Church of Saint Nicetas in Banjane is a medieval Orthodox church. The monastery and church, dedicated to Saint Nicetas, was built by the Serbian king Milutin ca. 1300 on the ruins of a previous church. The monastery was donated by Milutin short after their construction to the Serb monastery Chilandar on Mount Athos. St Nicetas was thoroughly renovated in 1484.
Saint Nicetas has a simple cross-in-square base with a central come standing on pandantifs and four columns. The outer decoration is typically Byzantine, done in layers of stone and red brick. The nicest decoration is to be found on the wall of the apse.
The signature on the shield of St Theodore reveals that the church was painted by the famous Michael, son of Eutichios, the favorite court painter of King Milutin who painted many other of his churches as well (for example Staro Nagoričane). The frescoes are well preserved and all date from around 1324, except those in the dome which are from 19th century, done by the well-known Dimitar 'Dičo Zograf' Krstević.
One of the reasons for their good condition was the renovation of 1484 done in an astonishingly modern manner by the group that fresco painted Treskavec Monastery (1483), old katholikon of the Monastery of Great Meteoron (1483) and the church of St Nicholas of the Nun Eupraxia in Kastoria (1486).
In the lowest section are represented life size figures of saints. In the middle section we see Christ's miracles while in the upper parts of the church are representations of Passion. The inscriptions are in Greek and Church Slavonic of Serbian redaction.
The iconostasis of the church was painted in 1846-1847 by Dičo Zograf.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).