Манастир Црна Река

Manastir Crna Reka

Useful Information

Location: 31, Ribariće.
(42.9472694, 20.4681344)
Open: All year daily.
Fee: free, donations welcome.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Accessibility: no
Address: Manastir Crna Reka, 31, Ribariće, Tel: +381-20-453400, Tel: +381-668-881290.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


13th century monastery built.
15th century monastery home to a famous hesychast named St. Ioanichios.
16th century frescoes in the church created.
1687 the relics of St. Stephen the First and other valuables at Studenica were in danger and thus transferred to this monastery.
1696 relics and valuables returned.
1979 Artemije settles in the deserted monastery and soon gathers a young brotherhood around him.
2010 Artemije is removed as bishop of Raška-Prizren, the monks of this monastery leave the monastery.
2010 Archimandrite Jovan (Jelenkov) is new abbot of the monastery.


Манастир Црна Река (Manastir Crna Reka, Black River Monastery) is a cave monastery, built into the vertical cliff. Actually the church and the monk cells are built into cliffside caves, above the Black River. The monastery is accessible only by a roofed wooden bridge, by foot, across the Black River. The church is dedicated to Свети архангели Михаило и Гаврило (Sveti arhangeli Mihailo i Gavrilo, archangels Michael and Gabriel). It has frescoes showing the archangels and several Saints. The church is orthodox, so there are also numerous icons.

The monastery was built in the 12th or 13th century, some say it was founded after the Battle of Kosovo. But actually, the founder and the founding date are unknown. The monastery is at a very remote location, but it was renovated only a few years ago, so it is in an excellent state. The monastery was never destroyed or attacked, so it is actually one of the few Serbian monasteries, which have preserved their original appearance. In 1687, the relics of St. Stephen the First and other valuables at Studenica were in danger and thus transferred to this monastery. They were returned in 1696, nine years later. In the 18th century, Turkish atrocities and arson were recorded. After that, the monastery was abandoned a long time ago, until in 1979 the bishop of Raška-Prizren, Artemije, settled in this deserted monastery. His new ideas were very popular, and soon he gathered a young brotherhood around him. With the help of Crnoreč monks, he gradually restored the other male monasteries of the Raško-Prizren eparchy.

But when Artemije was replaced as Bishop in 2010, the monks of the brotherhood of the Crna Reka monastery left the monastery. All the monks left, and the monastery was empty again, the website was shut down soon after. The entire fraternity of the monastery requested a canonical release from the diocese, but they were refused. They left regardless.

The area is karstified limestone, the caves are natural karst caves. But that's not the only impressive karst feature here. Black River aka Sovara River is actually dry below the monastery and the wooden bridge. It vanishes in a river sink right above the monastery and reappears 100 m downstream from the monastery. Only in times of very much water in the river, during snow melt and after heavy rains, the river has more water than the sinks can swallow and the river flows in front of the monastery. But of course there is a legend.

Saint Peter was once in the cave church, praying to God, while below the river was roaring in its bed. After some time Saint Peter got angry, he stopped his prayer and said "Shut up for once, black river!" A miracle happened and the river actually went silent.

Inside the cave there is a spot with dripping water. The people believe the dripping water has healing properties. It is collected drop by drop in a basin.

The monastery has a shrine with relics of Saint Peter Koriški. His relics were first located at the SubterraneaHermitage of St. Peter of Koriša in Korisha in Kosovo. But during the culmination of the Turkish-Albanian violence against the Orthodox in the 17th century, they were transferred to Crna Reka. There is also a local legend that he actually lived here as a hermit for some time.

The current situation at the monastery is unclear. The website of the brothers who lived here until 2010 was turned off soon after. The new website of the new monks was never realized. We read different newspaper articles, one of them states that the monastery complex now houses a church rehabilitation centre for drug addicts. As there are numerous high-quality photographs on Google Maps, we guess the site is accessible.