He led me through the massive cathedral's cavernous nave and shadowy arcades, pointing out its fading splendors. Under the great dome, filtered amber light revealed vaulted arches, galleries and semi-domes, refracted from exquisite mosaics depicting the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus as well as long-vanished patriarchs, emperors and saints. Yet the overall impression was one of dingy neglect and piecemeal repair. I gazed up at patches of moisture and peeling paint; bricked-up windows; marble panels, their incised surfaces obscured under layers of grime; and walls covered in mustard-colored paint applied by restorers after golden mosaics had fallen away. The depressing effect was magnified by a tower of cast-iron scaffolding that cluttered the nave, testament to a lagging, intermittent campaign to stabilize the beleaguered monument.
UNESCO's Committee for World Heritage, at a July conference held in Vilnius, Lithuania, decided to include the Church of Our Lady of Ljeviš, the Gračanica monastery and the Patriarchate of Peć on the list of world heritage sites, by which their universal value as cultural monuments was recognised. Serbia had prepared their official nomination and created the nomination file prior to the session of the Committee that subsequently decided to include the monuments on the List. One session was enough to approve the inclusion of three monuments on the List because they were nominated as a group. The Monastery of Dečani, incidentally, has been on the List since 2004.
The Patriarchate of Peć, a complex of medieval sacral edifices near the Kosovo town of Peć, next to the Bistrica River at the mouth of the Rugovska Klisura canyon, is one of the most significant monuments of Serbian history.
The monasterial complex includes four churches and a series of other edifices built in the 13th and 14th centuries. The founders of some of the churches were the notable Archbishops Arsenije I, Nikodim I and Danilo II.
Ivo Andrić, the most well known writer of the former Yugoslavia, passed away thirty one years ago, and sixty one years ago published his novel "The Bridge on the River Drina", for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
If we add two re-printed and recently published titles - a book of interviews and Ivo Andrić's doctoral dissertation edited by Prof. Radovan Vučković, a prominent authority on his life and work, we have reason enough to remember this writer, especially following the bloody war in the dark Bosnian town in which his most famous novel was set. After the abyss and civil war that tore the region asunder, it is instructive and restorative to read Andrić, a writer who used prose to build bridges between cultures separated by conflicts, convictions and religions.