National Museum Čačak

National Museum Čačak


Churches and monasteries of the Čačak region

Church of Our Lady of Gradac: the Monastery Church dedicated to the Mother of Lord was built in Gradac in XII century by Stefan Stracimir, Stefan Nemanja‘s brother. It was between 1207 and 1215 that the Church was mentioned in the written sources for the first time. The Church was awarded the status of royal monastery due to the kinship between the Church ktetor (Church founder) and the founder of the royal dynasty of Serbia. However, during the reorganization of the Serbian Church between 1319 and 1321, it became the centre of the episcopacy of Gradac. In the XIV century the Church of Our Lady of Gradac underwent extensive restoration. An urban settlement grew up around the Church. The first written source to mention the existence of this settlement known by the name Čačak dates back to 1408. The Church became the residence of the Metropolitans in the XV century. Nikifor, the Metropolitan, bequeathed the bells with inscription to the Church in 1454.

Rose window of the medieval Church in Čačak: The medieval Church was heavily damaged during the Turkish occupation. Nevertheless, the Monastery estate was recorded in the first Turkish tax and land register, conducted in 1476 in Čačak. The Church remains were afterwards used for raising the Mosque by Hajrudin-Emin before 1560. In the coming decade, Turali-bey, the governor of the Smederevo Sanjak, completed the construction works, built minarets and raised Maktab (School) in the vicinity of the Mosque. After the treaty of Požarevac and the fall of northern Serbia into Austrian hands in 1718, the Mosque of Turali-bey, located in the moat of Čačak, was again turned into a Church. The restored Church – Dormition of the Theotokos was consecrated by Dositej Nikolić, Bishop of Valjevo, in 1723 after the Austro-Turkish War (1736-1739). Čačak was returned under Ottoman rule, the moat was destroyed, and the Church was again converted into Mosque.

During the course of liberation battles in the first Serbian uprising, the moat was heavily gunned with cannons; hence the Mosque was severely damaged. It was transformed into Church, nevertheless only several Divine Services were held in it by 1813. Since the uprising ended in failure, the Mosque was restored, only without the minaret. However, in the Serbian part of the settlement, Duke Jovan Obrenović built the Church of Saint George in 1820.

As Čačak was elected the centre of Užice episcopacy in October 1831, the necessity to have a distinguished Cathedral church was recognized, and thereafter the decision to remove distinctive features of Islam from the stone Mosque was strongly upheld. The restoration was finished by the end of summer. The Church was consecrated on 6th September 1834 by Bishop Nikifor Makimović who dedicated it to the Ascension of Jesus Christ. The construction works on iconostasis began in 1841, and were successfully completed 4 years later. Great iconostasis of the Church in Čačak was made by Živko Pavlović, an iconographer from Požarevac.

Having undergone the restoration in the period of 1856-1858, the Church gained its bells in the Baroque style. By the end of XIX century, the Church underwent the intensive reconstruction twice: in 1882 its spires were covered in copper and in 1898/96 it was renewed. The Church attained its current look after the restoration (1926-1929) supervised by architect Petar Popović.