In the hilly stretch south from the town of Kraljevo – itself some 170km south of Belgrade – to Novi Pazar lie some of Serbia’s most impressive monasteries. Just 4km southeast of Kraljevo, Žiča was a thirteenth-century creation of St Sava – Serbia’s patron saint and the first archbishop of the independent Serbian Church – with a vivid red exterior that evokes the red Serbs use to paint eggs at Easter.

The first and greatest of the Serbian monasteries, however, is Studenica, set against the wild, roaming slopes some 12km (and accessible by bus) from the village of Ušče. It was established in 1190 by Stefan Nemanja, founder of the Nemanjić dynasty, whose marble tomb lies in the Church of the Virgin Mary. Studenica’s superb frescoes were the work of an innovative but still anonymous Greek painter who created trompe-l’oeil frescoes to resemble mosaics.

Around 16km from Novi Pazar is the Sopoćani monastery, a thirteenth-century construction that once stretched across a whole complex but of which only the Holy Trinity Church remains. The Assumption of Virgin Mary is the most famous of its unusually large Byzantine frescoes; the bright colours and expressive faces are said to prefigure the Italian Renaissance.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Serbia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

10 great winter destinations in Eastern Europe

10 great winter destinations in Eastern Europe

Forget the plummeting temperatures and long dark nights, winter is a hugely rewarding season in which to visit Eastern Europe. Frozen rivers, frosty branches an…

28 Nov 2016 • Jonathan Bousfield insert_drive_file Article
8 reasons why Belgrade is Europe’s hidden highlight

8 reasons why Belgrade is Europe’s hidden highlight

Serbia’s capital is always on the move – a constantly changing scene of new bars and restaurants alongside old favourites. After a scorching hot summer, tem…

30 Sep 2015 • Mary Novakovich insert_drive_file Article
The best hostels in Europe

The best hostels in Europe

Taken from the Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget, here's our pick of the best hostels in Europe. Europe presents an irresistible challenge to the budget trav…

04 Mar 2015 • Site Editor insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month