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8 reasons to visit Novi Sad

The city is stretched from the plain of quiet Backa, across the waters of the violent Danube, to the hilly slopes of Fruška gora in Srem. Young, yet rich in cultural heritage and uncommon old-fashioned splendor. The fastest way to reach it from Belgrade is via the European road E-75, but we choose a slightly longer, but more interesting and pleasant route through Fruška gora and Sremska Kamenica and across the Freedom bridge we enter the Vojvodina capital.

Why visit Novi Sad?

1. Because Novi Sad is serbian Athens

It was first mentioned in 1694, two years after the beginning of the construction of the Petrovaradin Fortress, when, opposite the fortress, a settlement of soldiers, craftsmen and merchants was formed on the left bank of the Danube, named Racko (Serbian) village, later Petrovaradin Šanac. It obtained the status of a free royal city under the name of Novi Sad due to a cash purchase from the Empress Maria Theresa in 1748. It was destroyed during the Revolution of 1848/49, but it is being rebuilt by its faithful inhabitants. Soon it experienced a cultural boom and was nicknamed Serbian Athens, thus comparing it to Greece’s Athens, the cultural and scientific centre of the ancient world. It was attached to Serbia, namely the then Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, after the end of the Great War, while after the Second World War, it was rapidly growing and developing in all directions.

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8 reasons to visit Novi Sad

Since it was established, it has fostered cultural and religious diversity and paid attention to spiritual and cultural life. Churches, schools and gymnasiums, reading rooms, and theatres were built. The undisputed cultural seal was given to it by Matica Srpska, which moved to it from Budapest in 1864, where it was founded about forty years earlier. Nowadays it is also proud of the Library and Gallery of the Matica Srpska, the Museum of Vojvodina, the Museum of the City of Novi Sad, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina, and the Memorial Collection of Pavle Beljanski. At the beginning of the 20th century, science also got involved into its culture, when Mileva Marić and her more famous husband Albert Einstein lived there.

It has grown into a modern, receptive city of wide boulevards, magnificent antique and modern buildings and a variety of offers. It is known for Štrand, the most beautiful beach on the Danube, market called Futoška pijaca, sports facilities and weekend resorts Fishing Island and Kamenjar with inns (“čarde”) and accommodation facilities. There are many wineries and isolated farms (“salaš”) in the area.

Serbian Athens, no doubt. It was recognized by the finicky Europe, proclaiming it as its cultural capital in 2022. It’ll be worthy of the title, we’re sure.

2. Because the heart of the city cherishes the ancient spirit

Time seems to have stopped at the central Freedom square. With its beauty, size and colorful tower, higher than 70 meters, the Roman Catholic Church named after Mary imposes itself. Across the street is the City Hall, a magnificent building erected in the late 19th century, which is a monument of culture of exceptional importance. In between is a monumental monument dedicated to Svetozar Miletic, one of the most influential politicians of the 19th century and the former mayor, is the work of Ivan Meštrović. The building of the headquarters of Vojvodina Bank is strutting sideways, and across the street is the Hotel Vojvodina and further Tanurdzic’s palace from the 1930s, simple, without decorative elements, which differs a bit from the luxurious surroundings.

3. Because the city center is a fairytale labyrinth

Zmaj Jovina Street continues from the square. Wide, lifelike, full of decorated gardens and side alleys. We get to the monument of Čika Jova Zmaj in front of the Vladičanski dvor of the Eparchy of Bačka of the Serbian Orthodox Church, a striking building in an eclectic style, with strong decorative elements. We continue towards the Dunavska Street, one of the oldest streets of Novi Sad. Rather narrow, with compacted one-story houses and a network of passageways where shops, restaurants, workshops are hidden… so you could wander through them for hours. In the street one could see the City Library, which overlooks the oldest house, erected in the first decades of the 18th century, the house where Svetozar Miletić lived, the Collection of foreign art, and further museum objects.

There are several other buildings that must not be missed – the Novi Sad Synagogue, one of the largest in the region, with the buildings of the Jewish School and the Jewish Municipality, a beautiful Art Nouveau-style complex, the building of the Central Credit Institute, rich decorations from the end of the 19th century, the most important Orthodox church in the city, the Assembly Church of St. George, and the building of the Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj Gymnasium, in the spirit of eclecticism.

There are several other buildings that must not be missed – the Novi Sad Synagogue, one of the largest in the region, with the buildings of the Jewish School and the Jewish Municipality, a beautiful Art Nouveau-style complex, the building of the Central Credit Institute, rich decorations from the end of the 19th century, the most important Orthodox church in the city, the Assembly Church of St. George, and the building of the Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj Gymnasium, in the spirit of eclecticism.

4. Because the Danube park is a monument to nature

It’s known as the prettiest, but it’s small. It is located at the end of the first part of the Dunavska Street. It is adorned with a sculpture of Nymph, a monument to the poet and painter Đura Jakšić and the busts of poets Branko Radičević and Mika Antić, as well as an artificial pond with several ducks. They’ve got a little house on the island to snuggle in. The flora is very diverse – birches, silver linden trees, wild chestnuts, cypresses… There could be more green areas in the centre, but there are some nearby that are worth a visit – Limanski and Futoški parks as well as Kamenički park on the right bank of the Danube, in Srem.

5. Because the legacy of Čika Jova Zmaj is not just a book

It is dedicated to one of the most significant Serbian romantics and lyricists, Jovan Jovanović. It is widely known as Zmaj (the Dragon). Neither from Nightfall, nor from Avala. Only Zmaj. He earned it with his omission. As he was a great advocate of Serbian unification, in addition to his name, he wrote down the date of the extremely important May Assembly for Vojvodina – 3 May 1848. Once, probably in a hurry, he omitted the dot after number 3 and that’s how he was named Змај (Zmaj in Cyrillic). He liked the nickname so much that he later launched a satirical magazine of the same name. For the kids, he is Uncle Jova. He was the first of all Serbian poets to give a treasure trove of verses just to them.

The museum is located in Sremska Kamenica, on the right bank of the Danube, not far from Novi Sad. It is situated in a family house, a summer house where the poet spent the last years of his life. As he taught the little ones through the rhymes, he himself found a convenient place in his backyard and planted two pears. One still bears fruits.

The permanent exhibition, organized in five rooms, consists of personal items, documents, books, private notes and correspondence, works published after the poet’s death, paintings, editions of magazines and newspapers printed by him – the Zmaj, Starmali and Neven, and medical instruments. He was a doctor by profession. His Physician’s Announcement from 1870 is also exhibited, in which he points out that he receives the richest and the poorest in the same hours and that he approaches everyone with “the same readiness” regardless of the “reward”. A doctor must be like that. And he was drawing. A true artistic soul. Mostly friends and acquaintances. But also the first Serbian comic book. Some of the drawings are exhibited.

He passed away and was buried in Kamenica. According to unofficial data, about 15,000 people attended his funeral.

The museum was founded in 1933 on the occasion of the centenary of the poet’s birth. Nowadays, it is part of the Museum of the City of Novi Sad. Interesting, romantic setting.

6. Because quay by the Danube is a walkway for pleasure

Ah, the Danube. It unselfishly bestows special beauty on the cities that have been fortunate enough to grow on its banks. It can do harm sometimes, but it’s always forgiven. Novi Sad knew how to use its Danube gift. In addition to hiking and biking lanes, you can play on the sports fields for futsal, basketball and tennis, go bowling, and work out in the outdoor gyms. There is also a monument to the victims of the Raid, in memory of several thousands of Serbs, Jews and Roma that were shot at the end of January 1942. It is represented by a bronze composition of Family and 78 bronze plates with information about the crime and the names of the victims.

It has not yet been determined whether it is harder to cross or bridge the Danube. Novi Sad managed to get three bridges built, but they were all ruthlessly demolished in the 1999 NATO bombing. But new ones were built. All three of them. To make the Danube landscape even more miraculous. In the waters remained the pillars of the bridge of Francis Joseph, only to witness the turbulent past.

7. Because Petrovaradin is Gibraltar on the Danube

Thus the people of Novi Sad glorify their fortress. No wonder, because they owe its origin and rise to it. On the way to the Petrovaradin Fortress, we pass through the Belgrade Gate. The Serbian army marched there, bringing freedom to Vojvodina in the First World War. From the gate, you can see a fairytale village. A suburb, or Suburbium. It was built when the fortress was built, from 1692 to 1780. “Đava” (a nickname for Tvrđava, meaning Fortress), as the people of Novi Sad call it, is among the best preserved bastions in this part of Europe, with an excellent geostrategic position. Rather large, it covers more than 100 hectares, bordered by ramparts more than five kilometres long. The main meeting point is a plateau, with a view of the Danube and the part of the city on the side of Bačka, where one of the symbols of the city rises, a tower with a clock, although inaccurate. A fence chained to hundreds of locks of lovers who have locked their love right here. Among the preserved objects are the Officers’ Pavilion, Leopold’s Gunpowder Plant, Arsenal, Long and Simple Barracks, and the Great War Well.

Within the fortress are Hotel Leopold I, the department of the Museum of the City of Novi Sad, art galleries, workshops, shops, and cafes.

The unique attractions are underground military galleries on four levels, a network of communication-defence corridors 16 kilometres long, from which only a kilometre with arsenals and mine systems is available for visitors. As the fortress was never conquered, the members of the Habsburg monarchy kept their valuables.

Within the walls, there is also EXIT music festival, which has become one of the largest and most visited on the European soil. Every July, young people from all over the world flock to Đava, either for the outstanding performers, or for the environment. A musical event can hardly be held anywhere else in a cultural and historical whole of great importance. Đava will endure, we hope.

8. Because it is true that at the Petrol station Novi Sad 16 you can also eat well

Although a long time ago Balašević sang from Novi Sad that “once upon a time one could eat so good meals”! and even today, in Serbian Athens, one could eat divine meals! However, we chose our meal on the way out of Novi Sad, on the way back to Belgrade. We stopped at Gazprom petrol station Novi Sad 16, which broadly illuminates the highway and decided to go for Drive Cafe burgers.

We can say that good food was also served at the petrol station, and rightly so! Juicy, freshly baked, rich food and just right for the journey.

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8 reasons to visit Kragujevac

We have set off to the heart of Šumadija, to the city on the banks of the Lepenica that once was the capital. Niš-bound highway, fast and comfortable, takes us to Kragujevac.

