Municipality of Prilep
Municipality of Prilep
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History of art

History of Art Department operates at the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, Natural Rarities and Museum - Prilep since 1960, initially as a Gallery, and then turned into a History of Art Department.


Activities in the field of protection of cultural monuments:

  • Insight in the condition of the immovable and movable cultural heritage;
  • Records of the immovable and movable cultural heritage;
  • Valorization and revalorization;
  • Research and development of projects for execution of protective interventions of the immovable and movable cultural heritage;
  • Preventive and protective interventions of the immovable and movable cultural heritage;
  • Conservation and restoration works of the immovable and movable cultural heritage;


Activities in the field of the museum work:

  • Collection of museum material;
  • Inventarisation and re-inventarisation of museum material;
  • Research works;
  • Presentation and publication of processed material;






The fund of registered sacred cultural monuments on the territories of the municipalities: Prilep, Dolneni, Krivogashtani, and Vitolishte which cover the territory of the former municipality of Prilep, is as follows:

Byzantine period

  1. St. Dimitrija Church, Varosh
  2. St. Nikola Church, Varosh
  3. St. Nikola Church, village Manastir
  4. Monastery church Uspenie na St. Bogorodica, Treskavec
  5. Monastery church St. Spas (St. Preobrazenie), village Zrze

Post – byzantine period

  1. St. Nikola Church, village Zrze
  2. Monastery church St. Nikola, village Slepche
  3. St. Bogorodica Church, village Kostinci
  4. St. Bogorodica Prechista Church, Varosh
  5. St. Petar Church, Varosh

Revival period

  1. Iconostasis in the church St. Blagoveshtenie, Prilep

Apart from the registered sacred monuments of culture, History of Art Department processes all the other recorded sacred objects registered in Prilep and its surroundings. In addition to preventive care and conservation and restoration works, records are kept and movable material which is located in all the listed facilities (icons, bibliographical material and other church inventory) is processed.



After the overcoming of the iconoclast crisis, due to the proximity of Byzantium, art in Macedonia was experiencing a fast growth. Accepting the Byzantine style as their own way of artistic creation, the Macedonian Slavs become active factor giving their own contribution to the general trends of its development.

Prilep is one of the centers in Macedonia in which Byzantine art reached its peak. For fresco painting of the churches and monasteries, apart from the local, also craftsmen from Constantinople and Thessaloniki were called, who demonstrated not only artistic, but their theological education by creating their works of art in this region. Some of them, even in the strictest artistic valorization got a high position in the History of Art, not only among us but broader.



Monastery church St. Archangel Michael, Varosh

The oldest paintings in the Prilep region are the remains of frescoes found on a collapsed wall under the floor of the church St. Archangel Michael in Varosh, on which Ktitor composition is painted. So far, all findings lead to the fact that this wall is only a part of the oldest church dating from the XII century.

The frescoes in the western part of the church belong to a very talented icon painter from the second half of the XIII century. Although quite damaged, these frescoes show that there were painted compositions from the cycles of Sufferings of Christ and Miracles of St. Archangel Michael. Right of the entrance door in the first zone is painted the founder of the church, the great hartular of the West Jovan, with the model of the church in his hands.

In the monastery yard, as well as in the church porch, can be found fragments from ancient times. Both monolithic stone pillars on which rests the roof construction of the porch, are remains from the Ancient Period. On the north pillar was discovered carved inscription from 996 which mentions Bishop Andrea. This is the second old Slavic inscription in Cyrillic letters.

In 1964 archaeological excavations began in the church and around it, and in 1981 began the process of conservation of paintings.


St. Dimitrija Church, Varosh

Part of the frescoes in the altar of the central nave in the church St. Dimitrija in Varosh belongs to a very conservative icon painter from XIII century. North of the iconostasis a chest of St. Bogorodica with Christ is painted under which is written a text that prayerfully mentions the Byzantine emperor Andronicus II and his wife Irina.

Ktitor of the great rebuilding of the church in XIII century and at the same time orderer of the painting was the Byzantine ruler Dimitrie Misinopolit whose ktitor composition is painted on the southern nave.

Around 1380 the higher zones of the church were painted by the famous icon painter who lived and worked in the monastery Zrze, Metropolitan Jovan.

In 1959 archaeological excavations began in the church and around it, and in 1960 began the conservation of the frescoes, which lasted until 1970.


