The spiritual sanctuary of the Serbs and of the entire Orthodox world, Hilandar, burned to this day in 2004, and a large part of the famous monastery was destroyed in flames.
The fire, which spread across the roofs, completely destroyed part of the monastery complex – from the Abbot’s cell, through the hospitality room to St. Sava’s tower.
The monastery thread from the 14th to the 19th century and four chapels – a small inner church – were burned.
The fire spread from the chimney in the Igumenarius residence on the west side. At first, the monks managed to localize and even extinguish the fire on the lower floor of the Abbess.
However, in inaccessible places, the smoldering continued and engulfed a wooden beam that led to the roof on the other side of the building, igniting a wooden roof structure covered with stone.
Since the monastery, like a medieval settlement, was made up of objects in a row, the fire quickly spread over the roof structure of the entire northern half of the monastery, all the way to the chapel of St. Archangel Michael and the tower of the St. Sava.
In the first hours, the monks tried to overcome the elements and evacuate the most sacred objects and valuables. There was also a short prayer service at the church in front of the miraculous icon of the “Trojeručica” (a famous wonderworking icon depicting the Virgin Mary with young Jesus in the hodegetria position).
Firefighters managed to master the inaccessible Mount Athos and arrived only in the morning.
The threads were burning for hours as the fire descended to the lower floors gradually after the wooden structure had burned and loosened under the weight of the collapsed stone slabs of the roof covering.
The wind contributed to the spread of the fire throughout the northern half of the monastery complex, and at the same time prevented it from being transferred south from the Abbotarium to the dining room of King Milutin. In this way, the most valuable treasures, sacred icons, and handwritten heritage have been preserved from total destruction.
The Hilandar Brotherhood was among the first to receive help from monks from the monasteries of Mount Athos. The next day, the help arrived…
Hilandar had been destroyed in large fires before – in 1722, according to contemporaries, the fire consumed everything from St. Sava’s tower to St. George’s tower.
However, the most devastating fire was on March 4, 2004. 5,897 square meters or nearly 55 percent of the usable area was destroyed and badly damaged.
The chapel of the 40 Holy Martyrs is completely gone, the chapels of St. Dimitri, St. Sava and St. Nicholas have been significantly damaged…
The Hilandar restoration is expected to be fully completed in 2022.
The Holy Imperial Serbian Lavra of Hilandar and one of the most significant spiritual and cultural centers of the Serbian people is located on Mount Athos, an autonomous monastic community in northern Greece, on the eastern tip of the Halkidiki Peninsula.
It was founded on the ruins of an older monastery in 1198 by former Grand Leader Stefan Nemanja (1166-1196) and his youngest son Rastko, later Saint Sava.