Why visit Kragujevac and Šumarice park?

1. Because Kragujevac was the head of Serbia

Traces of life in the area of today’s Kragujevac take us back in time. It was added to the Serbian state by Stefan Nemanja in XII century. It was first mentioned as a significant settlement in Turkish writings in 1476 as Kragujevdža. It is believed to be named after the bird “kraguj”, a predator akin to eagle that was used for hunting during the Middle Ages and that found a suitable habitat in the Lepenički forest. The bird adorns the city’s coat of arms to this day.

Kragujevac became Serbia’s capital in 1818 and started to prosper with acquisition of autonomy in 1830. In many aspects it was in the lead. The first theatre, Princely Serbian Theatre, with Joakim Vujić at the helm, was opened in 1835, even though the performances had been held a decade earlier. Today’s tiny building was built in 1928. The Belgrade University has its roots in Kragujevac, too, where a Lyceum, university’s forerunner, was founded in 1838. It also boasts the first gymnasium on the territory of then Serbia, even today a magnificent building. In front, towards the Đački Trg and the monument of Vuk Karadžić, a magnificent view, at the back, towards the Palace complex, a picture of woe. Scratched walls, truncated facade, scattered garbage. It does not suit future academics at all. The first military musical band, Princely Serbian Band, was founded in Kragujevac. It performed marches, folk and appropriate songs. It developed till it ceased to exist in 1841 leaving the title to Belgrade. However, during the Great War it was Serbia’s seat. It was home to the Supreme Command. This is where the victorious plans for the battles of Cer and Kolubara were born. It is no wonder since a native of Kragujevac, Marshal Radomir Putnik, a great warrior and leader, was at the helm of the army.

Other famous landmarks include the Cathedral, the first built in the Byzantine-Roman style in the liberated Serbia, the magnificent St. Sava Church, the Assumption monument in honor of fellow citizens fallen in recent wars and the monument to Marshal Putnik.

2. Because it was the seat of Milos the Great

Besides cultural and administrative buildings, he also had a palace complex built. It is now a part of the Kragujevac National Museum, with the central exhibition located in the Mikhail’s residence. Excavations of the Vinča and Starčevo culture found in central Serbia, reconstructed houses, fabric matrices, jeweler, terms. Bone tools are on display.

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8 reasons to visit Kragujevac

The most beautiful building within the complex is Amidžin, also known as Momački konak dating back to 1818 built in a typical Balkan-Oriental style. It has an interesting warrior setting – the first flintlock rifles, holsters, scythes, sabers, original documents in Turkish, records of the Constitution of Sretenje and Serbia’s then-flag. It doesn’t look a lot like the modern one. Ljubiča konak, or Šarena konak, where Milan and Mihailo Obrenović were born burned down in a fire at the end of XIX century. It’s a meadow now. The prince’s residence was destroyed in a bombarding in 1941 and no one bothered to have it re-built. But there is a Miloš bust as a memory that he once ruled there.

3. Because the Sretenje constitution was declared in Kragujevac

On the other bank from the Lepenica, opposite the Palace complex, an Old Church was built in the first days of the reign of Miloš who received the permission to build it provided its height did not exceed the surrounding mosques. The Church is historically invaluable. The parliamentary life of the newly liberated Serbia began in the port. Until the construction of the Assembly building, parliamentary sessions were held in the open air and the common folk could be present. They always started with a liturgy. The first Serbian Constitution, the Sretenje Constitution, was signed there on 15 February 1835. It was one of the most democratic supreme legal acts. It seemed too democratic for the great powers and was suspended under their pressure 55 days later. Written by Dimitrije Davidović, it is considered one of the most valuable legal acts of the new century.

Many crucial decisions for the country and its people were adopted in the Old Assembly. The war on Turkey was declared there in 1876 and decisions of the Berlin Congress were read according to which Serbia gained complete independence. It is a part of the National museum today. This beautiful and interesting setting can teach a lot about an important period of Serbia’s past.

It is, perhaps, the most beautiful part of Kragujevac we have visited. Neat, tidy, spiritual and historically priceless.

4. Because the “Old foundry” museum is a weapon arsenal

The first neighbor of the Old Church and the Assembly is a once-powerful Zastava complex. Today many buildings are neglected and abandoned. The truth is they were destroyed during the NATO bombing. Kragujevac has a long tradition of weapons. As early as in 1836, there was an Arsenal for small arms repair that quickly grew into the military equipment factory. In the middle of XIX century, Topolivnica (Old firearms factory) moved to Kragujevac from Belgrade. Those were turbulent times and having your own weapons was important.

The Old Foundry museum is located in the building of the late XIX century. It is a very unusual place in an extraordinary setting. Machines and tools, archives, photographs, seals and decorations. A model of the first cannon cast in Kragujevac, rarities like the Mauzer-Milovanović rifle known as Kokinka and its improved versions Djurčka with five bullets, first Serbian hand grenade, M24 rifle which was entirely made in Kragujevac, as well as instructions on how to load a disassembled cannon on a horse. You never know what you might need. It is a walk through the history of Serbian military industry but also present are some examples “from the outside”. Very exciting, especially for ammunition fans.

5. Because Šumarice are an incurable wound

The official name is the Kragujevac October Memorial Park but for many it is and always will be Šumarice. It feels closer. Spanning 350 hectares, it has 29 tombs of the fallen in October 1941. About 3,000 innocent people were shot, including 300 youngsters and high school pupils and 40 children aged 12-15. Mounds were erected in their memory.

At the entrance to the Memorial Park is the 21 October museum. A reddish and simple building does not look like a museum. As we walk to the entrance astonished, we realize that there isn’t a single window, anywhere. The light comes from above. Like in a grave. Pits drenched in the blood of Kragujevac victims. Horror originally displayed in the museum building. Poems of Branko Miljković, penetrating, screaming, eternal, greet us.

The permanent exhibition traces the history of the Kragujevac crime. Documents, photographs, personal belongings, last thoughts and messages sent to loved ones, written with trembling hands on pieces of paper, school books, personal documents, several impactful works of art, embroidered verses of Bloody Fairy Tale by Desanka Maksimović… And a creepy dark room with lighted circles on the walls representing victims. Some have a face and a name, many are empty. Nameless. A horrifyingly shocking setting. Worthy of memorial victims.

The mounds inside the Memorial Park are connected by a footpath. The most famous is the Monument to executed pupils and teachers, a work by Miodrag Živković who named it according to some sources the Interrupted Flight. The largest group of pupils and 15 teachers were executed there. A white marble mound, a symbol of innocence, purity and youth terminated when it was about to grow. A line from Desanka’s Bloody Fairy Tale and a historical phrase of a fearless professor: “Shoot, I have a class to teach!”

The most prominent monuments include Pain and defiance, Resistance and freedom, Crystal flower dedicated to fifteen shoe shiners, boys aged 12 to 15, A table for one, the memory of the infamous order of the Nazi general Franz Böhme and a work of the Mexican sculptor Against evil. A whole millennium, in just a day.

At the start of XXI century, a temple chapel of the Kragujevac martyrs was built in the Serbian-Byzantine style. The entire Memorial Park is beautifully arranged, decorated with flowers, immaculately clean. It is the least we can do for the victims.

6. Because the Šumarica lake is a sports oasis

Located in the vicinity of Šumarica, this artificial lake with a well-kept beach is salvation from the heat in summer, and all the year round a recreational destination with a rich fun, entertainment and sports offer: beach volleyball court, table tennis, adventure park for kids and adults, playground for the youngest and a zip line to cross the lake. There is a cafe, a restaurant, even a medical station. In autumn, it is mostly frequented by walkers and fishermen. When the asphalt glows, it must be very crowded and lively here. Then you can rent pedal boats, speed boats and scooters, and swim, of course.

7. Because Sa nama na putu is always by your side

We take a break at one of numerous NIS Petrol stations. Fans of the loyalty program, we are looking for our Sa nama na putu cards but a kind worker reminds us that we “can also use the app”. Indeed, we start Sa nama na putu application, scan QR code, one click, done! We paid with collected bonus points this time.         

There were many of us at the station, and the worker added another useful piece of information: new members who join the program by 30.11. get 500 bonus points with their first fuel purchase. A great offer, isn’t it?

We want to get to know gastronomic beauties of this part of Serbia.

8. Beacuse at Milutin’s library you eat in Šumadija style

What a strange name for a tavern. Only Serbia could combine books and baking. Who says that cooking, just like books, isn’t man’s best friend? Milutin did his best to prove the point. You can consume knowledge while consuming the food. Books lure from the shelves but there is no one to pick them up. True to Šumadija, we chose pork under the sack. It is juicy and melts in your mouth, even lamb lovers wouldn’t say no to it. Prebranac and homemade sarma with tortillas instead of bread, not traditional for Kragujevac but hot and delicious. Artful waiters are cordial and smiling. Milutin can really create a literary work. It wouldn’t be the first time in the history of Serbia’s kafanas.

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8 reasons to visit Gradac river canyon and Ćelije monastery

Whoever came to this town, has found all other towns in it...

…the famous Serbian poet wrote. With curiosity in our hearts, we set off to meet the town surrounded by five mountains. By taking Miloš the Great Highway, we arrive in Valjevo in no time. We drive further towards Bajina Bašta and turn left into the hills, towards the Lelić village and the Ćelije Monastery. The winding road takes us through the forest. A tunnel of greenery. Nature unsparingly gives us hints of the beauty that awaits us ahead. Being of inquisitive nature, the corners of our mouths begin to turn up in a smile.

Why should you visit Gradac river and Ćelije monastery?

1. Because the Gradac river is the pearl of Serbia

A river we can take pride in. There’s hardly any watercourse in Europe that can compare to the emerald-coloured waters of one of a kind Tara River, but Gradac River in Serbia is certainly one of the top contenders. It is the cleanest river in the country and has the clearest water in the Old Continent. Nothing confirms these words better than a lady otter that is wallowing in its waters. The water temperature of 13 degrees Celsius must be very pleasing to her.

