Isposnica Svetog Save

испосница Светог Саве - Anchoress of St. Sava - Hermitage of Saint Sava - Gornja Savina Hermitage

Useful Information

Location: In the Studenica valley 12 km upstream from Studenica monastery. Follow trail marked with red dot in a white circle or red-white stripes. (43.5263, 20.4699)
Open: All year daily after appointment.
Visit Studenica Monastery first for help and guidance by the monastery monks.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: bring torch
Guided tours:  
Photography: only in certain areas
Accessibility: no
Address: Isposnica Svetog Save.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1183 to 1195 monastery erected.


The Горња испосница Светог Саве (Upper Hermitage of Saint Sava) is a medieval cave monastery built into the overhanging cliff high above the Studenica river. The main building is a round tower which looks like a beehive, as it has no roof. The wall is built to form a segment of a cupola which connects directly to the cliff wall. The building is reached on a wooden bridge, which was built in front of the cliff. Several smaller caves were used to erect small buildings or chapels.

The monastery was erected between 1183 and 1195 by a servant of Stefan Nemanja, the medieval Grand Prince of the Serbian Grand Principality, while he was building the monastery of Studenica. His son Rastko Nemanja spent some time at the monastery and later became the first Archbishop of Serbia. When he became Saint Sava, the monastery was named after him. At least according to legend, as there is not much historical information on the monastery. Another legend tells that there was no monastery when Saint Sava returned from Hilandar. He went to a small cave in the cliff were he stayed in solitude and peace during Lent. During his time here he wrote Studenički tipik and the Life of Saint Simeon. There is also a version where he established an entire copying school in an inaccessible gorge from which books written in Serbian and Cyrillic originated. It is unclear if this was here or if it is even true.

While the view is breathtaking and the building is exceptional, the visit is quite strenuous. As the monastery is not inhabited it is normally closed. You should first go to the medieval monastery of Studenica, which is located 12 km down the valley towards Ušće. The monks guide visitors, and actually the castle-like monastery is also well worth a visit. Parking at the road in the valley, at the turnoff to Savovo, you have to ascend by foot some 400 m, the valley floor is at 540 m asl and the monastery at 940 m asl. Halfway in a wooded valley you will pass Lower Saint Sava monastery. Here you may find two or three monks from the Studenica monastery as they look after the property. The lower monastery is inhabited, but not continually. There is also a spring which is called Saint Savas spring. The walk is at least an hour if you are physically fit.

And a final advice: please do not eat meat while you are on the sacred land of Saint Sava. The border is a little uphill from the road. According to the rule of Saint Sava it is a sacrilege to eat meat or cut trees on sacred land. And actually it should not be too difficult to eat no meat for three hours.