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Church St. George - Gorni Kozjak, Stip

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The medieval church of St.George has been raised at the location where, according to some scientific assumptions, the settlement called Kozjak previously existed, around ten kilometers south-east of the city of Stip, at the locality of Gorni Kozjak and near to the archeological locality of Bargala.  

There are different theories and assumptions about the time of its construction. Some claim that it was built in the period of the 11th-12th century, but many scientists place it in the period of the 9th-10th century, i.e. at the time of christening of Slovenes along the valley of river Bregalnica.

The church is built using chipped river rocks, with slaked lime mortar and with many late-antique decorations from Bargala. It has a base of an encrypted cross with a dome of an octagonal drum. Its narthex has a stone cross vault, connected to the naos through the triforium. There is one large biphora on both the north and south side.

The research shows that during the 14th century the church was renovated, whereas at the south side of the narthex a chapel of a square base and half-rounded drum has been additionally built, the upper parts of the biphores have been closed and the church has been decorated and fresco-painted for the third time in a row.

From the original layer of fresco-art at the two half-rounded arcs, only the southern one has a fresco fragment that still remains and it represents a visage of a saint.

The second layer of fresco-art dates from the third quarter of the 13th century, the time of origin of the old fresco painting on the northwest pilaster, a representation of Jesus Christ Antiphon, of an archaic appearance.

The third layer of fresco-art dates from the 14th century, and according to the differences in styling characteristics and its art qualities, the assumptions are that at least four fresco artist are responsible for its creation. The most successful artists are considered those, who have painted the compositions at the northern and southern wall, as well as the author of the composition located south of the entrance door, on the western wall, that shows the unknown founder (restaurateur) of the church, his wife and son, their whole figures, facing the on-lookers in a praying pose.

Inside the church, there is a grave, and nobody knows its origins, whether it existed even before the church was actually raised, or maybe somebody has been buried on purpose in its interior. Also, around the church a necropolis has been discovered with grave potholes and stone grave constructions where burials have been conducted in the period from the 7th century to the second decade of the 20th century.

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