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8 reasons to visit Gradac river canyon and Ćelije monastery

Just as soon as it breaks the surface at the foot of Povlen Mountain, the river timidly vanishes to run underground for several kilometres before it resurfaces at the main spring Zelenac. Not far from there, Gradac begins to sculpt a gorge-like canyon of unusual beauty. Its course runs like this almost all the way to Valjevo where, tired of plunging down the slopes and battling the river cliffs, it gently joins the Kolubara River. Densely wooded shores hide some 70 caves. The most famous of them is Degurićka Cave, which dates back to the Ice Age, with long corridors and an abundance of speleothems. It is believed that people have lived here since ancient times. The traces date all the way back to the Paleolith. Numerous excavations and sites testify to that. Along the canyon, steep cliffs in the Brangović village, are home to the remnants of a medieval fortress from as early as the fourth century, based on the findings. Jerina’s town. It was named by the people after a fairy, a cursed Jerina, who was condemned to roam it forever. It also goes under the name Bežane. Its impenetrable walls used to be a hiding place for the people facing merciless pursuers. The “haunted” remains of the fortress can only be reached by taking a strenuous uphill climb on foot.

Along its entire course, Gradac selflessly gives life to lush green shores that became home to diverse flora and fauna. A settlement or two can also be found. The Gradac River Canyon is a landscape of exceptional features. Super awesome, as the young people would say today.

2. Because the ethno-restaurant can be reached jump by jump

That’s exactly what it’s called. On the right bank of Gradac, not far off from the Ćelije Monastery. We are convinced the name of the restaurant comes from the way of crossing the small bridge, which is neither wide enough nor still enough, instead, it keeps swaying, but has to be crossed to reach the ethnoecological haven. It resembles a small open-air museum, with its tide mill, cabins and plank houses, ancient tools and devices, all sorts of things from a time long ago. It’s got its own pond too. Besides the fresh trout, you can have beef and goat meat in the sač and goulash, or goat cheese for an appetizer, prosciutto and kajmak. Naturally, everything is homemade and at affordable, rural prices.

Seated at the table on the shore of Gradac, you might be delighted, if you’re lucky, by the sight of unusual guests. A company of goats and billies shows up at the bridge. It is led by the billy called the Paw, who dauntlessly albeit gracefully jumps over the logs and boldly runs up to the table to steal a few morsels. The villagers’ attempt to chase him away and drive him back to the flock is in vain. He is headstrong and keeps up his antics. A lovable horned creature, and cuddly as well.

Mobile phones are laid to rest here as there is no signal. Pastoral sights and the murmur of Gradac are restful for both eyes and soul.

3. Because the Ćelije monastery kept rising from the ashes

And each time, the site became holier. It is nestled in a picturesque landscape among the slopes of the Valjevo mountains, far away from the hustle and bustle of the world, in pristine nature. It was probably named after the monastery church that was originally the size of a monastic cell (ćelija), or a cell in a cave in the surrounding rocks. The church is dedicated to the Holy Archangel Michael. Historical data about its origin are scarce. According to one account, the monastery is the patronage of King Dragutin (1276-1282), and according to another, it was built at the end of the XIV or the turn of the XV century during the reign of despot Stefan Lazarević. But the data on the patriotic past of the monastery is well known. During the Ottoman occupation, it was often demolished and burned, and its priests took part in the preparation of several uprisings and revolts. The grave of Duke Ilija Birčanin, who was buried in the monastery’s port, testifies to that past. During Karađorđe’s rule, it was used as a military hospital. Much later, in liberated Serbia, under the rule of Miloš Obrenović, the monastery was the home to one of the first schools in the Valjevo region, which was attended by the bishop, Nikolaj Velimirović. The church has never been frescoed, but it has a nine-sided bell tower, one of a kind in Serbia, the Mother Superior proudly tells us. The women’s monastery was added in 1946.

We arrive during a Sunday morning service. It is packed with people. Many approach the graceful Mother Superior, to talk to her and seek her counsel. She carefully listens to all, utters a noble word or two and invites them to refresh themselves in the dining room.

At the entrance to the monastery estate, a new three-altar temple was erected, the temple of St. Justin of Ćelije, one of the greatest theologians of the XX century, once an archimandrite of the Ćelije monastery. The vintage exterior is in the style of the Moravian-Raška school of architecture and has a freshly frescoed interior.

Only a few kilometres away is the Lelić Monastery, which holds the relics of St. Nikolaj Velimirović, with Jovanja and Pustinja Monasteries in the vicinity.

4. Because Valjevo is a city of heroes and poets

Many great men and women were born in the Valjevo area. Who should we start with not to offend anyone? Perhaps, we should start with the fearless warrior and one of Serbia’s greatest military commanders, Duke Živojin Mišić. His monument adorns the main town square. It is followed by the most beloved Serbian poetess, Desanka Maksimović, whose portrait itself is a monument to poetry, situated on another town square. There is the writer Milovan Glišić and the members of the Nenadović family – Aleksa, prota Matija, Jakov, and Ljubomir. We owe them much.

Here is where Kolubara River starts murmuring. Its riverbed is currently dry, but sometimes it can also reach the flood stage. The banks are lively and the offer is diverse. Down from the Kolubara bridge, there is a memorial to the execution grounds. This is where, on 4 February 1804, Serbian leaders Aleksa Nenadović and Ilija Birčanin were killed with yatagans by Dahijas. An unusual, reddish monument commemorates the notorious Slaughter of the Knezes. An antique, splendid edifice of the National Museum sits behind it. Not far away is the oldest preserved building, Muselim’s konak, built at the end of the XVIII century. It was built for the needs of Muselim – the then Turkish chief of the Valjevska nahiyah. The decapitated heads of the Valjevo dukes were put on display on its roof. As in the case of the Skull Tower in Niš, they failed to serve their purpose which was to intimidate the people, instead, they fueled the nation’s anger and hastened the uprising. The building was also used as a school and later converted into a satellite department of the Valjevo National Museum.

The city with a long history of wars, rich cultural heritage, green areas, parks, and sports. A very lively town, hospitable and forthcoming. It requires some TLC, the broken windows and rugged facades need renovation, but it begs for cleaning above all. Then, it would be restored to its proper glory.

5. Because Tešnjar is a Skadarlija-like area of Valjevo

Or, more specifically, it could be. It seems longer than the Skadarlija of the capital, but derelict. Unfortunately so. It was once a tradesmen and craftsmen district, with oriental features. It was packed with workshops, stores and taverns. It was busy day and night. The daytime was craftsmen’s time – time for pastry, cakes and coffee. At sunset, it was time for strolling and romancing, and the night was reserved for bohemians. But the bustling downtown faded away. Today, it is run-down and crumbling. Most of the houses were built in the XIX century. That’s how they look today too, with only a few having been restored, giving us hope that Tešnjar will not perish after all. There are barely any craftsmen left. Only a few workshops, a couple of old-style taverns and some chairs put out in the street for Sunday’s chit-chat. We wished that the atmosphere of the old bustling district was still there. A sorrowful sight both for the eye and the soul. The old cobblestone has survived – to our relief.

6. Because, on the way there, you can also pay your bills at the petrol station

Our next stop is petrol station Valjevo 2. While refuelling, we find out that it is now possible to pay your monthly utility bills at all NIS Petrol and Gazprom stations quickly and easily, and even on Sundays. Awesome! We pay the bill at the cash register and rush back to the car eager to visit the place where Desanka grew up.

7. Because Desanka spent her childhood in Brankovina

The beloved Serbs are called by their first names only. Everyone knows, there is only one Desanka. There is no direction sign to help us get to Brankovina, a typical Serbian mess-up. Travelling in the direction of Šabac, a sign will bashfully appear in the midst of the junction and, oddly so, on the left side of the road.

Soon after her birth, Desanka’s family moved from the village of Rabrovice to Brankovina, about ten kilometres from Valjevo. And there, this little girl fell in love with nature. Incurably so. She fell in love with the groves, hills, valleys, the river, dandelions, bugs and birds. She talked and spent time with them, her soul conceived her immortal verses. “I was fortunate enough to spend my childhood at the place that allowed me to learn about life in the best and most beautiful ways, devoid of everything false and extraordinary, just as it was for others. At the nature’s well,” Desanka said. Her homeland is her resting place. Today, Brankovina is an open-air cultural and historical complex. You can see the Church of the Holy Archangels, the endowment of the Prota Matija Nenadović, the old and the new school – both Prota’s and Desanka’s schools, the school’s well and the clerk’s office, five sobrašicas (small church houses from the nineteenth century), wooden houses for family gatherings and dining, a replica of the house and the courtyard house of the famous Nenadović family, as well as their graves. Here lies Aleksa, whose decapitated head was stolen by the courageous Valjevo townspeople and buried properly in his homeland.

8. Because the meals are healthier when eaten under the plate trees

And more pleasant too. Especially during hot and windless days. A vast garden under a branching canopy of giant plate trees features wooden tables and benches. The restaurant Platani is next door to the Valjevo brewery. In a typical Serbian style, we order mixed grilled meat, various salads and lepinjice, which could have been a bit fresher. The meat is a bit saltier; it is good, but nothing spectacular. Good enough to quench the hunger. The quick and pleasant service is worthy of a recommendation. We are sure, however, that better meals are served in Valjevo. We’ll look into it the next time.

Useful tips for your trip:

  • Sneakers or mountain shoes are a must for hiking in Gradac canyon.
  • Drive carefully on the road to the Ćelije Monastery. The road is narrow, and should you encounter a vehicle from the opposite direction, you will have to "squeeze by".
  • If you have a professional camera, bring it with you - you will make these beautiful landscapes immortal. And keep your finger on the "trigger".
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6 Reasons to visit Zasavica and Ethno Village Stanišići

As the summer draws close to an end, we seize the opportunity offered by the sunny weather to spend a day in nature. We’re heading to the place where the fertile and domesticated Mačvan flatlands in Srem is sculpted by two beautiful rivers, Sava and Drina. The place where the isolated natural landscape gave life to diverse forms of vegetation, and which the man, miraculously, decided to leave intact and spare for the beings who do pose no harm to it. Animals. Being near the Drina River already, we may just as well cross the country border and visit the largest city of Semberija and the famous Ethno village. Starting from Belgrade, the road goes toward Sremska Mitrovica and from there on to Bogatić. The sign for Camping Zasavica should be followed.

Why should you visit Zasavica and the Ethno village Stanišići?

1. Because Zasavica is a farm life safari park

The unperturbed Sava and the capricious Drina have been changing their courses from the dawn of time, forming meander bends and re-creating the surrounding landscape. Nobody knows when the landscape that is now sprawling before our eyes has been formed. However, Celtic maps show this region as the place where the dragons used to live once. Their strength had preserved this nature until the dragon-spirited people came by to replace them. So goes the legend. Or it could be the truth.

