There is no place like home. Many a voyager was seen off to wayfaring with this popular wisdom saying. Much as the gallivanting in far-off lands holds allure, getting to know one’s own first is well-advised. Along those lines, rather than spinning the globe, get out your homeland map, spread it wide, close your eyes and wherever the little pinkie points is the “bull’s eye”! You will have a whale of a time for sure. Embark intrepidly on the homeland trip holding in store for you adventures like those described in the Thousand and One Nights. Delude yourself not, it will not be all plain sailing, there will be setbacks and cockups, but never fear: the entire country’s way of life we hold so dear will overwhelm you with hospitality and warmth, as, really, there is no place like home, and on this voyage you are always at home. Let us now give you a hint as to what you may encounter along the way:
1.Serbia’s mountains exude health
Delighting the eye, their forest-clad ranges may come across as harsh when their usually sun-drenched wuthering heights become snow-bound. However, Serbia’s mountains are always healing, as if spreading balm on body and soul. The Balkans’ undulating terrain is at its most brilliant in Serbia.
Tara, invariably, tops the list of Serbia’s gorgeous highlands
This natural gem of our country is the most brilliant jewel in its landscape’s crown and will remain unsurpassed eternally. It found its home in the western part of our homeland, between the deep Drina canyon and the valley of the river Đetinja, where she leans on the slopes of Zlatibor. Its highest peak, Kozji Rid, pierces the skies at 1591 meters. This beauty of a mountain fluttered her green wavy dress over thousands of acres covered by dense coniferous and deciduous forests, embroidered it with golden pastures and greenish glades. She painted her eyes navy blue with a ravishing green tint of her clear waters. It is the habitat of more than a third of Serbia’s flora. The entire area is teaming with “jewels”, most precious one being the Pančić spruce, which made it famous world over. A relic type of spruce, slender and tall, with an unusual pyramidal crown, was discovered by the Serbian botanist Josif Pančić in 1875. There are 290 kilometres of well-kept walking paths and more than 75 kilometres of cycling trails that lead to breath-taking scenic viewpoints. The Crveni Potok (Red Creek) is a miraculous rainforest type trees nature reserve that have been preserved here. In some places, the ground moves under the feet. Tara’s entire realm is ruled by the brown bear. A befitting guardian and its most privileged dweller. Probably the most exciting adventure, which requires some courage, is observation of this Europe’s greatest beast in its natural environment. The number of recorded individual bears is about sixty. You may watch the bears at their feeding grounds from the observation posts, of course, with a guide. This enchanting mountain well deserves its National Heritage Park title. The locals are not very much impressed by the titles, but they tenderly cherish their mountain goddess of Serbia.
8 reasons to visit Tara
The Mountains of Homolje rise to the skies in all their glorious beauty
These mountain ranges enclose the eastern Serbian area, about 900 meters high on average. They are overgrown with oak and beech forests and covered with endless pastures and meadows, rich in diverse and medicinal herbs, forest fruits and are a habitat for many animals that find their safe haven amid the pristine landscape, where you can still spot the so-called “katuns”, mountain roof-shaped log cabins, sprawling pastures where live stock lounges and top quality cheese is made, as well as the unsurpassed honey. In the olden days, it served as a refuge being so hard to access. Numerous caves give this place a special charm, the most famous being Ceremošnja and Ravništarka. The district of Homolje takes special pride in the Gorge of Gornjak, cut by the Mlava River through the luxuriant, unbridled nature. It is because of the temples and remnants of the medieval town of Ždrelo that the locals call this gorge a holy valley. Many mystical stories and legends are told about Homolje. At some point in its course, the Mlava River flows silently. Locals call it “the silent water.” The sovereign rule of nature is undisputed as the visitors are few and far between.
6 reasons to visit Homolje
The Mount Rudnik is the guardian of Serbia’s heart
This obliging and privilege title was bestowed on this highest mountain in Serbia’s district of Šumadija for its eight peaks above 1,000 meters of altitude. It is named after its wealth of lead and zinc ores (“ruda” in Serbian means ore) that are still extracted today. Owing to its location and mineral wealth, it has been inhabited since ancient times. The ore produces the money, so the first Serbian dinar was forged in the very environs of Rudnik in the Cyrillic script on it. It was the dinar of King Dragutin. Dense, mostly beech, forests entwined with clear streams and green glades are natural treasure. What is more, a peculiar wind rose blows on it, and due to that and a lot of sunshine throughout the year and high ionization of air, it was officially made a fresh air spa. Rudnik has always occupied a significant place throughout history, harbouring many natural beauties and traces of its turbulent past. One testament to that is Prljuša, a shaft of a prehistoric mine, dating back to the fourth and third millennia B.C, according to the findings. The remnants of the former mine are still visible today, at the arranged archaeological site that is also a viewpoint. The view overlooks the forest, which is hilly, green, and ravishing. It reaches all the way to Gruža Lake. Tread and observe carefully. And, if you’re lucky, you might find a piece of mountain crystal.
7 reasons to visit Rudnik and Gornji Milanovac
2.Serbia’s lakes are water oases
In the absence of salt water, they are sweet comfort and refreshment on hot summer days. And much more. They are habitats for many plants and animals, nesting and wintering grounds for various birds, favourite picnic spots, hiding places for solitude, and meeting places for competition and socializing.
Lake of Zaovine is Tara’s emerald eye
Artificial, yet spellbound. he lake itself was formed in the late seventies, by damming the Beli Razav canyon. At almost 900 meters above sea level. It is named after the village of Zaovine, the most spacious one in this municipality. The steep shores that once were mountain slopes now are filled with water, its colours, so unreal and exotic, ranging from iridescent light and turquoise blue to opal green. It lent its water to mankind to generate electricity, leaving the barren shores resembling a doom’s day scene. But even so dried up, it kept its colours. It gained fame when a Serbian botanist Josif Pančić discovered a special endemic species of spruce. The seemingly intact Lake Spajići, on the other side of the dam, improves this currently bleak landscape. Navy blue as the sea depths and surrounded by dense forest. If it were not for the human meddling, the lake couple would be unparalleled world over.
8 reasons to visit Tara
Lake Gruža is the Sea of Šumadija
Serbia’s yet another man-made gem of a lake was created by damming one of the longest and water-richest rivers of Šumadija, the Gruža River, so it was named after it. It is the fifth largest artificial lake in Serbia. Its long river bank is quite rugged and usually accessible, covered in meadows and glens. It is rich in fish, so fishermen are all over the place. Even fans of rowing, kayaking as well as surfing enjoy it when the wind is favourable. Along the river bank pathways are arranged for walking, cycling and jogging. Or you can just sit on a bench, enjoy the view, chat with your friends, or be alone and read. Currently sparse are hotels and other hospitality facilities, however, in time there may be a development spree, so, who knows, the entire area may become, what the locals call the Sea of Šumadija.
6 reasons to visit Lake Gruža
Bela Crkva lakes are a string of pearls of Banat
A city of lakes, as Bela Crkva is known for the seven artificial ones created at the turn of the previous century as the aftermath of gravel excavation operations. Nowadays, their special attractions make them extremely popular. People like to visit all these jeyera because of their special charms. Secluded and peaceful beaches, catches of huge fish, wind driven by surfers and sailors, but also good fun and nightlife. The most visited lake is Gradsko. It is nicely arranged – concrete and gravel beach, waterpolo pool, water jumpers, catering facilities, toilets, showers, stall tables with knickknacks. There are street lamps along the pedestrian and trim paths that go around the entire lake, so you can walk and train at night, too. Vračevgajsko, Šaransko and Šljunkara are no less popular with the excursionists, while the remaining three lakes are “wild” and usually visited by divers and enthusiastic fishermen. These lakes with pristinely clear water offer something for everyone.
6 reasons to visit Deliblatska peščara
3.Serbia’s shrines are a testament to its indomitability
They bothered every conqueror and many wicked people. Demolished, burned and destroyed. But the church, the people and the Serbian rulers persistently restored and rebuilt them. Today, from every corner of the Serbian soil, they testify that neither fire nor sword, nor the strongest force can break spirit and faith.
The Rača monastery preserved the Miroslav’s Gospel
A resplendent edifice of this monastery is hidden in a fairy-tale netherworld. Surrounded by forests on the slopes of Tara, on the right bank of the river Rača, a tributary of the Drina River. The impeccably arranged flower garden is dominated by a high bell tower, made of stone. The church, adorned with ingeniously framed frescoes, boasts one of Serbia’s most beautiful iconostases and keeps the relics of its first benefactor, King Dragutin, who built it in the seventh decade of the 13th century, six kilometres away from Bajina Bašta. The history of the monastery is harsh, as it is heroic. It shielded from destruction a centrepiece of Serbia’s material heritage – the oldest preserved Serbian manuscript. In World War Two, the Miroslav’s Gospel was given in care of the monks of Rača, who hid the manuscript deep in the ground, at the foot of the stone slabs under the altar. That is how it survived the Bulgarian destruction and burning in 1943. Notwithstanding incessant menaces, Serbia’s most cherished movable heritage is protected. Even if Rača had no other history, the preservation of the most precious Serbian book would make it priceless.
