Church of the Annunciation, Szentendre
The Church of the Annunciation is located in the centre of Szentendre, in the immediate vicinity of the Serbian Church Museum. Even on account of its unique position, it is outstanding among the other Serbian churches in the sense that it does not have an ordinary church entrance, but one enters it directly from the public square or – on the south side – from the neighbouring street.
The original Church of the Annunciation was built immediately after the 1690 Great Exodus of the Serbs by the monks of the Monastery of Krušedol, who had brought the relics of the saintly members of the Branković Dynasty with them. At that time, the church was constructed from wood and would serve as a church over a monastery crypt as long as until the late 17th century, when the monks returned to the Monastery of Krušedol with the relics of the saints of the Branković family.
The first major iconostasis of this church was painted by anonymous Serbian itinerant icon painters in 1721. Individual pieces from the iconostasis survive to this day, and, on the basis of the inscriptions on the icons, it may be ascertained that the donators were Ćira Marković, Nikola Ćirić, Josif Jorgović, Jovan Vesković and Petar Šerić, respectable citizens of Szentendre, owning shops at the square where the church itself was located.
The present Church of the Annunciation was built on the site of the original wooden building between 1752 and 1754. Presumably, the construction plans of the church were drawn by the well-known Pest architect, András Mayerhoffer. On the west side of the church, the lavishly formed main entrance, with its stone-carved ornaments leaning towards the meticulousness and lightness of the Rococo, is distinctive. The church interior is divided into four sections, one belonging to the choir and another forming part of the apsed sanctuary. On the vaults, the painted cartouches created during the second half of the 18th century are also noticeable. The church also contains the tomb of the prominent Szentendre family, the Ćirićes, while the gravestone of the Greek Dimitros Tologiannis, a merchant from Vác, is found next to the south entrance. The Greek epitaph at the entrance also seems to reinforce the popular name of the church: ‘Greek Church’.
The iconostasis of the Church of the Annunciation was painted from 1802 to 1804 by Mihailo Živković, a native of Buda, who had studied painting at the Arts Academy of Vienna. His professors included Johann Henri Fieger, a distinguished representative of the classicist style. Requested to paint the iconostasis of the Church of the Annunciation upon his return from Vienna, Živković was particularly thoughtful to adapt and modify the stylistic elements of the late-baroque and classicist idiom in accordance with the requirements of an Orthodox church, most evidently in the icon of the bishop’s throne. Thus, for example, in contrast with the dynamic and vigorous movements of the Apostles in the upper section of the iconostasis, the images of Jesus Christ and of the Theotokos in the Sovereign Tier produce a slightly more static and placid effect. At the same time, the iconographic structure of the icon screen was created in line with the fundamental teachings of the Orthodox Church; its plinths feature a depiction of the Theotokos as the Life-Giving Spring, as well as the scene when Christ encounters the Samaritan woman, in a way defining the vertical basic structure of the iconostasis.
In the church, certain pieces from the former iconostasis of the Serbian church of Balassagyarmat, also painted by Mihailo Živković in 1815, are on display as well.