The special nature reserve Zasavica spans an area of 1,825 hectares, of which 675 hectares are classified into the strict nature reserve category of protection. It is named after the 33km-long Zasavica River, which is fed by the underground flow of the Drina River. It is one of the last wetland areas of Serbia preserved in its original state. As a strict nature reserve, it was put under protection in 1997.

It’s the perfect place for a full-day trip, especially for a family visit. A great opportunity for children to run carefree on a carpet of grass, to play in the open playground and get familiar with animals, maybe even make some friends. Parents can rest and enjoy homemade savoury meals in a restaurant with a large outdoor dining area. Boating, boat rentals and fishing are also available, with a daily boating permit. Don’t miss the chance to climb on top of the lookout tower offering the view of a large part of this untouched landscape with a summit of the Cer Mountain rising up in the distance. It also offers an overnight stay. Recently, two mobile homes have been set up for the so-called glamping, glamorous camping in a glamorous natural environment.

Certainly, the highlight is the safari ride on an electric bus. The wealth of flora and fauna is invaluable, the charming driver begins telling a story. 150 new species of flora and fauna have been identified, and on top of that, a 540 million-year-old river shrimp was discovered last year! The nature reserve is the habitat for 216 species of birds, dominated by a white-tailed eagle, 20 species of fish, among which is a European mudminnow, known to the people as “umbra” and protected as a rare species, 275 species of mushrooms and five species of truffles, 70 species of daily butterflies, and six species of snakes, but don’t worry, none of them is poisonous. The vegetation is not far behind. There are 680 species. The sweet flag, which is used in folk medicine, stands out among them. What diversity and wealth!

Soon we reach the centerfield for the safari – the water hole filled with water from an artesian well that has been tested for quality. The party is already in full swing. There’s a swarm of domestic animals: Bosnian mountain horses, Podolian cattle, cows, and piglets that are quite indifferent to the uninvited guests. A few of the animals glance at us with curiosity, but most of them hardly notice us at all. They have grown accustomed to a life of coexistence with other animals and humans as well. I guess everyone’s welcome here, as long as they follow the local rules. “There are no donkeys”, someone noticed. The lazy fellows must be sleeping late and haven’t yet arrived for the morning watering. The amiable driver immediately starts the bus and takes us to them. As on command, they approach us fearlessly and endearingly, as if they are expecting to get a few chunks of food. The foals are catching up behind them. They are friendly too. They’re sniffing the kids. Sweet, cuddly creatures. “There you go, now you know why men and women often call us jackasses”, the witty driver’s remark makes us burst into laughter. He somehow must inadvertently have missed mentioning the mule’s stubbornness.

The safari can also be done on foot. You should not rely too much on your sophisticated sense of smell but pay close attention to patches of dung strewn along the way, as they are plentiful. It’s all part of nature and we wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ll enjoy the fairy-tale pristine nature from the times of our ancestors. One that should be preserved for the generations to come.

2. Because a cheese like no other in the world is made right here in Zasavica

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6 Reasons to Visit Zasavica and Ethno Village Stanišići

It has the title of the most expensive cheese – 50 grams go for 50 euros. A pule. It is, as may be expected, made of donkey milk. It has qualities that make it similar to a woman’s breast milk. It is rich in nutrients and vitamins, extremely low in fat, causes no allergies, and should not be drunk overheated. According to the records, it’s been used as a medicine for ages. A lot of effort went into finding out how to make the milk start curdling. Without any additives. Pure organic production in the same fashion as prepared by our ancestors, originating from animals grazing on the pasture that hasn’t been used for agriculture for the past 300 years. The recipe, though held in utmost secrecy, is readily available but not the quantities of milk necessary. 25 litres of milk are needed to make a kilogram of this “dairy gold”. A donkey can only be milked for six months, after the initial three months of waiting for the baby to feed. Only if the baby is well advanced and healthy, some of the milk is taken during the second three-month period. From this perspective, maybe the world’s most exclusive cheese from Zasavica isn’t so expensive after all.

Only a few days after announcing the news that the cheese has been made, a personal envoy of the British Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Zasavica, reveals our forthcoming host, who is also the most deserving for the creation of the miraculous cheese. We don’t know if Her Majesty liked the cheese, but she certainly tasted it. Unfortunately, we have not. However, we are treated to donkey sausages by the host. They’re delicious. If the cheese is out of your range, you can certainly afford meat products made from Mangalica, horse and donkey meat or folk herbal preparations.

It is not easy to bid farewell to the world of Zasavica, but we are planning to cross the Drina river before the day is over and reach the fraternal region of Semberija.

3. Because the Ethno village Stanišići is a weekend oasis

The nearest border crossing is Badanovci, over the Pavlović bridge. With only an ID card needed to cross the border, we arrive at Ethno village of Stanisici in no time at all. And over there, we are greeted by an abundance of everything, in line with the Serbian expression “from the needle to the locomotive”, and literally so. As we arrive, we are greeted by Podlugovi station, and immediately the well-known verses of Čola’s song are brought to our minds. This is the starting point for the tourist train. In the pond nearby, there is Noah’s Ark, the boat with an interesting history that was not destined to ever set sail. We take the tour on foot. There are a few more ponds with swans, parading with a couple of black swans and their young ones. There are little bridges, a mini zoo, a church and chapel, halls for various celebrations, including a small amphitheater for events. Sports lovers can play tennis, soccer and test their skills at the shooting range. The wonderful old cabins have been moved from the villages of the municipality of Vareš and the mountains of Zvijezda and Romania, together with the furniture and folk costumes and stone cottages. Some parts look like an open-air museum – water mills, a forge, a dairy farm, and a tide mill, which is still used to grind flour for the restaurant on the site. You can find accommodation in Ethno cottages adapted to meet the modern-day needs and five-star hotels with wellness and spa services.

There is also an audio guide for those who want to know more about the place’s history and ambience. Nothing was spared to please the guests, from the spacious parking to a variety of amenities. Something to suit every taste and pocket. Maybe a little too crowded, sometimes an excessive clash between the old and the new. But all very neat and spotless. The hosts are cordial, welcoming and cheerful, as is the tradition here.

4. Because Stanišići village offers a superb veal in the sač

Of several restaurants, we choose Konoba, out of which the Ethno village Stanišići has evolved. The crowds and the people hurrying towards empty tables testify to the excellent food. And it is, and more than excellent. We order a plate of appetizers – fried dough, kajmak – still warm and extraordinary, with cheese, and homemade prosciutto. It would have been enough, but we could not pass on grilled meat and the veal in the sač. Pljeskavica and kebabs, as perfect as expected, since the famous barbecuers can’t fail. And the veal, oh! Exquisitely prepared, it just melts in your mouth. If there is something that makes it worthwhile to travel all the way to Stanišići village, it is undoubtedly the food.

5. Because Bijeljina is home to the Semberija Museum

It is situated on the city’s main square, in the town’s oldest building that needs refurbishment of its exterior. It stores more than 10,000 items which are divided into three permanent exhibitions. The archaeological collection comprises exhibits from the Neolithic period to the late Middle Ages, a collection of monumental medieval tombstones with Cyrillic inscriptions in Old Church Slavonic and Roman stone monuments. The historic room depicts the city’s past from the time it was first mentioned in writing in 1446. The Ethno-room, probably the most interesting, provides an insight into the folklife of the village of Semberija and the old culture of Bijeljina. What catches one’s eye among the displays are the bone and the tooth of a mammoth, whose age has not been determined, and the radio set that was given as a personal gift to the Rodoljub Čolaković, a revolutionary and a write born in a rich Bijeljina family, by Nikita Khrushchev, the former leader of the Soviet Union. The Memorial Room for the Fallen Fighters in the last war has recently been opened.

On the main square, the Museum sits next to the building of the City Assembly, the monument to King Peter I Karađorđević and a small park with the pavement chessboard with king-size chess pieces. While a couple of men are trying to checkmate each other, a few others sitting on the benches are throwing in comments. Not so long ago, it was a way of life.

6. Because, from now on, you can also get discounts at our petrol stations in B&H

After visiting the Museum of Semberija and quenching our thirst for historical facts and beauty, we refreshed ourselves at Gazprom gas station Bijeljina 1. In a homey atmosphere, the friendly staff offered useful information about the new discounts. You can now use Serbian On the Road with Us loyalty cards in Bosnia too, and they tell us we can get more information in the section News on Discounts in B&H. Overwhelmed with experiences and ready to start our journey back, we headed home promising to return to Semberija –  where history has already spun many stories and the future has just begun to unfold its mysteries.

Useful tips for this journey

  • Bring some food for the donkeys – carrots, apples, or a slice of bread perhaps.
  • If you are travelling from across the Drina River, don't forget to bring your ID or passport with you.
  • Although all currencies are acceptable, the payment card is the most convenient means of payment.
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6 reasons to visit Lepenski Vir and Djerdap gorge

The splendor of heaven in which ten countries are reflected at about 2,850 kilometers. It enthroned four capitals. Strategically ever since extremely important, vital and naturally invaluable. From its springs in Germany, it rolls its violent waters rather lazily through the vast plains. All the way to Golubac Fortress, the lobby of Djerdap. Many say, this is where it is the most amazing. Where mighty waters have broken through the ramparts of the Carpathians.

A landscape dreamt up by the forces of nature boasts unreal beauty, concealing skillfully the traces of a turbulent and rich past, reaching to the very dawn of civilization.

Why visit Lepenski Vir and Djerdap gorge?

1. Because the Iron gate of the Danube is Europe ‘s greatest gorge

A breakthrough ravine, to be exact. Here, known as Djerdap. The name comes from the Persian word Girdap, which is adapted to Serbian, of the same meaning – whirlpool, vortex, dangerous place on the river. Today it is the natural border of Serbia and Romania.

It cut down along more than 100 kilometers of the right bank of the Danube. From the town of Golubac, where the Danube spreads sluggishly more than six to seven kilometers in width, who would measure it accurately. Then it awakes, rushes suddenly and then stops, floods and dries up, meanders a bit and then straightens, all the way until the mountain massifs in Kazan push it to about hundred meters of wideness, and it, being furious, undermines the deepest depths by its strength. It continues along its gorge until it reaches the fortress Diana near Kladovo. Surrounded by lush vegetation and forests, hills and mountains, imbued with the spirit of old cultures. Elusive and meek. Generous and cruel. Ravishing and terrible. Magnificent.

