The Archive of Landscapes
Cultural heritage project
Church of St. Anna - Prcanj, Montenegro
Medieval churches like that of St. Anna in Prcanj, dating back to the 14th century, feature small-sized, not sophisticated, elegant proportions, as well as picturesque forms with a very interesting way of integrating into the landscape. In the Middle Ages, the Gothic style was not developed enough here, even though it was too much postponed compared to other urban centres on the Adriatic. However, the local sacral architecture, based upon centuries of development, has incorporated something of the medieval styles expressed mostly into the design of windows and doors. The techniques used at that time of building were very much defined, considering that they were developed by local craftsman rather than by professional architects or builders.
The catholic private family chapels like this one were numerous in the town of Prcanj. In ancient times the town recorded eighteen churches and family chapels, of which today just eight are still standing. The church of St. Anna is believed to be existing here since the 14th century, and the ruins of the parish house in the immediate vicinity are the most ancient remains of residential buildings in the town of Prcanj. The church of St. Anna is situated 100 m from the sea on the hill of Vrmac. It is single span with gable roof; it has a semicircular apse and a fragmented vault in the middle, as well as a bell tower. The church belonged to the Sbutega family and stands in the area that was called, in ancient times, Calme that means “calm, quiet”. In front of the church an ancient graveyard used to lay, whose remains are not evident any longer. Today, the interior of the church has not any frescos or painting and is plastered with blue colour which is much eroded by the passing time. The traditional techniques of Romanesque altar vault, domed with a monolith of perfectly carved white rock, and the stone-paved floor characterized the architecture of the interior of the church. There are also two small niches in the wall at both ends of the altar, and a holy water pot, integrated into the entrance wall, which is a very interesting shape. There is no evidence of when the church was built, but the style of the building techniques, the apse stone roof and the unique disposition suggest that it has been there since the 14th century.
The area where the Sbutega palace and the church of St. Anna are built is of immense importance for the entire region, because it still resembles the traditional way of cultivating the territory, and gives evidence of the features and style of the local 14th-century architecture. Sloped terraces of stone walls with olive groves and forests of oaks are typical of the cultural landscape of this area, which is closely related to this church and which is called, in the local language, Draga Sv. Ane, the Valley of St. Anna.
Today, it would be necessary to identify this sacred building as a target of careful restoration, since it could become a significant and lovely spot along the medieval path of Prcanj, an area of special landscape value among ancient olive groves and oak forests. The tiny church would possibly be used for cultural events, camera concerts, exhibitions, public talks and meeting about the preservation of cultural landscapes, as well as a tourist attraction. Moreover, it is located near the ancient Sbutega palace, dating to the same historic period; the palace itself might be the suitable venue of an Architecture summer school camp, for a restoration of the cultural landscape and rustic architecture of Prcanj; this also would be a perfect location for a conscious and interested public to meet and exchange ideas.
HOW TO CITE THIS ARTICLE:
Kusevic, B. (2017). Church of St. Anna - Prcanj. ‘‘The Archive of Landscapes”.[date].
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection | The Collection; (1693) Disegno Topografico del Canale di Cattaro, Montenegro; Coronelli, Vincenzo (1650-1718).