One of the smallest churches in Serbia is located in the gorge of Moravica river, at an altitude of 660 meters and on a steep rock.
To this shrine, from which the palm of half of western Serbia can be seen, only one narrow and rocky path leads. Nevertheless, the Church of St. Elijah on Gradina is visited annually by several thousand believers.
It has existed for several centuries and during the Turkish rule, it represented the only place in that region where Serbs and faith in God were preserved.
– Serbia has been enslaved under the Turks for five centuries, and during all that time our people have succeeded in preserving Christianity by praying in inaccessible churches that resisted the enemy’s hand. It was often the case that, before the Turks invaded, on their hands and horses, they transferred the remnants of the church from one hill to another, and precisely because of their resourcefulness, faith was preserved – ethnologist Snežana Ašanin told RINA.
The small church of Saint Elijah is small in size, the walls are painted white, and a curved cross still stands on the roof, made of hewn stone, despite all the winds and thunder. A massive oak door leads into the interior, and only two believers can enter this spiritual house at a time because there is no place left.
– The fact that this church is extremely small does not diminish its value. Its symbolism and significance are extremely large and the same as that of the larger religious buildings. People here prayed to God for the health and happiness of their families in extremely difficult conditions – Snežana emphasized.
Worship services are held three times a year at the White Covenants, Saint Elijah Day and the Resurrection of the Baptist King. When a steep path leads to a shrine, believers should walk around the church three times, and according to popular belief, one who is sinful should not embark on this adventure, as it can fall into the abyss.
At the very bottom of the church is an archeological excavation of Gradina Tower that dates back to the 13th century and was a military fortification because of the geographical location it was not easy prey to the enemy.