It is part of the Djerdap National Park, which covers about 63,800 hectares. In July 2020, the area of the Djerdap Gorge and its hinterland was declared a geopark by UNESCO. The first in Serbia.

2. Because Lepenski Vir is the oldest settlement on the old lady’s land

Older than the biblical flood, as our host begins the story. It began at about 9,500 B.C. There are lots of disagreements regarding the number of years… on the official site of the location it says 6,500 BC, some sources cite 8,000 BC. Whatever, it is considered the cradle of Europe.

They were extremely clever, those Lepenci. They chose the perfect place for their settlement, 100 meters downstream from today’s museum. Between the river rich in fish, near the whirl where the fish gathered due to the flow of water, and steep cliffs. They built houses and prepared food using only natural tools. They set their homes facing the east, to be warmed by the first morning sun. According to the bone analysis, they were extremely healthy, which is largely attributed to fish that accounted for about 70 percent of the diet. They lived in the same place for over 2,000 years. From the Mesolithic, the hunting-fishing-gathering community, they moved to the Neolithic, the farming and the livestock breeding. The population grew, and the space became tighter, which led to the movement of the population.

VIDEO

6 reasons to visit Lepenski vir and Djerdap gorge

The discovery happened by accident, during extensive research that preceded the construction of the Djerdap HPP. The excavations are on display at the Lepenski Vir Visitor Center. The model, the Mesolithic and the Neolithic of the site itself, copies of monumental sculptures, utility items, reconstructed ways of burial and hologram reconstruction of former houses were presented.

Additional research into the culture that stunned the world is impossible. It’s submerged. Only the Danube knows the secrets.

3. Because Donji Milanovac is a town of unusual history

On the way to this young, picturesque place, one can take a break in the household of Kapetan Mišin breg, at about 170 meters above sea level, from where the view of the valley of Donji Milanovac spreads. You can see a collection of stone and wooden sculptures in the open air, visit a wine museum and taste Vlach dishes.

Before settling at today’s place, the town moved several times. Firstly, from the coast to the island of Poreč at the end of the XVII century before the invasion of the Turks. Then in the 1830s, it returned to the mainland because of frequent flooding, following the orders of Prince Miloš Obrenović when it was named Milanovac after Miloš’s firstborn, Milan. It was one of the first settlements built according to the regulation plan, designed by the Duke of Poreč Stefan Stefanovic Tank. Three decades later, when Gornji Milanovac was created under Rudnik, the determinant Donji was added to the town name. It moved to the present place in the 1970s when the construction of the Djerdap HPP began. It finally settled. It shouldn’t be moved again.

It is most famous for Captain Misha Anastasijević, a rich merchant, teacher and great benefactor, who bequeathed the famous Captain Misha’s building in Belgrade to his fatherland. His house was transferred to the present day small town, stone by stone, beam by beam. It was supposed to be a museum. But the building has been locked up for a long time. The adjacent building is the house of Tenka, which was also transferred from the original location. It is rented by TO Donji Milanovac. Both buildings were privatized in a package with the hotel Lepenski Vir, we have found out. They no longer belong to the people.

Donji Milanovac is also home to the Djerdap National Park Visitor Center, which presents various natural values, the diversity of flora and fauna and the cultural and historical sights of Djerdap. An interesting and receptive exhibition was organized in cooperation with the Natural History Museum in Belgrade.

4. Because Serbia and Romania kissed in Kazan

They almost did. A trivial 150 meters is missing. In Mali Kazan, the Danube is the narrowest and deepest. About 70 metres, according to some data, even 90 metres. Next up, Veliki Kazan is twice as wide. In these straits, everything boiled with whirlpools, rapids and vortexes, like in a cauldron (kazan in Serbian). Hence the name.

But even without a kiss, they make love. Serbia and Romania. They court each other in a seductive game of steep cliffs. But being jealous, the Danube doesn’t let them connect. And so on for centuries, millennia. A contagious romance. Love is born at first sight in all who witness this extraordinary matchmaking of nature. Inefficient, for now. The most romantic view is from the viewpoint Veliki Štrbac, the highest peak of Mount Miroč, from about 770 meters of altitude. It takes about 50 minutes to overcome the ascent. The effort pays off, very much so.

5. Because the Traian’s plaque testifies the importance of Djerdap for the Roman Empire

Not far from the Kazan Gorge is the Trajan’s Plaque, which marks the end of Trajan’s Danube Route. It was set up at the turn of the 1st to the 2nd century. The text, dedicated to the emperor himself, is carved into a rock in Latin and reveals that the path was made by cutting down mountain cliffs and supporting it by beams. Serious venture. Only three lines are readable nowadays. Due to the construction of HPP Djerdap, the Trajan’s road was flooded, and the plaque was raised 20 meters. The only way to get to it is by boat.

6. Because in Kladovo, a top-notch perch is being prepared

We are passing the Djerdap HPP. It’s a huge dam. Before Kladovo, there is the fortress Diana, built in the time of Emperor Trajan, which used to be an economic center with a pier. We’re getting hungry. Locals recommend the restaurant of the Aquastar Danube Hotel, on the coast. The terrace overlooks the town beach. Large, taken care of. The Danube, calm and clear. Hospitable.

It’s a big choice, but we choose the fish, the river fish. It must be fresh. Grilled perch and catfish chops. Prepared skillfully, perfectly. And a glass of wine, from the Negotin region. The prices are decent. Warm recommendation.

If you plan to spend the night in Kladovo, the following day can be just as interesting. Only a few kilometers downstream, near the village of Kostolac, there are the remains of the Trajan’s Bridge, which was more than a kilometer long and for about a thousand years it was known as the longest in the world. There are also the ruins of the Roman fortification of Pontes, built to protect the bridge.

One cannot squeeze Djerdap in a day. There are too many interesting things to see and secrets to discover. There will be another new occasion to socialize with the Danube. We stop at BS Kladovo to invigorate a tired four-wheeler and supply ourselves with snacks and refreshments for the trip. We paid, and with the Sa nama na putu app we got bonus points and saved for the next time. We get in the car reluctantly. On the way back, we will not enjoy the Iron Gate of the Danube. It was getting dark.

Useful tips for your trip

  • Bring a hat or cap if you plan to take a boat ride, because the summer is still on, officially.
  • You should also have a bathing suit at hand for swimming in the Danube.
  • Climbing shoes and a bottle of water are recommended if you intend to treat yourself to a view from the viewpoint over Kazan.
  • If you have a professional camera, it's a great opportunity to use it.
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Le Mans 2021 – World’s most prestigious endurance race

The epic Le Mans is a place where history is made. This year, our “G-Drive Racing” team started searching for history again!

How did Le Mans come about?

It has been almost 50 years since the first Mercedes to the premiere of the “24 Hours of Le Mans” race in the northwest of France. The first race was held in 1923, and the winning vehicle had an average speed of only 92 km / h, covering a total of about 2,209 km, while this year our car Aurus 01 # 26 in the LMP2 category reached a speed of 232 km / h, exceeding the total just over 4,878 km.

The town, devastated by wars, but never lost its passion for fashion and motoring, became the most important centre in modern automobile competitions. Today, everyone whose name means something puts himself on the line and proves not only that he is fast, but also enduring.

This year, the “G-Drive Racing” team was among the favourites to win the biggest award and title on the “De la Sarthe” circuit, which was named after the river Sarthe that flows through Le Mans.

Driver preparations for Le Mans 2021.

Usain Bolt had a famous statement that he practiced for twenty years in order to run the race in less than 10 seconds. Likewise, preparations for Le Mans have been going on for years. Due to the need for endurance and riding up to 14 hours in one day per driver, race participants are prepared by doing sports that require endurance, such as cycling and skiing, and special emphasis is placed on the gym and exercise the quadriceps, lumbar back, abs and neck muscles, so that drivers can endure long periods of sitting in the car.

Fast reflexes are also an important feature of drivers in endurance races. To prepare for this challenge, drivers are intensely involved in sports that require quick reactions, such as e.g. squash and table tennis. Weeks before the “24 Hours of Le Mans” race, drivers engage in more intensive endurance training, such as several hours of hiking or running!

Mental preparation is of great importance, and today’s drivers have the opportunity to access the circuit simulator “De la Sarthe”, where they can get acquainted with the track again and again, before the start of the race, to get to the point where they can visualize the circuit and have good driving access before the start.

Team preparations for Le Mans 2021.

The challenges of our team this season started in Asia, within the ALMS – “Asian Le Mans series”.

The first two races of the season were held in Dubai, while the other two were held in the capital of the United Arab Emirates – Abu Dhabi. The drivers from car # 25 won two other places, once they were third and once they were fourth – and in the overall ranking they were third! In the general classification, crew # 26 won, climbing to the highest podium in both races in Dubai!

We started the ELMS season with: Roman Rusinov, Nyck de Vries and Franco Colapinto (car # 26) and John Falb, Pietro Fittipaldi and Rui Andrade (car # 25). Roman Rusinov is the only Russian in history to win the ELMS and ALMS seasons, while Nyck de Vries is the reigning Formula E champion. Pietro Fittipaldi is an offshoot of the famous family of drivers, his brother Enzo is a successful driver while his grandfather Emerson is a legend of this sport and a double Formula 1 champion – 1972 and 1974, but also the first Brazilian to win prestigious titles and the predecessor of Nelson Piquet  and Ayrton Senna. Rui Andrade is one of the members of the golden generation of drivers from Angola who are establishing motorsport in the second largest country in which the Portuguese language is spoken!

After the races in Barcelona, ​​Spielberg, Castelle and Monza, our team currently takes second place in the general classification with good chances to take the championship place in the general classification of ELMS 2021 races at the end of the season with good editions in Spa Francorchamps and Portimao.

Le Mans Race 2021

Our crew consisted of cars # 26 and # 25. Roman Rusinov, Nyck de Vries and Franco Colapinto took turns in car # 26, while John Falb, Pietro Fittipaldi and Rui Andrade shared car # 25.

The race started at 16.00, and due to the weather conditions, that is rain before the start, an additional warm-up round was held to dry the track. After 37 minutes of the race, the reigning Formula E champion and our driver Nyck de Vries reached the leading position with an aggressive ride. At 17.22, the rain started again, which made the conditions on the already wet track more difficult. After an hour and a half of racing, Nyck de Vries still held the leading position at Le Mans!

