Amidst lavish Trebinje woods and bountiful vines of Popovo Polje, on the left bank of the Trebišnjica River, snuggles the southernmost Orthodox spiritual centre of Bosnia & Herzegovina – Duži Monastery. Once an estate and a refuge of Tvrdoš Monastery, as well as an epicentre of the Herzegovina Uprisings, this sanctuary used to play a significant role in the history of the larger area. Destroyed and abandoned many times, the monastery resurrected in the 1950s, when it became a nunnery. Nowadays, in this oasis of peace and contemplation, the silence is interrupted only by church bells and busy bees. So, if you are in Trebinje or on the Adriatic coast, keep in mind that in less than 15 minutes of driving, you can find this temple of serenity since 1694.
Dating back to the late 17th century, this shrine is dedicated to the Shroud of the Holy Virgin Mary, and it belongs to the group of younger monasteries in Herzegovina. Situated 10 km southwest of Trebinje, the church of Duži Monastery is a one-nave building with a semi-circular altar and the church tower with three bells. Made of white stones with engraved relief, it is a good example of a typical Herzegovinian church that fits perfectly into the Mediterranean ambient, combined with the Byzantine style. After the WWI, in this monastery were some monks that fled the Russian Empire in the wake of the October Revolution, who fresco painted the church. In spite of countless devastations and robberies, the biggest treasure of Duži - a fragment of the Holy Cross, is still well-preserved here.
An early existence of this sanctuary is strongly interlinked with the history of the nearby Tvrdoš Monastery. Situated only nine kilometres on the south of Tvrdoš and being its estate, it also became a refuge for the metropolitan bishop and monks in 1694, when the cradle of Orthodoxy in Herzegovina was destroyed by the Venetians. The metropolitan seat remained in this monastery until 1776, when it was relocated to Mostar. The Tvrdoš brotherhood enlarged and reconstructed a good part of Duži Monastery. Important relics were also brought to Duži at that time.
Besides its spiritual role, the monastery Duži during its turbulent history was also an epicentre of the Herzegovina Uprising against the Ottomans from 1857-1877. In the aftermath of those events, being devastated and looted many times by the Turks, the shrine was abandoned and re-inhabited with the arrival of the Austro-Hungarians. Deserted after the WWII, it was finally rebuilt by the nuns in the 1950s. Since then, the reconstructions are permanently ongoing. The last decades of Duži Monastery, a temple of serenity since 1694, were far more peaceful, which resulted in their focussing on beekeeping, as well as wine-making like the brotherhood in the Tvrdoš Winery. An insider’s tip: when you come to this place, don’t forget to visit the nearby Monastery of St. Peter & St. Paul, one of the oldest in the Balkans.
Pictures © Credits to Tourism organisation of Trebinje
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