Levisha Church (Saint Friday Church) (Prizren)

The Saint Friday Church, located in the Historical Centre of PRizren, was reconstructed according to the orders of King Milutin, in 1306-1307. Renovation works were lead by known masters of that time, Nikola and Astrapa, who enriched the church with a specifically endowed architectonic and artistic expression, by combining Byzantine and Raska styles. For the age of the church, scholars almost fully agree that this church was built over an older temple. It is assumed that the foundations of a Paleo-Christian church of the first era (5-6 Century), and later of a Byzantine Basilica (9th Century) were laid over a pagan temple (BC), built as tribute to the Illyrian Goddess of fertility and birth: Prema, or Premta (Friday in English). Upon reconstruction of the church by King Milutin, the Serbs continued to use the former name of the church, but adapted from Saint Premt to Sveti Petak, while the name Sveta Bogorodica Leviska (St. Mother of God Leviska) is connected to the Lumbardh river, because the Church is built in its left side.

Upon the invasion of Prizren by the Ottoman Empire, in the period 1455-1459, and its transformation into a mosque, it was called the Cuma Cami (Xhuma Xhami), used by the people to this day. The new temple was built upon the cross layout. Based on the construction technique, it may be assumed that the church pertains to the Late Byzantine style. Initially, it had three naves, while during the reconstruction in 1306-1307, two more cupola were added, thereby creating five naves. At that time, the western side was added an exonarthex, together with the bell tower. Internal walls of the church are rather rich in frescoes. The first layer of frescoes pertains to the Byzantine Medieval period, where double-headed eagles prevail. Later layers are dominated by Biblical compositions, and personalities of the Nemanjic dynasty. In history, in its transformation from a church into a mosque, the church suffered several changes, including the plastering of internal walls, closure of several window openings, the removal of the absyda, the construction of a minaret over the bell tower, etc. During the First Balkan War in 1912, the mosque was remade into a church. Its minaret was torn down on 05.06.1923. In 1948, the church was put under legal protection, by decision no. 352. During the period 1950-1952, the whole construction and frescoes were restored and conserved. At that time, archaeological surveys were made in the facility itself and its yard.

After these interventions, the facility was transformed into a museum. During the 70-es and 80-es, a new restoration/conservation process took place in the facility and mural frescoes. The facility was caught in fire, including its interior and roofing, in 2004. During the years 2005-2008, the church was under restoration by the Commission for Implementation of Reconstruction for Serbian Orthodox Church monuments in Kosovo. This church is the only monument registered in the UNESCO List of Endangered World Heritage in 2006.