The Hilandar Monastery is a Serbian monastery on Mount Athos, located near Esphigmenou, 2 km inland from the northeastern coast of the peninsula. Originally a Greek foundation, Hilandar may have been established in the late 10th century by George Chelandarios ("the Boat-man"); by tots it was deserted and had been handed over to the Kostamonitou Monastery. The plan of the main church and possibly its opus sectile floor date from the monastery's foundation, as do portions of the eastern enclosure wall and a large area to the southeast, imiuding the Tower of St. George.
In 1198-99 the monastery was restored as a Serbian koinobion by Stefan Nemanja (died 1199), who took the monastic name Symeon, and by his son Sava, who composed in 1199 a typikon based on the rule of the Evergetis Monastery in Constantinople. They constructed a new church and added a refectory, which was later partly rebuilt. By the early 13th century Hilandar was inhabited by 90 monks. A chapel in an upper story of the Tower of St. George contains wall paintings dated to the mid-13th century. The next great benefactor of Hilandar was Stefan Uroš II Milutin, who in 1303 replaced the late 12th-century katholikon with a new triconch church with narthex and also restored the refectory. He strengthened the monastery’s fortifications and added a tower at the harbor. Originally endowed by Nemanja with 15 Serbian villages, Hilandar became very wealthy and, by the mid-14th century, owned one-fifth of the Athos peninsula, plus lands from Macedonia (especially Strymon and Chalkidike regions) to Serbia, 360 villages or parts of villages in all. At this time it held fourth place in the Athonite hierarchy. Hilandar was completely independent of the authority of both the Protos and Byzantine emperor. The hegoumenoi of Hilandar frequently became archbishops of Serbia.
Hilandar became an important Serbian Orthodox religious and cultural center: the Serbian writers Domentian, Teodosije, and Danilo were all monks of Hilandar. It was also a treasurehouse of Serbian art. It contains an important collection of icons, notably a mosaic icon of the Hodegetria that could date to the end of the 12th century. It has been argued that in the 14th century Hilandar was a center of icon production, and dated the Čin (an icon row from the church's templon) to around 1360, seeing there the same hand that painted a Gospel book in the monastery's library. The Serbian variant of Old Church Slavonic developed at the monastery, which housed a scriptorium, a center for translation, and bilingual library. Most of the approximately 1200 manuscripts preserved at Hilandar are in Slavic; especially notable are the numerous illuminated manuscripts of the 13th century. The archives, which include 172 Greek and 154 Serbian documents from the medieval period, provide information on the structure of the countryside, pronoia, taxation, and the economic inequality of the peasants.
Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium