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6 reasons for visiting Vrnjačka Banja and Ljubostinja

Serbia has long been famous for its healthful springs and spa resorts. In the summer, multitude converge on them instead the seaside. There are meteorologists who predict, in the foreseeable future that these resorts might replace many ski centres, as there will be less snow. Serbia could benefit from this gloomy forecast. However, the question is whether the undisputed queen of this country’s spa tourism is ready to offer a year-round quality and entertaining stay? We explored Vrnjačka Banja in late autumn.

Vrnjačka Banja


At the altitude of about 220 meters above the sea level, protected from frosty winds by the Goč and Gledić Mountains, covered in thick woods, this area has always been salutiferous and soothing. Who and when was the first to discover and benefit from the mineral waters of this spa is not known for sure. The Romans most certainly did. A testament to this is a Roman fount teaming with a myriad of coins with images of Roman emperors. During the rule of the Ottomans, the people buried healing springs to prevent the conquerors from indulging in their bounteous effects. With liberation from the Turks, the development of a modern spa began.

Today, the Vrnjačka Banja Spa is the most famous and most visited resort in Serbia. In addition to seven well-known springs of mineral water, well-arranged so that you can refresh and invigorate yourself while walking and exploring, it is also adorned with a considerable number of noble antique villas with luxurious architecture. The Belimarković Castle, today home to the Local Area Museum, is particularly noteworthy. It is particularly proud of its bridges over the Vrnjačka River. The most famous is the Bridge of Love. It is totally covered in padlocks with which lovers lock their hearts together. It preserves the memory of two young people who were separated by the whirlwind of the Great War. The Serbian soldier did not return from the battlefield in Greece because of his new love, and his beloved withered from grief.

The poetic spirit of the spa is expressed on the Scrapbook Bridge, where boards with verses by famous Serbian poets are placed, while the Distance Bridge indicates the distance to certain world metropolises. The Golden Bridge celebrates mathematics, perhaps the only one in the world dedicated to this science feared by many schoolchildren, which preserves the memory of the grandmaster Svetozar Gligorić who played a simultaneous chess display on several dozens of chess boards by the river. Then, there is little bridge called “Ko to tamo peva” (or: Who dares to sing there?!) is a kind of homage to film artists who were welcome guests of the spa, especially Danilo Bata Stojković and his unforgettable line: “I would drive the bus this way”. Even the indestructible Mr. “Big Moustache” would hardly be able to do it over a tiny structure, but kudos for the idea. Every bridge has its own story and there is a lot to learn.

There are plenty of entertainment and sports events for all ages. Arranged playgrounds for children, an artificial rock for climbing, a zoo, carriage rides, a cinema… Among the newest attractions is the Ferris wheel, which allows you to observe the environment from a height of 50 meters, and the large water park Raj (or paradise in Serbian). By constantly enriching the contents, the dwellers of Vrnjačka Banja managed to transform their medicinal spa into a tourist resort that lives healthy and vibrantly all year round.

Japanski vrt u Vrnjačkoj Banji


The best way to bring together two different cultures and two distant peoples is through nature. The garden inside the main spa park is decorated according to the Japanese concept – an artificial pond, a cascading waterfall, a wooden bridge, narrow paved paths, a wooden tea house, and unusual lamps that illuminate it at night. The art of simple, asymmetrical lines that reflect the harmony of nature. It exudes the scents and colours of a distant island country. And of course, everything is spick and span, Japanese way. Well, the Japanese know not only how to work, but also how to create a perfect natural oasis for rest and relaxation. Along with the one in Belgrade, it is the only Japanese garden in Serbia.

Right next to it is the Vrnjački Labyrinth. Along a kilometre-long path, you may wander through a green corridor made of 440 conifers in search of an exit. Feel free to enter; there are no vicious dragons or traps. A very nice addition to the overall natural atmosphere.

