Elizabeta Dimitrova

The first complete monograph presentation of the cultural and historical significance, as well as the artistic qualities of the church of the Holy Virgin in Matejce, one of the most representative medieval monuments in the Macedonian territory.

Considered to be "one of the most noble Byzantine monuments in the Balkans' region" in the travelogues from the distant centuries and investigated in the papers of the most respected researchers of Byzantine culture more than a century, the church of the Holy Virgin in Matejce is a representative of the leading artistic attainments of our ancestors from the distant past and it is a master-piece of Late Byzantine monumental painting.

Originating from the tradition of Constantinopolitan architectonic models and being the largest painted ensemble from the XIVth century in the Macedonian territory and the second largest in the Balkans' region, the church of the Holy Virgin in Matejce, by the grandiose dimensions of the building and the extensive painted repertoire counts among the most distinguished monuments of the general Byzantine artistic production. Fourteen painted cycles and hundreds saintly figures decorate the walls of the temple, which, in the last fifteen months had lost precious pieces of the painted decoration, swallowed in the dark abyss of oblivion.

The genuine iconographical patterns never seen in the history of Byzantine painting, testifying to the profound theological erudition of the creators of encyclopedically rich painted programme, as well as the appearance of the new style features of the court artistic expression through the aristocratic manner of the execution, speak in favor of the skillfulness and mastery of the best painters from the middle of the XIVth century. Their refined artistic expression ennobled the monumental interior of the church with one of the most poetic vision of our medieval artistic creation.

For the first time in the history of Byzantine studies, on 524 pages, illustrated by drawings, 90 black and white as well as 57 color photographs, the monograph The Monastery of Matejce solves the mystical dimensions of the church of the Holy Virgin, offering:
  • detailed overview on the architectonic features of the building
  • complete iconographical analysis of the painted repertoire
  • reconstruction of the damaged parts of the painting
  • style analysis of the artistic features of the painted arrangement and detection of the probable authors of the decoration
  • more precise dating of the painted programme of the church
  • rich comparative analysis of the artistic patterns of the executed ensemble
  • clarification of the specific function of the temple
  • determination of the significance and extraordinary creative values of the monument in the context of the development of Byzantine architectonic and artistic heritage
After 650 years of its existence, the temple of the Holy Virgin in Matejce, today inaccessible for the investigators and believers due to its occupation by the military extremists, reveals itself to all researchers and art lovers on the pages of this book. In the story of this masterpiece of Macedonian cultural treasury, within the monograph The Monastery of Matejce, what vanishes irreplaceably every day in the tragic swirl of merciless destruction, is preserved forever.

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