The ecumenical Sanctuary of Holy Filermosa, Cetinje - Montenegro

Cetinje - Montenegro
Government of Montenegro
Sanctuary, public spaces, consolidation of existing natural caves
6 000 SQM
2012 - Competition / First Prize

Appearance - Disappearance : A project for a new spiritual architecture



The project of the new Cetinje Sanctuary is the ending point of a long journey.


The Filermosa Shrine is a fundamental historical and spiritual heritage for Montenegro.

Cetinje, the cultural capital of the Country, is the ending point of a long journey done by the Holy Icon along the history: It is the mythic site designated to reveal its message to Europe and the world.


The precious Filermosa Holy Shrine is one of the most important religious symbol for Catholic and Orthodox Christendom. The Holy Shrine and future pilgrims come by far to show and amplify the sense of spirituality and their faith.


The Filermosa Icon is the existent oldest hand-painted Sacred Icon.

The legend said that St. Lucas painted himself the Icon.

The Icon is a main spiritual and devotional symbol for the Sovereign Order of the Malta Knights, since the foundation of the Order.

Tito moved the Filermosa into the Cetinje Museum of Arts, showed as a laic Masterpiece.


The idea of the Government of Montenegro is to build a new space especially dedicated to the exhibition, the adoration and the contemplation of the Filermosa.

Malta Knights Order is also strongly implicated in the project.


The site chosen for the project is set on a high ground behind the Monastery of Cetinje, with a spectacular view trough the surrounding mountains. The two locations are interconnected by natural caves.


Our approach for the project was deeply inspirited by the landscape and its typical stone, which is giving the proper name to the Country.

The architecture of the new exhibition hall wants to be an inclusion into the iconic landscape of Cetinje, looking for an expression at the limit between human and nature,

The main chamber of the new Sanctuary is conceived as the amplification of the natural volumes in the interior of the existing cave.

The volume of the chamber is 12 meter high, prolonging the ceiling to catch any zenithal light at the top. The interior surface is finish by the same stone removed during the excavation works.


A scenographic installation emphasize the spectacular high of the space, tracing the perspective conducing to the Holy Shrine: a forest of brass tubes fixe the light coming down from the ceiling, giving to visitors the illusion of the apparition of the Holy Shrine.


Past, present and future meet themselves in this proposition for the new sanctuary of Cetinje: The testimony becomes the promise and the visible sign of Faith and of the architecture of the city.