9 reasons to visit Bajina Bašta
The Gornjak Monastery was founded by Prince Lazar
It found its home in the heart of the Gorge. It is located in picturesque landscapes, at the foot of the steep cliffs of the Ježevac mountain, on the left bank of the Mlava River. Once named Ždrelo, today it is called Gornjak. One oral tradition says that it was named after a medieval nearby town, another one suggests it was named after the so-called “gornjak”, the mountain wind. It was founded by Prince Lazar, who wanted to make a small offering to the Mother of God. It was built between 1379 and 1381 in the Moravian style. Of the medieval buildings, the main monastery church dedicated to the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Vavedenje), the chapel of St. Nicholas and the hermitage of Grigorije of Gornjak are preserved. A chapel dedicated to St. Elijah was built in the lodgings. There is a coffin with what is believed to be the miraculous relics of Grigorije of Gornjak. It was demolished, set on fire and ravaged countless times. All the valuables of the treasury are now gone, including the charter of Emperor Lazar, a cup with his initials, the golden chalice he donated to the monastery, and the banner of Emperor Dušan. However, the monastery still goes strong, despite all the bad things that befell it.
6 reasons to visit Homolje
The church in Borač is a stone beauty
The official name is the Temple of St. Archangel Gabriel. The church property is very large and impeccably arranged. Flowers, trees, benches for rest and a drinking fountain for drop-by travellers to refresh themselves and fill their bottles for a walk through the forest. We climb up the small path to reach the small stone church. It has nestled at the bottom of Borač karst, sheltered by steep cliffs from three sides and by century-old linden trees from the fourth side. The churchyard has a number of stone slab graves. It was built in the Byzantine-Serbian style with only two small narrow windows. We enter through a beautiful wooden door. The interior hides a magnificent wooden iconostasis with a wooden cross above. Only remains of the frescoes to be poorly seen date back to the XVI century. The original church was built during the reign of the King Dragutin, by the end of the XIII century. It was restored by the Emperor Dušan, and later on by many other Serbian rulers. It has been ravaged by the Turks for the last time, and it was restored thanks to the efforts of the Knyaz Miloš in 1818. It has been under the protection of the state since 1971.
6 reasons to visit Gružansko jezero
4.Various dialects are spoken in various cities and towns in Serbia
Language is like a mirror of the past. And almost everyone crossed their spears here. East with West, North with South. And they broke them, but in vain. However, he left a few words, which the people accepted, adapted and often distorted. Every place, even a hamlet, has its own folk expressions, localisms and different pronunciations. Whether all seven, or only two or three cases are used, the speech is a feature of the region and, along with different architecture and customs, gives each a distinctive stamp.
Kikinda is quite a romantic town
A typical Vojvodina town of narrow houses, multi-colored and mostly neat facades with a handful of details and decorations. It was built by the Austro-Hungarians, so all the streets are at right angles. One is special and among the most beautiful in the world. About two kilometers long, bordered by a tree line of about 400 trees, behind which houses, mostly family, bright and pastel colors and interesting gates. It is also known for the second earliest inhabitant of Serbia, Kiki, who, according to estimates, was born about half a million years ago. A life-size copy of the mammoth, named after the city where it was excavated, is placed in the courtyard of the Kikinda National Museum, and the skeleton, almost complete, on the first floor. It is home to the only drying mill in Serbia, a dry mill with a large wheel driven by harnessed horses. Although it has not been milled since 1945, everything has been preserved in its original form, only the horses are gone. In winter, the town of Banat is a haven for nocturnal predators, owls, and in September it hosts the Madness Days, as the locals call the pumpkin. A lovely lowland town with an artistic spirit and food that can drive you crazy.
7 reasons to visit Kikinda
Vibrant Southerners live in the town of Vranjem
Housed in the South Morava valley, in a valley between three mountains, it preserves the spirit of antiquity, carefully and jealously, offering its southern soul to everyone and at every step. City of sevdah and merak, song and dance, and Borisav Stanković. The great novelist and creator of Koštana and Sofka. Vranje preserves the memory of his Boro in his birthplace in a cobbled alley, with a hundred-year-old mulberry tree, vines and antique furniture. He does not forget the forbidden romance between a rich Turkish woman and a Serbian shepherd, whose tragic love is immortalized by Bel, also known as the Bridge of Love. There, right on the shore, is the small wooden church of St. Petka, also known as the Crossed Mosque, with a long and unusual history. He does not forget his Pavarotti, Stanisa Stošić, who made Vranje melos famous. He was given a place of honor on the pedestrian walkway, in front of the National Museum of Vranje. Quite a clean, warm and temperamental city. The soul is exposed and the heart sings in an instant. Passionate and sincere. In the spirit of the old saying: “There is no lying in Vranje”.
