Hilandar Monastery is the northern most monastery located on the northeast side of the Athos Peninsula. The monastery was founded in 1198 by saints Sava and Simeon. The Monastery has been supported and populated by Serbian monkssince then. It is ranked fourth in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Mount Athos peninsula.
After forming the Serbian state Stephen Nemanja, the Grand Župan of Serbia, in the Council of Ras in 1196 established the basis for smooth successions of power within the state. He, then, abdicated in favor of his middle son Stefan and proceeded to pursue a life of spirituality and pray as the monk Simeon. He joined his youngest son, Rastko, who earlier had taken the monastic name of Sava and lived on Mount Athos. With the approval of the Emperor Alexius III Angelicus, who in his chrysobull of 1198 declared Hilandar as an independent monastery dedicated to the Serbians, the father and son began restoring the ruins of the old monastery as the foundation of the present day community.
Hilandar became the spiritual and religious center for the Serbs. In 1430, the Holy Mountain of Athos was occupied by the Ottoman Turks. While the Turks did not interfere with the autonomy of the monastic communities the monks were affected by the lost of income from their estates that had been taken by the occupying Turks. Thus, their survival became difficult under the new overlords. The monastery remained a symbol of Serbian culture and religious continuity and was endowed by Serbian rulers through the centuries.
Whereas most of the monastic communities on Mount Athos are built on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, Hilandar is located a few kilometers in land. The complex includes within its protective walls a katholikon and a number of small chapels, as well as cells for the monks, guest quarters, a library, treasury, and a hospital.
On March 4, 2004, a major fire sweeps through the monastery that destroyed about half the structures in the monastery. The medieval heirlooms and relics that made up the treasures of the monastery were moved to safety, but major damage was done to the abbot's cell and guest rooms as well as four chapels with the 17th and 18th century frescoes. Restoration of the damage is on going.
The monastery possesses over 1,000 thirteenth- to eighteenth-century Byzantine and Serbian icons as well as sacred objects, various artifacts, and historical documents. Many of these dated from the thirteenth century. The library contains a collection of books and some 1,000 manuscripts including Cyrillic manuscripts and the first printed books in Serbian. The library also holds many books in Russian, Bulgarian, and Greek.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.