The Church of Saint Sava (Serbian: Храм Светог Саве / Hram Svetog Save, lit. 'The Temple of Saint Sava') is a Serbian Orthodox church which sits on the Vračar plateau in Belgrade, Serbia. It was planned as the bishopric seat and main cathedral of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The church is dedicated to Saint Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church and an important figure in medieval Serbia. It is built on the presumed location of St. Sava's grave. His coffin had been moved from Mileševa Monastery to Belgrade. It was placed on a pyre and burnt in 1595 by Ottoman Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha. Bogdan Nestorović and Aleksandar Deroko were finally chosen to be the architects in 1932 after a second revised competition in 1926/27 (for which no first award was granted, Nestorović being runner up). This sudden decision instigated an important debate in interwar Yugoslavia which centred around the temple's size, design and symbolic national function. This was accompanied by a sizeable increase in the base area of the ambitiously conceived project. The new design departed from the competition guidelines issued in 1926, and was to replicate the dimensions and architecture of Hagia Sophia.The first stone was laid in 1935. When Yugoslavia was under occupation in 1941, the construction was approximately ten metres high. The incomplete building was used as a depot by the German army and Tito's partisans. After the war, the Orthodox Church was unsuccessful in its attempt to secure permission to complete the building. Permission was granted in 1984, and the architect Branko Pešić was commissioned to adapt the project to new construction techniques. On May 12, 1985, a liturgy was held at the temple with 100,000 people in attendance. This marked a turning point in the then-communist country; the church had reinstated its position and the communist elite had to back down from a decade-long ban prohibiting the construction of the church. In June 1989, the concrete dome of the temple, weighing 4,000 tonnes and constructed entirely on the ground, was raised to its present position. This was a landmark achievement in construction.It is the largest Orthodox church in Serbia, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox churches and it ranks among the largest churches in the world. It is the most recognisable building in Belgrade and a landmark, as its dominating dome resembles that of the Hagia Sophia, after which it had been modelled. The church contains a rigorous symmetrical layout with a great sensitivity to light due to its large dome and four apses. Its interior cladding with 12,000 m2 (130,000 sq ft) of gold mosaics is almost complete. The mosaics are a donation of the Russian Federation. This was assured by the Russian president Vladimir Putin for which Gazprom Neft donated 2016 the initial decoration of the dome. The mosaics have been designed by the artist Nikolay Aleksandrovich Mukhin from the Russian Academy of Arts of the Imperial Academy of Arts under supervision of its director Zurab Tsereteli. The first mosaic of the dome was finished on 13 December 2017, for which Sergey Lavrov was presented at an official act of state at the church on 22 February 2018. Vladimir Putin visited the church on 17 January. 2019, when he announced that the Russian state will finance remaining works in the mosaic cladding. He symbolically laid a stone in a mosaic with the presentation of the Mandylion. The planned completion of the artistic work is scheduled for 2020, for which Vladimir Putin has been officially invited. After the Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque in July 2020 the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej and the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić on 20 August 2020 expressed their wish, that the Saint Sava Church might indirectly replace the Hagia Sophia after it was modelled, and become a ″New Hagia Sophia″.
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