The sixth hour of the race was marked by the women’s team “Richard Mille Racing Team”. Sofia Flersch (the first woman to ever compete in Formula 3) was behind the wheel, and the car cancelled obedience and blocked the way for other cars. There was a collision and a slowdown in the race. The most bizarre moment of the race took place in the last minutes when # 41 “Team WRT” (behind the wheel of which was the legend of motoring and former Formula 1 driver – Robert Kubica) stopped for mechanical reasons. Robert Kubica is known to motorsport fans for one of the most terrible accidents that happened in the last ten years on the tracks around the world, when he lost his right hand due to an accident at a race in Italy in 2011. As a great champion, Kubica managed to recover as early as 2012 and even won a small race in Italy, which is why the renowned magazine “Top Gear” named him man of the year. After the accident on Le Mans, Kubica was overtaken by another car from the same team this year, so “Team WRT” certainly won.

Congratulations to Team WRT # 31: Ferdinand von Habsburg, Robin Frijns and Charles Milesi, who won Le Mans in 2021. Our car # 26 finished the race in a satisfactory seventh place, showing huge potential with a lead in the first hours of the race. , while # 25 unfortunately had to give up the race after the eighth hour of the race due to derailment.

Is there adrenaline even after Le Mans?

The next challenge of our team is on September 19 at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, where we will be looking for points for the championship position at the end of the ELMS 2021 season!

Our crew, led by car # 26 and Roman Rusinov, Nyck de Vries and Franco Colapinto, has a real chance for the title, and we will see if it will show that on the track in mid-September in the famous Belgian spa!

This race will not be a vacation for our drivers, because it will be of crucial importance for the general placement. For more information about the G-Drive Racing team, as well as endurance races, follow the G-Drive Serbia Instagram page!

While the Sarthe River is still flowing, it is time to turn to new sporting challenges, which will show the octane value flowing in our drivers.

Until the next adrenalin shock,
G-Drive Srbija

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5 Reasons to visit Stolovi and the Ibar Valley

We continue the mountainous summer in central Serbia, in the vicinity of Kraljevo. On these heights, bordered by three waters – the Ibar, the Ribnica and the Brezanska rivers, whose deep valleys intersected Stolovi on long ridges and gave it a star shape. The western slopes created the gorge of the restless Ibar, the fairytalish valley, which hides the pearls of the Serbian Middle Ages.

Why visit Stolovi and Gradac?

1. Because wild horses are sitting on the Stolovi

Half wild, to be precise. Their exact number is not known, nor whether there are any loners and fugitives among them. However, it is known that cattle breeders have always lived in these mountainous areas. According to one of the many folk tales, the mediaeval hero above the heroes, Miloš Obilić, rode his horse – Ždralin, right on the Stolovi mount.

The horses were previously tamed by the local villagers who would take them back to the hills in the summer to have less work. In time, they would be left in the wild for longer and longer periods, sometimes even during the winter, and the horses would manage, learn to survive and finally become independent. And when they were brought back to the tame, they would often flee back to freedom. So they became semi-wild. In winter, conditions can be very harsh and horses are left without food, but some kindhearted souls find a way to deliver it to them.

The hike to see these four-legged gracious animals is quite arduous. We choose the road from the direction of the Žiča settlement. The most resilient ones can walk. We grabbed a plateau with a beautiful view of the environment, believing that we managed to reach high and far enough, close to the horses. While we are impatiently looking for them with our eyes, we are almost convinced that only an SUV can come this far. When suddenly, there is an “ordinary” four-wheeler arriving from a neighboring hill. All seats are occupied in the cabin, behind the a lady on the driver seat. She is smiling and relaxed as if she drives along a runway. We are confused, and at the same time, amazed. The merry five steered us uphill, as far as wheels can reach.

At some point, we leave the SUV and continue on foot. We do not know exactly where the horses are hiding, we just know we have to find them. As soon as we just conquer one hill, a new one emerges… Along the way, we meet a younger couple from Vojvodina, lovers of hiking in nature. They have been climbing, hiking and wandering since morning, but they do not give up. We are grateful for the unexpected company. It is easier. We joke and encourage each other. We finally see the much desired scene. Perseverance paid off this time. Several beauties calmly nibble on the grass, ignoring the newcomers. It was only when the young couple took the carrots out of their backpacks that they began to approach, slowly. The animal immediately smells food, but it also recognizes kindness. And they are not that wild, we thought. But be careful and gentle with these beauties.

Video

On the road with us to Stolovi and Ibar Valley

There are several legends associated with the name of the Stolovi. According to one of them, the name comes from the main ridge that looks like a table from a distance. On the other hand, before the battle in Kosovo, Prince Lazar often hunted there, and benches and tables were made for lunch. According to the third legend, the first Serbian archbishop, Saint Sava, dined in a nearby monastery, Žiča.

The nature of the Stolovi is completely untouched and wild, like its most famous inhabitants. Not very wooded and quite dry, without streams and springs. Pastures, low vegetation, shrubs, wildflowers, and hills that stretch indefinitely.

We are satisfied, but exhausted. Our vehicle presumably also needs refreshment. The nearest gas station is in Kraljevo – NIS Petrol. We are not wasting time. We pay for fuel with the Drive.Go app, without going to the cash register. From the car, ‘cause we are in a hurry.

2. Because Maglič is the guardian of the heart of Nemanjić dinasty’s Serbia

Raised on a high, steep cliff. Hard to access. Almost unconquerable. It has survived hundreds of wars, uprisings and riots. It owes the appreciation to its position, but also to the fog, which would often occupy its bastions. According to folk tales, it had been named after that fog.

In addition to the fog, the fortress is shrouded in a veil of secrecy about his origins. It is not known for sure when and who raised it. It is assumed that it was built in the 13th century to protect the monastic endowments – Žiča, Studenica, Sopoćani and Đurđevi Stupovi, but also the once busy and lonely trade route that passed through the Ibar valley. The first written data about this medieval town come from 1337, from the time of Archbishop Danilo II, who built palaces and cells in Maglič.

The fortress covers more than 2,000 square meters, surrounded by walls with seven towers and the main one, Donjon Tower. Inside the city are the remains of a multi-storey palace with basements, the church of St. George, residential buildings, wells, and water tanks.

It has been declared a cultural monument of exceptional importance. But, as centuries ago, it remains inaccessible. There is no bridge over the Ibar. The swollen water took him away… And that one, according to the locals, was unsafe. Crossing is possible only by boat. At the moment, Maglič is in the scaffolding, works are being carried out to secure the ramparts. We have not been able to find out how long will it last. Nor when the Ibar will be bridged. In the meantime, the initiative “Let’s Renew Maglič” was launched, which would return the former city to its former glory. According to the mock-ups, it would look magnificent. Instead of the remains of the walls, the entrance to the Ibar valley would be dominated by a castle.

3. Because the Ibar valley is a natural and cultural pearl

The persistent water cut its way between two mountain giants – the Golija and the Kopaonik. Through the gorgeous nature, it had created unreal landscapes. Imbued with the breath of history and culture. It is called the Valley of Kings, the Valley of Centuries, and for romantic souls, it is the Valley of Lilacs. In the background of that name is a love story. According to one legend, the lilacs were planted by King Uroš I to express his love for the future Serbian queen Jelena, and according to another, their son, King Milutin, had the valley planted with lilac for his third chosen wife, after two failed marriages – third time the charm. One could maybe find some more tales about it. Whoever planted them must have done it for love, because the fragrant clumps, blue, pink and white colors still bloom today.

The Ibar river is a paradise for rafting lovers and is widely known for its Merry Descent. At the end of June or the beginning of July, hundreds of merrymakers are encouraged to sail downstream 25 kilometers to Kraljevo on rafts, rubber boats, kayaks or whatever they could sail and float. Fun and good time are guaranteed.

4. Because Gradac is the endowment of queen Jelena

She is known among the people as Jelena (Helen) d’Anjou. It is not known for sure from which country and family she originated, but it is assumed that her origin is connected with the Anjouans who ruled the south of Italy at that time. She used to sign as: “Jelena, by the grace of God, the queen of all Serbian lands and maritime lands”. She was the wife of the Serbian king Uroš I and the mother of kings Dragutin and Milutin. She had left an impressive mark in the Serbian medieval state. Her home was the first library and a college. She gathered poorer girls from the area and taught them various jobs and skills, but also literacy and music. She had ordered the transcription of books, which she later donated and bestowed and renovated many temples. Before her death, she became a nun and, at her own request, was buried in her endowment, the Gradac monastery. During the war with the Turks, her relics were moved and probably hidden. Even today, it is not known where they are.

The Gradac Monastery is housed on the slopes of the forested Golija mounting, above the Gradačka River. It was built in the last quarter of the 13th century. For the construction, Queen Jelena chose the best artists who, according to her instructions, combined Raska architectural style with sculptural ornaments of the Romanesque style. The frescoes, which suffered great damage, belong to the pinnacle of the monumental style, and are considered a continuation of the art of Sopoćani painters.

The main church, dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God, was the tomb of Queen Jelena, and the smaller one was built in the honor of Saint Nicholas. It has suffered more demolition and looting, and a serious reconstruction was started only in the middle of the last century. Today it is a nunnery. A kind of testimony to the life of the great educator and wise Serbian queen.

5. Because the tavern At Mira’s offers old-fashioned gourmet delicacies

We have heroically overcome our hunger all day, knowing that a feast was waiting for us in one of the most famous Serbian taverns with a long history. In Bogutovac village. The tavern At Mira’s was officially opened in 1826, but there are data that catering existed here as far back as in 1770. Our meal starts with a glass of brandy, as our tradition commands. The choice of shuts is large, for everyone’s taste. The appetizer includes corn bread and a platter of cheese, cream and homemade “ajvar”. The soup in the cauldron follows, and then the main thing – pure veal kebabs and chicken skewers in foil, to which an unusual story is connected. Gourmets, who miraculously managed to leave some more empty spaces in their stomachs, can choose Lenin’s cake or a sexy salad. The extremely helpful and joking staff will explain the ingredients of the salad with an unusual name.

If you please the boss, he may show you his unique examples of motorcycles, the collections of paintings and various interesting and rare “junk”. Everything exudes the spirit of the ancestors. Food especially. The only problem may be occupancy. Wait for the place to be vacated, you will not regret.

