Serbs outside Serbia
- a preservation of cultural identity
Serbs today live in about hundred different countries worldwide. Despite the
fact that the exact number of them living abroad has not been established
yet, as precise statistics was not kept, it could be taken with reliability
that about four million Serbs live outside Serbia. However, the number increased particularly at the beginning
of 1990s, after the disintegration of former Yugoslavia, followed by civil war in some separated republics.
Serbian Ortodox Church of St. Archangel Michael,
Serbian history recorded several migrations of population
fleeing war and famine or simply seeking better life. The largest one began
soon after the battle of Kosovo and fall of the Serbian lands under the
Turkish supremacy. In early 15th century a lot of Serbian
noblemen obtained vast possessions in southern Hungary, and settled there
Cathedral Church of the Dormition
Mother of God, Szentandre
fall of the Serbian Despotate in 1459 mass movements of the Serbs were
intensified. Both Hungarian and German records reveal the fact that by the
mid 16th century the Serbs constituted the majority in Banat, which was then named Rascia
after them, and the seat of which was in Temisoara.
of the Serbs into Panonia continued in the 17th century, when
they settled northwestern part of the Balkans and became the basis of the
Austrian Militärgrenze, or Military Frontier. After the War of the Christian
forces (1683-1699), Vojna Krajina, what was the Slavic name for the region,
was considerably extended eastwards.
their migrations the Serbs reached the extreme east of the Balkans and
settled the region connecting Gallipolis and Thrace. There they remained until the Balkan wars and the
Greek War of Independence, when they moved to Pehcevo, in eastern Macedonia, close to Bulgaria. In 1690 Archbishop Arsenije
III Crnojevic of Pec led a migration of 30,000–40,000 families from “Old
Serbia” and southern Bosnia across the Danube and Sava. The extreme point they reached
was Gornja Zemlja (Upper Land) and the town of Komoran, today in Slovakia, which became religious and secular center of the
Serbian people. Consequently, Serbian middle class won strong positions in
many Hungarian towns, such as Buda, Pest, Ostrogon, Szentendre, Gyor, Yerga, Stoni Beograd, Pecs, Baja, Szeged, Temisoara and Arad. Another wave of Serbian
migrations, called “A journey to the East”, began by
Serbian Ortodox Church of the Holy Transfiguration
of Jesus Christ, Szentandre
the mid 18th century and was directed towards Russia and Ukraine. On the model of
Austrian Military Frontier, two new regions were organized there - Nova
(New) Serbia and Slav-Serbia.
In Russia the Serbs had lived in over thirty settlements, which were
named after the towns and places from their homeland. In each they built a
church. However, these Serbs gradually assimilated with ethnically similar
Mass migrations of the Serbs in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries marked a period of new movements, now
directed towards the USA, Canada and South America. The last migration coincided with the secession of
several republics of former Yugoslavia (Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina), from where waves
of refugees fled and moved not only to the parent country but also to
numerous European and overseas countries.
The Serbs participated in both World Wars. Many of them were
killed in them, while certain number ended in the POW and concentration
camps in Austro-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria or Turkey. Hence a lot of
Serbian soldiers’ cemeteries throughout Europe, even in Asia and Africa. While some of them are well looked
after, the others are neglected.
Monastery of Gomirje
territories they settled the Serbs built churches, temples and monasteries.
Many of these sanctuaries are later purposely destroyed or devastated, in
particular to exterminate the traces of the Serbian presence there. Apart
from numerous donors and benefactors, the Republic of Serbia
also did its best to restore these churches and monasteries throughout the
world. Among other reconstruction works, the following should be mentioned:
the monastery of Chilandar, the Cathedral Church and the Church of St. George in Temisoara, the churches in
In Hungary, in the eparchy of Buda, the
monastery of Grabovac ranges among famous and well-known monuments. The
monks from the monastery of Dragovici in Dalmatia built its original church and residence, in 1587.
are also several Serbian monasteries in Romania, in the eparchy of Temisoara: Bezijas on the bank of
the Danube, Bezdin on the Moris river,
Zlatica and Kusic on the Nera and St. George on the Brzava. However, many Serbian monasteries could be
found in former Yugoslav republics Croatia and Bosnia;
all of them were considerably damaged during the civil war 1991-1995.
The most famous holy object of the Serbian Orthodox Church is
the monastery of Chilandar, on Athos, built on the ruins of the derelict
Greek monastery by the monk Simeon (Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the
Nemanjic dynasty) and his son Sava. At the beginning of the 14th
century, King Milutin undertook the restoration and expansion of the
monastery and erected the new church, present one, dedicated to Mother of
God. Through centuries, Chilandar remained a keeper and nursery of Serbian
spirituality and culture, the place for prayers, first Serbian university
and literary center.
houses the enormous art treasure, including icons, manuscripts and rare
copies of printed Cyrillic books, charters and other monastery valuables.
Apart from these sacral objects, the monastery possesses a considerable
collection of coins, rings, documents, objects used in everyday life, as
well as objects made of ceramics and textile. Unfortunately, in 2004 the
monastery suffered severe devastation caused by fire.
cemetery of Zejtinlik in Thessalonica
number of monuments related to the Serbian history is situated in Greece, and refers mostly to the First
World War. Of particular importance are the ossuary at the Greek island of Vido and Serbian military cemetery
Zejtinlik in Thessalonica.
as regards monuments and movable cultural heritage of Serbian origin in
other countries, their fate is much less documented.
Serbian cultural heritage abroad, both movable and immovable, includes 137
churches, six monasteries, several tens of sacral objects and undoubtedly
rich fund of books, documents and other art works.
one can conclude that immovable heritage in adjacent countries, of notable
importance for Serbian culture and history, make significant fund of
monuments, which has long continuity. Among almost 150 sacral objects with paintings,
icons and iconostasis of extraordinary beauty, made by famous Serbian
baroque masters, the monuments of folk architecture with preserved
ethnological and other objects, the two of them are of exceptional
importance - the monastery of Chilandar in Greece and Szentandre in Hungary.
monuments of Serbian origin certainly deserves a care not only of the
countries on which territories they are located but also of the mother
country, which should invest much more responsibility and determination to
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