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 South portal, Gračanica
tin’s concessions to the conservative forces following his victory over his brother Dragutin in 1312. Prior to that date, at the height of the conflict between the brothers, Milutin may well have been ready to abandon the tradi- tional form of Serbian royal mausoleum churches in fa- vor of a new, Byzantine five-domed church type.
The proposed early date for Gračanica does not sig- nificantly alter our current understanding of King Milu- tin’s patronage of arts and architecture. On a somewhat more limited scale, it does change the relative chronolo- gy of three specific monuments—the Mother of God of Ljeviša, Staro Nagoričino, and Gračanica. Built by King Milutin, these three five-domed churches have always been considered to exist in a convenient chronological sequence. Our proposed date of 1311 for the beginning of Gračanica’s construction, however, eliminates the conven- tional notion of a linear path of development. This could also be deduced from our analysis of the architecture of these three churches. Whereas the Mother of God of Ljeviša and Gračanica, though different in building tech- nique and decorative elements, share certain common planning, spatial, and structural concepts, Staro Nagori-
Gračanica: King Milutin’s Church and its architecture
čino shows few affinities with Gračanica. at the same time, Staro Nagoričino displays great similarities with the Moth- er of God of Ljeviša in building technique and in the rep- ertoire of its decorative elements. it is possible that the original team of builders working on the Mother of God of Ljeviša was split up between the two following projects- -Gračanica and Staro Nagoričino.
This study has investigated a monument whose rela- tive importance has long been apparent. it has shown, however, that the importance of Gračanica exceeds the obvious. The examination of Gračanica, in the context of Serbia’s changing culture under King Milutin, and within the general framework of Late Byzantine church archi- tecture, compels us to revise the established notion char- acterizing it as one of the finest achievements of Serbian architecture under Byzantine influence. Gračanica, indeed, represents one of the summits of Late Byzantine archi- tecture in the most general sense.
Slobodan Ćurčić, Gračanica: King Milutin’s Church and Its Place in Late Byzantine Architecture (The Pennsylvania State University Press: 1979), pp. 1–11, 140–143.
Monograms of King Milutin, west wall of the naos, Gračanica 141

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