St. Nikola Church, Varosh

The frescoes in the church St. Nikola in Varosh were painted in two phases. Regardless of the inscription on the north wall, which states that the church was painted in 1298 by order of the Byzantine ruler Vekos Kapza and his wife Mary, the frescoes in the apse differ from the rest and according to the stylistic features they date from the end of the XII or at the very beginning of the XIII century.

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Archaeological excavations started in 1959, and restoration and conservation works on the architecture and the frescoes started in 1961.



St. Nikola Church, village Manastir

A clear idea of the painting in the second half of XIII century offer the frescoes in the church St. Nikola in the village Manastir. The fresco painting was completed in 1271 during the reign of Mihajlo VIII Palaeologist. The long inscription in the main nave explains the history of the church. It says that the fresco painting was done under the leadership of Deacon Jovan, "referendar of the Holy Archiepiscopate," who invited several prominent masters to do the fresco painting in this church.

Conservation and restoration works on the architecture and the frescoes started in 1965 and lasted until 1970.


Uspenie na St. Bogorodica Church, monastery Treskavec

The frescoes in the Church Uspenie na St. Bogorodica, in monastery Treskavec were painted in several phases. The oldest frescoes that cover the walls of the exo-narthex and the side compartments were made by order of King Stefan Dushan in the period between 1334 and 1343 and generally refer to the illustrations from the church calendar. Separate entity is the fresco painting in the northwest dome where the composition “Heavenly yard” is painted.

On the surface of the walls and the dome in the naos are preserved frescoes that belong to a stylistic entirety, creation of one particular group of painters who were creating in the second half of XV century.

The altar, after the major damage, was restored and in 1570 re-painted.

Inside the church there is a carved folding door which dates from the XVI century and belongs to the Prilep - Slepche school.

The conservation of the frescoes was made in 1959.

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St. Preobrazenie Church, Zrze monastery

In 1368/9 frescoes in the porch of the monastery church St. Preobrazenie, monastery Zrze were painted. Frescoes were painted by the icon painter Dragoslav who left his signature on the lowest zone of the north wall. The artist, from the western part of the church made a separate chapel with unusual iconography for this region: on the west wall he painted the composition “Gostoljubie Avramovo”, and underneath “Prichestuvanje na Apostolite”. Both compositions have eucharistic symbolism and are painted in the altar. The Deisis with the twelve apostles, placed on the iconostasis is a creation of the monk Macarius, and it was done around 1400.

Conservation and restoration works on the architecture and the frescoes started in 1960. In 1999, preventive care on the fresco painting in the church and the porch was undertaken.

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With the arrival of the Ottomans on the Balkan, the thread of the icon painting and picturesquely art on the territory of today’s Macedonia was interrupted. Turkish authorities respected the old churches and monasteries, but prohibited building new ones. Therefore, the fresco painting gradually abandoned the cultural centers and general urban areas and transferred in the rural areas, where new churches were secretly built.

In these conditions, fresco painting continues to exist, but of course not with the enthusiasm and perfection as in the previous period. Fresco painters and icon painters gained their education in some of the local workshops or were uneducated, so the painting in the Post - Byzantine period, from artistic and theological view, was well behind the painting from the earlier Byzantine period.


St. Ilija Church, village Dolgaec

St. Ilija Church in the village Dolgaec, was built in 1451 and painted in 1454/5. It represents first full realization since the time of Ottoman ruling in the Prilep-Bitola region. The style of painting in iconographic terms was quite interesting, but with lower artistic qualities.

In 1999, preventive care of the frescoes was performed.


St. Nikola Church, village Zrze

St. Nicolas Church in the village Zrze was painted in the first half of XVI century. The author of the fresco painting was Onufrie, who had also painted the frescoes in the eastern part of the monastery church St. Preobrazenie in the same village. In his method of painting appears strange unification of the Byzantine tradition with the tradition of the Italian-Byzantian and Italian-Cretan workshops.

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St. Atanasie Aleksandriski Church, village Rilevo

The inscription above the window on the south wall gives information that the church St. Atanasie in Rilevo village was constructed and painted in 1627 by master Ivan from Kicevo and icon painter Jon from Kastoria. Although the artist Jon comes from a center in which thrives Byzantine and Post – Byzantine art, the frescoes in Rilevo are with poor quality. Figures are with flat bodies, without strength and without harmonic proportions.


