News 05 Feb 13

Medieval Monastery in Macedonia Partly Torched

A blaze on Monday at the Treskavec monastery near Prilep burned down the monks' quarters - though firefighters and volunteers saved the church and its ancient frescoes.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Photo by: MIA

The fire completely destroyed the monks' quarters but firefighters managed to save the valuable Church of the Holy Mother of God in the centre of the complex. No one was injured.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but authorities fear the damage will be substantial, considering the historic and cultural value of the complex.

The whole of the Prilep firefighting brigade and three helicopters were sent to the site to extinguish the blaze. Some 200 volunteers from nearby villages responded to the authorities call for help.

The monastery is near the rocky hilltop called Zlatovrv, in a serene surrounding some ten kilometres from the central town of Prilep, affording a magnificent view of the Pelagonia valley. It is believed to date from the 12th and 13th century.

It is also home to an extensive collection of Byzantine frescoes, some considered  masterpieces of Orthodox Christian art. It is frequently visited by believers and tourists.

The authorities promised swift reconstruction.

Following a visit, the Minister of culture, Elizabeta Kanceska Milevska, said she would report to the government about the tragedy and come up with an action plan for reconstruction.

Photo by: Geoff Wong

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