Useful travel tips

  • The SUV is recommended for climbing the Stolovi.
  • Sportswear and hiking shoes or thicker sneakers are a must.
  • Pack enough water, some food and some energy / sweet snacks in your backpack to bring you back to life during a strenuous and long hiking.
  • Bring some carrots or apples to delight the horses.
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6 reasons to visit Golija and Studenica

They say that rich people go to the sea in winter, to exotic places, and spend hot and stuffy summers in the mountains. Quite understandable. We may not be able to afford distant paradise islands in winter, but we certainly can afford summer on mountain. To follow rich people at least half-way. The choice is plentiful. We choose a high-altitude beauty in southwestern Serbia, between Ivanjica and Novi Pazar, where nature still reigns. A journey without passports and accompanying complications. A suitcase full of good mood and exploratory curiosity.

Studenica monastery

 

Why visit Golija and Studenica Monastery?

1. Because Golija is dinaric beauty

It is not naked. On the contrary. It is one of the most forested mountains in our homeland. It was probably named after its enormity. It stretches for about 32 kilometres in a west-east direction. It occupies twice as much space as the gigantic Kopaonik. The highlanders from this area jokingly say: “Golija doesn’t know what delija (from Turkish deli – Turkish irregular soldiers) is.”

Dense forests of beech, fir, spruce. And a mountain maple that survived the ice age. It has hosted about 100 species of birds and mammals. Its resident is also a brown bear, so do not wander deep into the forest, or spend the night under the stars so that you are not visited by an uninvited guest.

6 reasons to visit Golija and Studenica

With us on the road around Serbia

The highest peak, Jankov kamen, rises to up 1,834 meters above sea level. There is a legend referring to the name, of course. Two brothers, Rajko and Janko, bet who will be the first to take up a bigger stone on the highest top of Golija. Rajko was stronger and faster, and Janko was more thorough and patient. Right before the top, Rajko stumbled and dropped a stone that rolled down into today’s Rajkov potok (Rajko’s stream). And Janko successfully reached the top, which today bears his name. It is not just a folklore myth. It is certainly a life lesson.

Due to the exceptional preservation of nature, it was declared a Nature Park in 2001, and in the same year, part of the Golija-Studenica Park was protected by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve.

Golija is also believed to be a mountain that “does not know about diseases”. Whoever visited it, at least for a short time, knows why. And he/she will be back, for sure.

2. Because Rudno is a fairy-tale village

About a hundred households settled on the slopes of Golija, at 1,100 meters above sea level. Scattered on wooded hills and sunny meadows, among potato and raspberry plantations and meadows decorated with wild flowers. On the wind rose where sea and continental currents touch.

Family mood. Everyone knows each other, they have coffee together, sip brandy, help each other. Smiling and cordial. Life without hot asphalt, smog and crowds.

The centre of the village is colourful. Several restaurants, a playground for children on the grass, a school, and a football field whose construction was paid for by a Dutchman. Fascinated by nature and the locals, this man decided to leave them something back. Those who do not have their hills and mountains know how to appreciate them. And hospitality offered. Kudos to the noble Dutchman. In the evening, young people gather on the field, play music from the car, dance, hang out. Rural football tournaments are often organized. Those who are bolder than the World Cup final.

The charms and secrets of Golija can be explored on foot, by bike or quads, which are rented. If you are a good rider, you can also use a horse, although only one is available, as we have learned. The children will certainly be happy if the owner “rides” them around the yard on a horse.

We left the horse to the kids and decided to stretch our legs. We walk, breathe deeply and along the way we pick wild strawberries, tiny, but sweeter than honey. We reach the place where you can see the ski roof of Serbia – Pančićev vrh, on the nearby Kopaonik. Two giants measure each other’s strength across the Ibar river.

We ended up in Vidovdan accommodation. New, clean, spacious. A dream on a starched pillow. Carefree and deep. Fortunately, there are still housewives who do everything the old-fashioned way.

3. Because the mountain breakfast keeps you full all day

Large terrace overlooking the sheep that graze peacefully just below it. We have breakfast together, each at their own table. The housewife brings out the “train”, never ending. The whole village could be fed. Cabbage and cheese pie, roasted pepper on kajmak (cream), donuts, buckwheat flour pies, meat delicacies… And sour cow’s milk. Healing. Everything from the local gardens and orchards, made with skilled hands.

After the morning feast, we wanted to take a nap, but we had to move on. A macadam road leads to the holiest monastery on Serbian ground. Shorter, but more uncomfortable. We didn’t choose it. We were guided by the popular saying: ” The longest way round is the shortest way home”.

4. Because Studenica is the ancestral shrine

It is neither the oldest nor the largest. But it is the first among equals. Mother of all Serbian temples. It settled down in the lush nature, behind the walls, away from ill-intentioned eyes and thoughts. Somewhere between the ground and the blue vault. Elegant and noble, aware of its earthly beauty and heavenly greatness.

Inside the spiritual fortification, a building of white marble, speckled with grey, with a reddish dome, and magnificent wall sculptures stands out. Church of the Mother of God. It was built by Stefan Nemanja, the ancestor of the Nemanjić family, as his grave church, from 1186 to 1196. The influences of East and West, Romanesque and Byzantine style intertwine. Harmonious and magnificent. Around 1230, King Radoslav built a narthex in front of the temple.

We enter timidly, almost silently. Marble floor. On the original entrance, the western portal, a sculpture of the Mother of God with Christ and the archangels, painted and gilded. Unusual, superbly made, precious. The transition to each subsequent chamber is a higher level – the path to salvation, explains the curator. The relics of Nemanja are kept there, in a sarcophagus.

There used to be 14 churches within the monastery, of which, in addition to the Mother of God, two more have been preserved – the King’s, Milutin’s endowment, dedicated to the Mother of God’s parents, St. Joachim and Anna, from 1314, and Nikoljača, dedicated to St. Nicholas, the smallest and the simplest to which visitors do not have access. The bell tower from the 13th century has also been preserved, and Sava’s dining room has been renovated.

In the monastery, Saint Sava wrote Studenički tipik (Studenica Code), which regulated the monastic life in Serbia, and Studenica was determined as free from church and secular authorities. Independent. It was and remains so. It also has its own cross – Studenica cross, a combination of early Christian symbolism of the anchor as salvation and growth and progress in the form of plant ornaments at the ends. On the facades are carved several drawings that are among the oldest preserved architectural designs and an unusual sundial.

5. Because Studenica frescoes are an invaluable treasure

After the death of his father, Sava invited the best masters of that time, most likely from Constantinople, to paint the Church of the Mother of God, which was painted until 1209. For the first time, the inscriptions on the frescoes were written in the old Serbian language, in Cyrillic alphabet. The symbol of the monastery is the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, also known as the Crucifixion of Studenica, one of the most beautiful works of Byzantine art of the 13th century. Monumental fresco, of deep expressiveness. Byzantine blue predominates, which was obtained from a very rare semi-precious stone that was imported from Afghanistan, says the curator. A kilogram of paint was worth more than a kilogram of gold. Among the most significant wall paintings are the representations of the Mother of God of Studenica and the Most Holy Mother of God, as well as the frescoes of the Virgin’s life in the King’s Church from the early 14th century.

The exceptionality of Studenica, its frescoes and sculptural achievements was also recognized by the UNESCO organization. It was inscribed on the World Cultural Heritage List in 1986.

It can be observed and absorbed for hours, days. Always insufficient. It does not fit into words and photographs, nor into amazed looks and unrestrained sighs. Studenica is an art that is no longer being created, a history that writes tomorrow, a faith that does not give up at any cost. Woven into the foundations of Serbian spirituality and statehood. Special in everything. Its own.

6. Because towards Golija, even the breaks are unforgettable

We knew that a long and hard day awaited us, but not whether we would find a convenient place for refreshment in the mountains, so we realized that it was better to make provisions in time. Both for ourselves and the faithful four-wheeler. We stopped at the only gas station on the Miloš Veliki highway, Gazprom Sokolići. Freshly prepared sandwiches, a burger and Italian coffee. Diverse morning flavours for the upcoming adventure. We packed a few Drive Cafe hot dogs, bottles of Jazak water and a few snacks in our backpacks. To have just in case.

Useful travel tips

  • If you have climbing shoes, now is the time to try them. If not, ordinary ones will serve as well.
  • Pack a sweatshirt or sweater, the nights can be cold, even in summer.
  • Dress appropriately to visit Studenica.
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Why should you visit Koviljski rit and Krčedinska ada?

1. Because Koviljski rit is a Danube labyrinth

It is part of the Special Nature Reserve Koviljsko-petrovaradinski rit. We start from Kovilj’s lake Schleiz. Convenient place for a swim. Around forests, meadows, addices, reeds, and bulrushes. Floating carpet of water lilies, grasses, and all kinds of vegetation. “Drezga” is it, we are taught by an experienced host. The song of birds and the chatter of wings. Turtles lazing in the sun.

It’s a lot of fishing. Some fishermen huddle in the thick shade, some don’t care about the heat. The number of fishermen is not surprising. Here is one of the largest fish hatcheries in Europe, reveals the boatman.

Attention is drawn to a flower of unusual beauty and size. White lily. It makes a grenade, the Danube necklace. It used to be the main asset of the suitor, smiling guide. He emphasizes that it is forbidden to pick it. But a grenade can also be made of yellow water lilies, of which there is a handful. It’s all about romance.

We’re passing the place where Kusta made the movie “Black Cat, White Cat”. Here we are greeted by a cheerful group of kayakers who have left their vessels and are relaxed in the water. Sadly, we’re watching them, but there’s no time for snooping, unfortunately.

 

VIDEO

6 reasons to visit Koviljski rit and Krčedinska ada

There are a lot of interesting things about the floodplain area along the Danube. When the water level is favorable, kayakers can venture on a 700-kilometer adventure, agrees on the mileage of the domestic duo. That must be interesting and exciting. Be brave!

The combined charms of nature. Soothing and refreshing. For all senses and soul.