St. Bogorodica Church, village Kostinci

St. Bogorodica Church, in village Kostinci was constructed and painted in 1624/5. In XIX century the fresco painting was replicated with a new layer. In 1997 the Institute and Museum - Prilep started with conservation of the architecture and the frescoes. Today most of the frescoes from the XIX century is removed, so it is safe to say that the fresco painting in Kostinci is creation of artists who knew well not only the iconography, but also the painting technique.



St. Atanasie Church, village Galichani

From the fragmentarily preserved fresco painting in the church Sv.Atanasie in the village Galichani, can be concluded that in terms of artistic value, it can be included among the average achievements of the first half of XVII century.

In 1999, preventive care on the frescoes was undertaken, in order to avoid possible damage during the conservation and restoration works on the architecture.


Monastery church St. Nikola, village Slepche

The monastery church St. Nikola in village Slepce is the last church building from the time of Ottoman ruling in the Prilep region. It is built and painted in 1672/3. From the inscription above the entrance door can be seen the name of the chief icon painter Stojan, who as a good expert in iconography filled the small wall spaces with more scenes and figures. There is a carved iconostasis in the church, with a Large Cross which dates from the XVII century.

In 1998, preventive care on the frescoes was undertaken.

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In the XVIII and XIX century Turkish authorities remained consistent in the prohibition of building new churches and monasteries on the territory of today’s Macedonia. However, the Christian population in Prilep managed to obtain permission for building of two monumental churches in the town, and they are Cathedral Sv.Blagoveshtenie, built in 1838 and St. Preobrazenie Church built in 1871. In the rural areas near Prilep from this time, date large number of smaller single-nave churches with modest dimensions and architectural construction solutions. Exceptions are several three-nave churches in the villages Beshishte, Trojaci, Topolchani, villages that probably had greater economic power.

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The Church Sv.Blagoveshtenie in Prilep is a monumental three-nave temple, with three semicircular apses on the eastern side and outstanding architecture. Above the southern and northern nave there are galleries, and above the western portal also a gallery is built that represents a space for the church choir. The most impressive part of this sacred object is the well-crafted carved wooden work or iconostasis and the bishop's throne and the wellspring. The iconostasis on which herbal ornaments prevail, is made by of the famous master - wood carver Dimitar Stanishev, while the archbishop's throne and the wellspring are created by the most famous wood carver in Macedonia and the Balkans - Petre Filipovich - Garkata.

St. Preobrazenie Church represents a three-nave, five-dome monumental building in inscribed cross and indicated central dome. On its northwest side a long porch spreads that is placed on pilasters and arches. Among the people it is known as the "Greek church" because Grecophones and and Vlach population in Prilep managed to obtain a firman from Constantinople to build church. Frescoes in the church are with modest artistic qualities.

In seventy churches and monasteries of the former municipality of Prilep 2100 icons are registered that originate mostly from the XIX century, and there is a small part created in XVI and XVII century, by domestic craftsmen or by famous icon painting schools from the wider region of Macedonia.

Icon painting and fresco painting in XVIII and XIX century are with modest artistic qualities, despite the attempts of some craftsmen - painters to reach the level of the old Byzantine style. Most famous local masters from this period, recognizable by their vivid colors and smoothly shaped figures of saints are the icon painter Adamche and his student Jovan Atanasof, especially painter Adamche in whose paintings Mother of God with Christ are dominant. Strong mark with their presence and creation on the territory of the Municipality of Prilep left painter Dicho, painter Papradishki, and especially the gang of Petre Filipovich - Garkata and his son-in-law Dimitar Stanishev.

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Approaching with great enthusiasm and love towards the protection of the cultural heritage, the National Museum from Prilep in the early 1960s begins with a very important and complex activity, which is, among all other values in the depots to be collected all the icons and other church inventory from the abandoned churches and monasteries in the Prilep region. Thus the first steps are made towards forming the Collection of icons.

Today the Collection of icons at the Institute for Protection of the cultural monuments, Natural Rarities and Museum - of Prilep has 167 icons. In addition to the icons two wings from royal gates are also registered, two part Act, more fragments carve from iconostasis and complete painting kit from Prilep artist Jovan Atanasof.

Based on the painting-style analysis, only a small part of the icons belongs to the XVI, XVII and XVIII century, while most are from the XIX century.