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Gojko Subotić
 Ground plan of the Saint Stephen church, Banjska Monastery
The fact that the monastery was well-fortified must have influenced the King’s decision to build a new large shrine on this site which was to be his sepulchral church, cautioned by the instance of Peć, for which a safer loca- tion was found after the devastation of the old archbish- opric in the vicinity of Trepča, a major mining center and a powerful citadel in the south of the state. Milutin’s bi- ographer states that in this regard the ruler sought the advice of his mother, Queen Helen, his brother Dragutin after their reconciliation in 1312, and archbishop Sava iii. Then he issued a chrysobull to the monastery granting it a large estate of seventy-five villages and hamlets and nine summer pasturelands with five hundred families, as well as certain royal privileges. The hegoumenos (prior) of Banjska was allotted the fourth position in rank of the most prestigious monasteries in the land after Studenica, Mileševa and Sopoćani. in the aforementioned monas- teries there lay the earthly remains of Simeon, the pro- genitor of the Nemanjić dynasty, the archbishop Sava, founder of the Serbian Church, and the ruler’s father King Uroš. Banjska was no longer to be the bishop’s seat. The new church with the ruler’s tomb was to enjoy a peaceful existence and that is why the charter of Saint Stephen stip- ulated that “the church should be the seat of neither an archbishopric, nor a metropolitan, nor a bishopric.” The King entrusted the building of the sumptuous endowment to Danilo himself who, as his disciple testifies, was well- versed in the builder’s craft.
all the sections of the Banjska complex reveal the un- derlying concept of unity and the skillfulness of its mas- ter-builders. Today we can see only certain structures on the northern side where during Ottoman rule buildings housing the imaret (Ottoman mess halls for the poor) and a mosque were built within the fortification which itself had encroached upon a part of the church. inside, one can today still see the elements of construction materials which suited the requirements of the islamic cult.
in the upper section of the monastery, separate from the pyrgos and the ramparts was the refectory with a broad apse for the table of the hegoumenos and distinguished elders who shared the most important duties with him. The elongated rectangular part had built-in seats with carefully carved stone tables which could accommodate a large number of monks. a wide span between the walls indicates that, as was customary, the hall had a wooden roof, while its proportions and beautiful execution rank it among exceptional specimens of this kind of premises, of prime importance in the life of monastic communities.
Below the refectory, downward along the southern ram- parts there follow a string of cells with a common portico facing the church. although basically simple, preserved only in its lower part and made of spatial elements of equal—sized floor plans with rhythmically placed piers, the building allows us to imagine its former appearance with perhaps the same or similar premises on the upper

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