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1,000 thirteenth- to eighteenth-century Byzantine and Serbian icons as well as sacred objects, various artifacts, and historical documents.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:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.