8 reasons to visit Vranje
Višegrad – eternal inspiration of our Nobel Prize winning writer
Although beyond the current frontiers of Serbia, we feel quite attached to this city for many reasons and keep revisiting it. There is no need to take passports when we want to visit it. It can be reached in various ways with no hurdles or obstacles. You may opt for a boat starting the journey from Lake Perućac, or by car from the village of Mokra Gora. The city sprawls across both banks of the River Drina. The capricious and overwhelming Zelenika over the course of history, took a great tool on it, but bestowed many benefits crowned with world fame. In 1577, Mehmed Pasha Sokolović built over it what will become the world’s most famous bridge. Several centuries later, writer Ivo Andrić comes to live in Višegrad, where he spends his youth as a school pupil. As he became a renowned writer, he dedicated his most valuable piece to these places and named it after the feat of construction made out of white stone on nine steady pillars. A simple title: “A Bridge on Drina“. It brought the most coveted award to the author. Nobel Prize. Since then, Višegrad is always associated with Andrić. A monument to Ivo was erected just before entering the most famous bridge in the world. Modest, but adorned with floral arrangements. The memorial classroom of Ivo Andrić, where you can find out what kind of student he was. Later, the movie miracle worker Kusturica and Visegrad got involved a little and gave Andrićgrad as a gift, to guarantee the Nobel laureate eternity. He made sure that Ivy was accompanied by two other great men, Nikola Tesla and Petar II Petrović Njegoš. You have to keep them together. A lively, cheerful and, above all, hospitable town that exudes the spirit of old times.
7 reasons to visit Mokra Gora and Višegrad
5.The nature in Serbia is so picturesque
From the golden granaries of the plain north, fertile orchards of hilly Šumadija, bubbling springs and clear streams, violent rivers and rapids, mountainous mountains of the east and south, and the opulence of the lush west. Nothing is wrong. So whoever likes what, let them go. Nature is often sung. Its inhabitants rejoice that it feeds and protects them. She could do the same to us, if we ever learn to protect her.
The Krupaj spring is the magic of Homolje
At the foot of the Beljanica mountain, on the right side of the Krupajska river, removed from the world and forgotten by time, in the dense unsullied vegetation, the treasure of Homolja was hidden. Blue and green play with their brightest and tamest shades, depicting a fairy-tale landscape. And the roar of waterfalls that cannot be overshadowed. The cleanest and clearest water. It also comes with gold bearing. Legend has it that the Homolj mountains swallowed a huge treasure that is hidden at the bottom of the Krupaj spring in a golden cave, guarded by a water spirit, probably evil. A network of canals leads to the cave, the divers discovered. It is not known whether they got hold of a single nugget of gold. It is a natural monument of national importance. Beauty that hurts, because it is too rare.
6 reasons to visit Homolj
Because Obedska Bara is the oldest nature and wildlife reserve in Europe
It was declared a protected area back in 1874, and named after the nearby Obed monastery. Today it is a special nature reserve, and one of the richest and most preserved habitats of the living world in the Pannonian Basin. The park is appropriately arranged for rest and socialising, with its wooden tables, benches, and fireplaces, where kettles are used and barbecues are made. From the vantage point, you can observe the environment, which can be explored more closely by bike or by walking. You can walk through the forest only on marked paths, because the forest hides the quicksand. A catamaran or a rowing boat ride the swamp-forest space is a special treat. here, you can also come across the main predator here, the white-tailed eagle, a yellow-crowned night heron, which people call “danguba” (or diddle), and some turtles, with a continuous croaking sound in the background. It is a reedbird, a small orange bird. As you cruise this strange realm, be quiet. Observe and listen carefully. Everything sings here.
