Only a 15 minute drive from downtown Skopje near the tiny village of Gorno Nerezi high on the forested slopes of Mt. Vodno, the 12th century church of St. Panteleimon offers Macedonia’s capital city such serenity. The church which is one of the oldest and most important in Macedonia was built and painted in 1164 under the patronage of Byzantine Prince Alexios Komnenos whose name is made immortal by being carved in marble, right above the entrance in the church. It was dedicated to St. Panteleimon, the protector of health.
The monastery is most famous for its exceptional fresco paintings which convey dramatic facial expression and emotions not commonly found in Byzantine art. In 1555 the main dome collapsed but within a short time the monastery was renewed and repainted. Fragments of the old frescoes were incorporated into new ones. An example of a combination of a new and an old painting is the fresco portrayal of the Communion of the Apostles. Other well-known fresco themes are the Transfiguration, the Raising of Lazarus, the Birth of the Mother of God, the Presentation of the Mother of God to the Temple, the Entry into Jerusalem and the Descent from the Cross.
The most impressive fresco in St. Panteleimon created under the influence of apocryphal religious literature is the Lamentation of Christ. Art historians consider it a masterpiece as it displays traits associated with renaissance art at a much earlier stage than the blossoming of the Italian Renaissance.