2. Because the ada of the Krčedin is a Danube safari

There are many starting points towards Krčedinska ada. It can be reached from the Srem side and from the Koviljski rit, but the water level did not allow us, so it had to be around, from Gardinac, from Liman. We sail the Danube, cut through wild nature, in some places barely passable. Along the way, we meet a few “mangulica” (Serbian pig) and arrive at the “open” Danube. Soon, an unreal, magical sight emerges. Hundreds of cows, calves, prawns, ungulates, and lowly cattle strutting about with big horns. They all stepped into the Danube. “Up to the knee” only. Animals know how far they can go. There are some bottlenecks on the shore patiently waiting for the chilling line, and some have found salvation from the heat under the trees. Only the horses are running. It’s aimless. Black horses, kulashi, sharci, alati, dorati… Carefree and uninhibited. In the glory of freedom of life.

There are no friendly donkeys. The previous guard went and took them away, our guides are justifying themselves. The new one, obviously, didn’t arrive. The part at the “official” pier on Ada is neglected, uncleaned. It ruins the magic of this animal paradise, where time has stood still for a long time. And it doesn’t need to move on. Only the man should adhere to the inscription on the board: “Protect nature and its wealth because you are also a part of nature”.

3. Because Kovilj is the birthplace of romantic Laza

Kostić, of course. In Kovilj, he finished several grades of elementary school and left. However, he was happy to return there, the host reveals. He recounts a lot of Laza’s mischief and adventures. He liked to bohemian and drink spritzers. Once, in a nearby café, a piece of land fell into his glass. The waiter hurried to replace her, but the pawky poet thanked him: “Oh if you only knew how much of Lenka’s land I drank.” Lenka from the Dundjerski family, rich landlords, who also ruled the vast vineyard. It was great love. Unrealized. Unpainful.

Laza’s birth house is being converted into a museum. The locals say that only the tempering furnace remains from the poet’s era. Until the future museum opens the door, only the sign placed by the citizens of Gornji and Donji Kovilj set the building apart from the crowded neighbours.

4. Because the Kovilj monastery is more than a sanctuary 

There have been various accounts of the founding of the monastery, but there are no accurate data. It is mentioned in the document from the XIV century, and it can be reliably said that it existed at the end of the XVI century or at the beginning of the XVII century. Today’s monastery church was built in the first half of the XVIII century. It is reminiscent of medieval Serbian shrines, most notably the Monastery of Manasija. The church is dedicated to the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel. In addition to the gilded iconostasis, valuable icons, books, and manuscripts are kept, as well as paintings by Uroš Predic.

The monastery grounds are large, landscaped, stunning. It is also famous for its products – natural herbal balm, tonics, honey, fruit brandies, and green walnut liqueur. The Prior was once the Serbian patriarch of Porphyria, who launched the monastic community of the Land of the Living to cure addictive diseases.

5. For there is a nest of storks older than the United States of America 

And it’s not much of a feat, fooling around with the host, as he proudly leads us to a dried-up oak tree that he claims is more than 500 years old. It grew up across the street from the Kovilj Monastery, next to the old chapel. At the top of the hollow tree secured with cables, the storks were adopted. Mrs. Mom is guarding her two cocks, and Dad is out looking for food. Whether or not the storks have nested since the oak tree, you can’t be sure. A history of folk tradition and a little joke about the power of the ocean, and there’s a great commercial. And who would blame them? Especially since Kovilj is home to the largest community of birds that bring children to Serbia. You are waited and escorted. And they make you smile. Dear, sweet creatures.

6. Because Gazprom PS-Novi Sad 16 prepares juicy burgers

We’ve been cruising the wilderness of a violent river for a long time. The soul seeks invigoration. A quick one. We’re rushing to the nearest gas station. There are pastries, sandwiches of various flavours, and burgers – with cheese, bacon, chicken, royal… We choose a double and extra burger and scrambled eggs in a ham bun. Fresh, rich, juicy. We got it all on our breath. That’s when we get ice cream with forest fruit topping. The perfect sweet for the hot summer days. Nourished, sweetened and cooled, we are plowed for a new quest through the waters of the mysterious and always unpredictable Danube.

 

Usefiul tips for your trip:

  • A few bottles of water or a refreshing drink must be kept at hand, and it is advisable cooling bag.
  • A hat or cap will come in handy on a boat / kayak.
  • Do not forget sunscreen, especially if you are lighter skinned.
  • The bathing suit should be kept in the crate – it is difficult to resist the Danube.
  • Bring effective mosquito repellent.
  • Slippers, flip flops and open footwear are not recommended for Krčedinska ada.
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6 Reasons to Visit Carska Bara

Serbia is home to countless splendours and wonders. Even a triangle. Not the Bermuda one, the devil’s dwelling place, but one that is no less secretive. If we imagine Belgrade, Novi Sad and Zrenjanin as its three angles, in the heart of this triangle we will see the tract of land between two rivers, the Tisa and the Stari Begej. The vast bodies of water, freely reflecting the thick vegetation that hides the wonderful world of animals. A little imagination and the queen of all sciences, on our journey to the place where nature earns a perfect ten for its command of mathematics.

Bara

Why should you visit Carska Bara?

1. Because the Pannonian Sea has created the Serbian Amazonia

Nothing was left of the vast sea except a mere pond. But it is “the emperor’s pond”. Without the expected glamour and luxury, though. Quite the opposite. Untouched, lush, carefree. The empire of plants and birds. The chirping and wing-clapping echoes through the thick growth of reeds, willow trees and waterlilies. The nature dances a harmonious three-step with the water, grass and woods.

It was named after the Austro-Hungarian aristocrats who used it as their favourite hunting ground. Later on, other nobles also carried their rifles there. Among those who fired their shots were the Habsburg crown princes Rudolf and Franz Ferdinand and King Aleksandar Karađorđević. All three died tragically. And they were not the only ones. Coincidence or not, history should be learnt from, and the only recommended “weapons” are camcorder, camera and binoculars.

Special nature reserve Stari Begej-Carska Bara covers an area of 4,726 hectares and is home to 500 species of plants, around 240 species of birds, 24 species of fish, and a number of endangered and rare mammal species. The area is divided into three zones of protection. Visitors are allowed only in the third. Access to the first zone is strictly prohibited, both for the safety of protected species, and for your own, as it is the home of wild cats and jackals.

Although it is a swampy area, not many mosquitoes buzz by. As in all places where humans never set foot, the nature keeps everything under control. And here, it has truly set its mind to be the mesmerizing “savage”.

2. Because a ride in the emperor’s boat can be unpredictable

VIDEO

On the road with us to Carska bara

The old boat grew tired and earned its retirement, and the new one is already starting its engine. The ride through the watery jungle is incredibly picturesque, and in the company of a chatty, genial ranger, it is also unexpectedly amusing. We listen with great interest the story of the most successful hunter on the planet, but also the biggest bully, the dragonfly. Looks sure can be deceiving. When the female rejects him, he doesn’t give up, and in his crusade he is often known to snap her head off with his claws. But, the females can certainly hold their own. They have tricks up their sleeves. Being of a different colour, the female can quickly change her colour, like a chameleon, to the one characteristic for males, and if that doesn’t fool him, she rolls on her back and plays dead.

Our wonderful host then tells us about the gluttonous cormorants and the ways in which they punish bad people, about the kingfisher, the beautiful and the smallest fish-hunting bird, and the gentle pond turtles. Our even-tempered, good-natured skipper keeps smiling and keeps the anecdotes coming. He tells us that the pond walnut tastes the same as the one we use in cakes and cookies, and that it has to be “picked” before it drops anchor and hooks itself to the bottom. What a duo!

The stories are adjusted to the visitors’ age. The boat “Carica” sets sail on weekends, and it can be rented out for up to 10 people, plus the captain.

Which animals you might meet along the way, you never know. Because nature is not a zoo; it is an adventure, full of surprises and always different.

3. Because you can live like an emperor all day long

With your family, with friends, or with someone you love. The site is modest in size, but is offers various opportunities – bird watching, cycling, hiking along the path of health, children’s playground, a small grassy field where you can play mini football or volleyball, if you tighten the net a little bit. Refreshments await you in the summer bar, but you have to take care of the food yourself. A picnic basket and a blanket on the grass, or wooden benches and tables under the pergola. Enjoy yourself, watch and listen. Just don’t have any barbecues.

4. Because Kaštel Ečka was the resort of aristocrats

It was opened with great ceremony in 1820. The celebration lasted for three days. On the last evening, a grand ball was held, and a nine-year-old sat at the piano. The Wunderkind. Franz Liszt. Later a prolific composer. Also in attendance was the widely renowned Count Esterházy. Ever since then, it has long been the favourite haunt of avid hunters and nobles. The estate was purchased 50 years later by Count Felix Harnoncourt, who built an addition and changed the castle. Today’s appearance of the main house dates from the late XIX and early XX centuries, when the family was at its height.

We are welcomed by the armoured knight, in true size. Hunting trophies hang on the walls of the side hallway. We go out into the garden. It is spacious, landscaped, full of flowers and greenery. With a fountain and a kids’ playground.

Today, it is a cultural monument and a hotel. The former ballroom has been converted into a restaurant, which also spreads onto the magnificent terrace. The ambiance evokes the art of living of aristocracy, in the times long gone.

5. Because in Kaštel you eat like an emperor

We were trying to choose between fish specialties in the Sibila restaurant, right across the way from the entrance to Carska bara, and the Latin flavours in Etno selo Tiganjica, but the atmosphere of the castle enchanted us. So, why don’t we be nobles for a while. We choose the kaštel goulash with mushrooms, flavoured chicken with a gnocchi bake, and slow-roasted pork ribs, glazed with BBQ sauce. Every morsel is fit for an aristocrat’s palate. Chicken in Marsala wine and the famous turkey mlinci will have to wait for our next visit. We will be back, for sure. Before we say goodbye to one of the most beautiful castles in Serbia, we take a walk through the lavish garden. Nobles of the past would certainly do the same.

6. Because BS Zrenjanin provides royal service

After a day of royal time spent in nature, going back to the asphalt road can be difficult, and the last thing you need is to spend too much time at a gas station. That is why the NIS Petrol station near Zrenjanin is the best. You can fill your tank and pay for the gas without even getting out of your car. All you need is a very convenient app, Drive.Go, and after just two or three clicks, your stay at the gas station will be the briefest ever. Royal!

Useful tips for the road

  • Bring your binoculars – when, if not now?
  • Sports shoes are a must for walking down the path of health and safe stepping on and off the boat.
  • If your plan is to spend a whole day there, you could use some sandwiches and sports equipment.
  • Recommendation from our hosts: “Bring” a good mood for the sounds of silence and songs of the nature.
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