6 reasons to visit Obedska bara
Zagajačka hills are grassy dunes
This area is reached by a sandy road to the obelisk, the highest point, from where the view opens onto an unexpected landscape. It emerges from somewhere out of the monotonous plain. Rolling, green hills. Once upon a time, there were sand dunes. They stretch endlessly… somewhere to the mighty Danube. Freshly trimmed grass carpet. Without an army of reapers, just another sorcery of nature. The velvet carpet is woven with woody decorations. Some trees, mostly dwarf, grow upright, some, on the slopes of hills, obliquely. It is as if they are extending their hands to their relatives across the valleys that separate them. They are located on the edges of the “Deliblatska Peščara” Special Nature Reserve, the largest in Europe. It is one of the most important biodiversity centers in Europe and the most important steppe area of our homeland, but also an internationally important bird habitat. Today, there is no trace of the desert landscape. But they used to exist. Then our indomitable Košava spread the sand wide. In order to somehow oppose him, the ruler of the Habsburg estates, Maria Theresa, started afforestation, and thus the wasteland took on a lush appearance over time.
6.In Serbia, history and culture are kindred souls
Both have long gone neck and neck, their bond is undoubtedly thicker than blood, and dates back to the ancient times of some. Because since history has been counted in this area, culture has been keeping up with it. And if history were not so terrible and warlike, what kind of cultural heritage would we have today? Preserved, perfect and probably uniform. But history redeemed itself for misfortunes and evils, determining all uninvited and unloved visitors to make their mark. And so he bequeaths us a rich, varied and special cultural heritage. For dika.
Felix Romuliana is the unsuspecting home of the last Roman god
It is considered the best-preserved example of special Roman court architecture. It was built by the Roman emperor Galerius at the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th century and named in honor of his mother Romula. He intended to settle in it after he stepped down from the throne. However, illness prevented him, and the building was never completed. Inside the rampart walls with 20 towering towers are pagan temples, Christian churches, spas with underfloor heating, and a palace that was lavishly decorated with wall panels, sculptures and floor mosaics that rank among the best achievements of the late antique era. Only one can be seen at the moment, but the others, currently resting under the sand, will soon be discovered. On the top of the nearby Magure hill, two hemispheres rise, the mounds of Galerija and his mother. Also the last recorded apotheosis – transformation into gods. Romuliana, also called Gamzigrad after the nearby village, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 2007. Valuable excavations from the site, sculptures and two magnificent mosaics are exhibited in the National Museum of Zaječar. And in order to get a complete impression of Romuliana, you have to go to the town of Zoki Radmilović and Nikola Pašić.8 reasons to visit Zaječar
8 reasons to visit Zaječar
The Serbian bread museum is a heritage of the spirit of the people
The Serbian Museum of Bread – Jeremija was founded in 1995 by the painter Slobodan Jeremić, out of love for his own heritage. It shows the path of a grain of wheat from “earth, through bread, to heaven”, revealing how bread was made in the past, its importance and symbolism, but it also bears witness to people and their customs and way of life. Most of the approximately 2,000 exhibited objects can be touched, not under glass, because controlled dust is an integral part of the museum. The collection of ritual breads is particularly interesting, a rich testimony of spirituality and diversity of customs. The setting is enhanced by the works of the host and a small church dedicated to Serbian glory. The rulers of the Nemanjić family, Serbian saints and old Slavic goddesses and gods are painted. It was nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award in 2017. It is located in Pećinci and opens its doors to visitors on Saturdays and Sundays. A magnificent tribute to the Serbian heritage and our daily bread. Unique in Serbia.
The village of Tršić is the cradle of present-day azbuka (alphabet)
It is the birthplace of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, who collected folk intellectual creations and poems. This prominent linguist reformed the Serbian literati language, and published the first dictionary and grammar book for Serbian language. His legacy abounds in valuable things, most prominently being the “azbuka”, an unparalleled alphabet. Phonetic, perfect. Vuk’s homeland today is a “crash course” in literacy, culture and history. The museum visitors are ingeniously introduced to folk customs, beliefs and traditions by way of 30 boxes, Vuk’s Alphabet Cases, for each letter of the Serbian alphabet, that are placed around the Museum of Language and Alphabet. In tune with the times, a QR code is put on the boxes, so everyone can get reminded of words denoting long-forgotten virtues, such as honour, justice and humanity. These words are carved onto wooden plaques. This memorial place of Vuk Karadzic yet again reminds us that brilliant minds are often born in humble cottages, a far cry from metropolitan splendour. The native village holds the memory of the Vuk with dignity. Pure, green, natural.
Azbuka is much more than a mere alphabet. Tršić is a perfect place for those, who forgot or renounced it, to revive it and understand its significance. They might as well reminisce what Vuk said, as he lived and died in Vienna, far from its native village: “I was born and raised in Serbia and therefore it seems to me that there is no country in the world that is more beautiful than Serbia …”
8 reasons to visit Loznica and Tršić