illustrated Manuscripts of Skylitzes and Manasses. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107085817 – via Google Books.
  10. Nenadović, Slobodan (July 11, 1963). "Bogorodica Ljevis̆ka: njen postanak i njeno mesto u arhitekturi Milutinovog vremena". Nar. knj. – via Google Books.
  11. "Our Lady of Ljeviš".
  12. Planet, Lonely; Baker, Mark; Sheward, Tamara; Isalska, Anita; McNaughtan, Hugh; Parkes, Lorna; Bloom, Greg; Duca, Marc Di; Dragicevich, Peter; Masters, Tom; Ragozin, Leonid; Richards, Tim; Richmond, Simon (October 1, 2017). Lonely Planet Eastern Europe. Lonely Planet. ISBN 9781787011908 – via Google Books.

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