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  • Monastery of Holy Transfiguration
  • Zrze
  • North Macedonia
  • Dolneni



  • The Italian Database is the result of a collaboration between:

    MIBAC (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale per i Beni Archeologici),

    ICCD (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione) and

    AIAC (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica).

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Summary (English)

  • The cultural complex dedicated to the Transfiguration of Jesus is situated 35 km northwest of Prilep, west of the Zrze village. In the middle of this micro – region there is a massive travertine rock, upon which a medieval monastic complex was built, with a church dedicated to the Transfiguration.

    The systematic archaeological excavations in 2008 – 2009 included the southern, eastern and northern slope of the travertine rock, as well as sections of the upper plateau of the rock. During these excavations, the remains of a medieval monastic settlement were discovered, when 48 functional units were recorded with certainty, named as Hermitage Cell, Silence Cell, Workshops, Communication Platforms etc., as well as remnants of 17 other structures.

    The segments of the medieval monastic settlement are distributed over seven levels, whereas based on the stratigraphic analyses and functional realisations, three basic phases of existence have been identified.

    The first phase comprises thirteen functional clusters, mainly hermitage cells, distributed along the upper sections of the southern, eastern and northern slope of the travertine rock. It should be noted that these units were constituted from the natural recesses in the travertine rock (caves), the horizontal platforms created after the exploitation of the travertine in 3 – 4 century AD, as well as the levelled surfaces of the late antique ruins. The chronological signpost of this phase to the period between the late 9th and the last decades of the 11th century is confirmed with certainty by the significant number of sherds whose analogies can be found largely among the finds from the central regions of the Balkan Peninsula.

    The second phase comprises ten functional units, as well as the remains of five other structures assigned to the second phase, dated to the period from the early 12th to the first decades of the 14th century. Among these structures are the southern cave church, four hermitage cells with a clearly demarcated living space and a segment for handwork, and five silence cells on a raised level inside the rock. Particularly significant for this phase is the establishment of the central cave church complex, which, in addition to the church, comprises the exo-narthex, three silence cells on a raised level and a Paraclesion. The use of carefully crafted stone tiles is a typical building method of this phase.

    The dating of the third phase coincides with the initial phase of the existence of the monastery church, built on the upper plateau of the travertine rock. The phase is characterised by the continuous existence of the previously established hermitage cells, silence cells and communication platforms. Moreover, a process of modernisation of the technical and technological procedures of labour can be noticed within the working sections of the silence cells, with clearly identified furnaces, fireplaces, worktops, among others. According to the typological-chronological characteristics of the finds (ceramic vessels, coins, frescos, tools, tiles, tegulae etc.) this phase dates to the period between the third decade of the 14th century and the last decades of the 15th century. In this period the monastic settlement from the slopes of the rock was abandoned and the contents were relocated to the area of the upper plateau of the travertine rock.

  • Branislav Ristevski - Institute for Old Slavonic Culture 



Research Body

  • Institute for Old Slavonic Culture

Funding Body

  • Government of the Republic of Macedonia


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