Sv. Jovan Bigorski (St. John Bigorski) monastery is dedicated to Sv. Jovan Krstitel (Saint John the Baptist). It is located on the road between Gostivar and Debar, in the beautiful valley of the river Radika among the villages of Rostushe, Velebrdo, Bitushe and Trebishta. The monastery is named Bigorski, because it is made of tufa (tufa in Macedonian is called Bigor).
The monastery complex is comprised of the monastery church, the ossuary located next to the church, the seymen defense tower, the monastery mansions complex, as well as the newly built guest mansion. It is mentioned in the monastery files that the Monarch Jovan started building it in the year of 1020 and when the monastery was attacked by the Turks in the XVIth century, only a small church remained. The rebuilding of the Monastery has been started in 1743 by the jermonarch Ilarion who was the first Igumen at the "Bigorski monastery".
Sv. Jovan Bigorski (St. John Bigorski) is famous for its iconostasis the most beautiful one in our country. It is done in tiny woodcarving by the magical hands of Petre Filipov - Garkata from the village of Gari. Petre Filipov - Garkata, his brother Marko, Makrarij Frckovski from the village of Galicnik and Avram Dicov with his sons Vasil and Filip from the village Osoj, in the period from 1829 to 1835 managed to present an extraordinary art achievement.
The iconostasis is divided into six horizontal belts. The first one's base is comprised of rectangular fields on which there are ornaments of flora and fauna. The second belt, where throne (big and non-movable) icons are placed, finishes with a figure of an eagle with spread wings. The third belt is divided into three smaller horizontal compartments where symmetrically distributed angels, grapes and vineyard sprouts are presented. There are two rows of icons- festive (icons that are being taken out for festivities) and icons with presentation of angels above them . In the central part there is the large cross with the Crucifixion of Christ. From both sides of the cross there are figures of dragon from whose mouth the icons of St. Jovan and Holy Mother of God are lifted. The presentation of the dancer Salome is particularly interesting, she is dressed in a traditional Miyak costume.
The monastery is also famous for the Icon of "Sv. Jovan Krstitel" (St. John the Baptist) which is believed has a mysterious power. The Icon was found by the monarch Jovan in the year of 1020, on the same place where the Monastery was built later on, and it was floating over the river Radika. In the XVIth century, under the Turkish ruler Selim II, Turks burned the Monastery and the Icon mysteriously disappeared and returned later, again un-harmed, to the same place. The Icon of Sv. Jovan Bigorski was not protected for 35 years and finally in the year of 1885 was framed in silver (it is written in the Monastery record files). Jovan Krstitel is represented in the Icon as a three- handed Saint. It is believed that the third hand is blessed, and also helps families who can't have children. There is a story about this legend, and it follows:
A Beg (Bey) from Albania who couldn't have children, came to the monastery in the XVIth century to worship the Icon. Next Year he had a son, and he donated all his property to "Sv. Jovan". He promised that he would send olive oil to the monastery (he was producing olive oil).
The old mansions with the spacious wooden balconies and the dining room furnished with authentic furniture from the time of the construction, late XVIIth and early XlXth century, add to the monastery's ambient.
Today four monks and three novices form the brotherhood of this monastery. Their abbot, archmandrite Parthenius has learnt the basics of the monastic life at the Holy Mount of Athos.
As of recently, the Bigorski monastery houses a beautiful Icon gallery. The gallery currently features 70 out of the 160 planned icons, dating from the XVII, XVIII and XIX century. All of the icons are property of the Monastery.
The gallery is to be updated with the rest of the monastery icons currently being conserved, two priest robes as well as with elements from the old iconostasis (XVII century)