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Biskupija Crkvina

Biskupija Crkvina was one of the most significant centres of the medieval Croatian state spanning the 9th and 11th centuries. Nowadays it is a village with still visible remains of the Basilica of the Virgin Mary, a part of the archaeological and architectural complex.

  • AD 1050 – Modern Era

AD 1050 – Modern Era

Development of the site

Biskupija/Kosovo lost its importance after the entering of the Croatian Kingdom into the union with Hungary. The Church of St Mary and the bishop’s residence were deserted in 14th century. The new Church of St Luke was built above the ruins of the nave of the old St Mary’s and a late medieval graveyard of the 12th to the 15th centuries developed around it on the remains of the walls of the earlier architecture. Finds of luxurious earrings and rings made in high filigree and granulation and the graves are covered with stelae witness of a wealth of the former inhabitants.23

The whole area came under the authority of the Ottoman Empire in 1522. The early medieval settlement of Kosovo appears under the name of Biskupija in 1550 for the first time. During this period, the region was completely depopulated and Biskupija was cited as mezra (uninhabited or sparsely populated area).24

After 1688 the Republic of Venice took over Knin with its surroundings and a new population arrived in Biskupija – mostly Orthodox Christians from Bosnia. In the late 18th or the early 19th centuries the still serving Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity was erected on the site of one of the early medieval churches in Biskupija. In the late 1930’s a new Church of St Mary was built on the site of Crkvina next to the medieval ruins. The new church was designed by Ivan Meštrović, one of Croatia’s most famous sculptors. It serves as the parish church for the Roman Catholic population in Biskupija along with the cemetery in front of the church. Fig. 21

Fig. 21: Site of Crkvina today with the Roman catholic parish Church of St Mary built in 1930’s after design of Ivan Meštrović. Credit: Z. Alajbeg

Fig. 21: Site of Crkvina today with the Roman catholic parish Church of St Mary built in 1930’s after design of Ivan Meštrović. Credit: Z. Alajbeg

After the declaration of Croatian independence in 1991 the nearby town of Knin became the center of uprising for the Serbian population and the Croatian population was driven from Biskupija. The whole of Kosovo and Biskupija lay within an occupied zone caught in a war. During the military operation Oluja (the Storm) in 1995 the Serbs fled to Serbia, and displaced Croats returned to Biskupija; there also came several families of Croatian refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Serbs began to return after 2000.


23 Delonga, Vedrana, The Latin Epigraphic Monuments of Early Mediaeval Croatia, Split, 1996

24 Opširni popis Kliškog sandžaka iz 1550. godine (obradili: F. Dž. Spaho, Ahmed S. Aličić, priredila B. Zlatar), Sarajevo, 2007

Continue to: Modern Era – Today

Development of the site

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