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The Church of St. Ilija in Krupa na Vrbasu


The Church of St. is located on motorway E661 from Banja Luka to Jajce and Mrkonjić Grad. The church is located on necropolis with stećci, among which the two are decorated with crosses, rosettes and a crescent moon carved in high relief. Above the church, on the rock above the canyon of the Vrbas River, there are the remains of the medieval fortress of the town of Greben.

Greben was mentioned in the sources from the late 12th century, and it is possible that the place of worship was also built then. In 15th century, feudal lords from Vojsalić family, the heirs of Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, were responsible for the renovation of the monastery under the town of Greben. The monastery was abandoned 1527-1528, when the town of Jajce and Greben fell under the Ottoman rule. An anonymous Austrian spy wrote between 1718-1739 that there was an abandoned Orthodox monastery next to the creek of the same name and the village of Krupa. The church of St.

Ilija in Krpa na Vrbasu was recovered in 1889 by Metropolitan bishop Sava Kosanović who, when describing the church, said that its walls were preserved to two-metre tall walls and narrow windows with stone frames. “Thresholds of western and southern doors, as well as an inscribed plate from the church” said Kosanović “were taken by the Turks and used when building a mosque.” Along the northern side of the church, according to the Metropolitan's description, was erected a spacious dining room with arched windows and stone cornice. The door connected the church with the dining room, and there were basement and three other buildings south of it. The Church was recovered in 1889 and the tower was added onto the building. Ustashas burned the church in 1889.

The recently renovated church of St. Ilija in Krupa on Vrbas is a single-nave basilica with a semicircular apse. The altar got this shape during the renovation in 1889. Archaeological excavations discovered the traces of an older rectangular shaped sanctuary. A large number of graves without any additions, whose position indicates the possibility that the cemetery is older than the church.

Two brick tombs are on the remains of rectangular shaped altar. Along the northern side of the church, there are the basis of the complex of facilities – shelters and outbuildings. There is no facade decoration on the church, built with crushed stone and covered with flat roof-beam, but archaeological researched revealed the fragments of the pointed arch, probably from the apse window studded with ornament “diamond lines” along with several fragments of well-defined door and window jambs, architrave or arch resolved.

In the land next to the church, the fragments of painted plaster were found, which are older than 1527-1528 when this temple was abandoned, and are supposed to be younger than 1447, when, according to the written sources, the restoration of the church in Greben was done. A small number of colours was used – blue, ochre and red. Fragments are small, with the engraved outline of geometrical ornaments, and with an eye painted on one fragment. The church of St. Ilija in Krupa na Vrbasu is just one of the motives that you can visit in this beautiful place, situated between two gorges of the Vrbas River.