The church of St. Panteleimon is located in the village of GornoNerezi on the mountain of Vodno. This is a favorite place for excursions of the citizens of Skopje as it has a wonderful panoramic view at the capitol of Macedonia.
This church from the 12th century is situated in a monastery complex. In the inscription over the main portal is written that the church and the monastery were built by the order of Alexius Angelus Comnenus, and all this was devoted to St.Panteleimon, the patron of the physicians. This was a period when the stability in the Byzantine Empire was falling. Though the enemies were attacking the empire, the empire was still rich enough to engage exquisite artists and construct costly buildings. The frescoes of this church are close to the standards of the renaissance paintings.
Namely Giorgio Vasari (born in Arezzo, Tuscany in 1511) by many called “the first art historian” was the first one to use the term renaissance; he wrote thatGiotto di Bondonewas the first one that devised the modern painting in which the figures were not static and artificial as in the traditional Byzantine paintings, but lively and inspired by the classical arts. However the British art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon claims that the fresco “The Lamentation of Christ” (created under the influence of the apocryphal religious literature) in the church of St. Panteleimon with its expression of emotion, realism and its representation of suffering in 1164 precedes the Giotto frescoes from the Arena Chapel in Padua from 1305.
This small church that was built from rectangular stones and brick, with layers of mortar- suffered from the earthquake in1555after what it was restored.The frescoes were repainted again in 1885 with quality that was much lower than that of the authenticfrescoes, a part of which was restored in the 1923. The whole interior of this church is covered with frescoes some of which are the best examples of the Comnenian Age of the Byzantine art, and as already mentioned in this text many art historians argue that this are the first signs of the European renaissance painting.
Placed in the serene environment and nature on the mountain of Vodno the monastery complex of the church of “St. Panteleimon” is an attractive destination not just for art historians but for art fans and tourists as well. The other interesting thing is that thechurch’s stucco decoration is depicted on the obverse of the Macedonian 50 denars banknote.
by Igor Pop Trajkov