Promenada Vrnjačka Banja


The promenade stretches along the banks of the Vrnjačka River. Shallow during most of the year, calm and quiet, it murmurs sometimes only under the dense canopy of linden trees, whose branches hug above it. They spread divine scents in the spring! We must return to the time when the lindens are in bloom. Numerous bridges make it easy to cross the river. On one side is a park with hundred-year-old trees, diverse lush vegetation and colourful flower arrangements. Artistic touches are given by sculptural works placed everywhere. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and well-kept parks we have visited. On the other bank, there are wooden stalls with various trinkets, pictures and souvenirs, many cafes, restaurants and hotels, some located in old, luxurious buildings. In the central part are the fountain and Gočak, a sparrow dressed in the national costume of central Serbia, the symbol of the spa. From the other bank rises the church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a newer building with an unusual orange-toned facade colour. Lively, attractive, cheerful, and relaxed. Clean and tidy. Good for the locals, but also for the visitors.


6 reasons for visiting Vrnjačka Banja and Ljubostinja


On Culture Square, where the Museum of Spa Tourism is located, above the artificial waterfall, rises Crkveno, also known as Chaika’s Hill. It used to be called Aleksandrovo brdo and the Rock of romantic beauty, for a reason. The cultural-historical entity is protected by law. It nurtures more than 150 types of plants and dozens of buildings, mostly beautiful villas, some of which are cultural monuments. The stairs lead to the amphitheatre named after Bata Stojković. On the summer stage, there is also a memorial room of the great Serbian actor, full of books and his personal belongings. At the top are the fountain of King Peter II, the parish house and the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built in the thirties of the 19th century. The three-kilometre-long hiking trail of Patriarch Pavle begins nearby. At the highest point, there is a lookout point with a statue of a girl with a bird, from where there is perhaps the most beautiful view of Vrnjačka Banja and the surrounding area.

Manastir Ljubostinja


A few kilometres from Trstenik, in lush nature, at the foot of the Gledić Mountains, the first women’s monastery in Serbia was established. It was built by empress Milica at the dawn of the Kosovo War, at the end of 1388. There are many interpretations about the name, which is truly unusual for an Orthodox shrine. According to the oldest, it comes from the word ljubvestin/ljubvostin/ljubostinja – place of love. Namely, there used to be a small church here, where a council was held at the beginning of August. One year, Milica, the daughter of Vratko Nemanjić, known as Jug Bogdan, and Prince Lazar appeared on it. That’s where they saw each other for the first time and fell in love. Wanting to immortalize the first meeting with her future husband, Milica built a magnificent temple dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the site of a small church. According to another interpretation, the name comes from the word ljubo-pustinja (pustinja is desert in Serbian), love for hermit, ascetic life, because in the early Middle Ages, an unusually large number of hermits lived in nearby bays and skits. And the third story says that the church is named after the toponymal of a lovely rock, since it is located at the foot of Samar, the highest peak of the Gledić Mountains. Which one is true is hard to determine, but love takes precedence, always and forever.

The magnificent stone building, in the Moravian style, was the work of Rade Borović, popularly known as Rade the Builder. Particularly impressive are the stone interlacing that frame the doors, windows and arcades and rosettes of unequal sizes with geometric and floral decorations filled with lace patterns. The unusual beauty of Ljubostinja, which is considered the perfection of the Moravian school, was perhaps best described by Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović in the poem Construction of the Ljubostinja Monastery.

„ Rade is building the Ljubostinja temple,

Intricately decorating walls, his craftsmanship so ample,

Lacing marble like a gown of a dame,

as if marble were embroidery frame”.

Manastir Ljubostinja kapija

The painting of the monastery was being completed in two stages, after the Battle of Kosovo and at the turn of the 15th century. As the Ottoman Turks burned it, most of the paintings were destroyed. The visible frescoes are more recent. The interior is dominated by a beautiful iconostasis from the first half of the 19th century.

After the Battle of Kosovo, the princess became a nun and spent the rest of her life in Ljubostinja with numerous sorority and nun Jefimija, the wife of Uglješa Mrnjavčević and the first Serbian poetess. It was here that she embroidered the famous Praise to Prince Lazar, a masterpiece of embroidery art and one of the most significant poetic creations of Serbian medieval literature. For both of them, as well as for many widows of Kosovo heroes, Ljubostinja is an eternal home. Dignified, magnificent, discreet. As if somewhat concealed, unfortunately. If your trip takes you to this area, be sure to visit Milica’s beauty.


Between the towns of Trstenik and Kruševac, there is a settlement famous for its meat roasting competitions, or Pečenjijada in Serbian. It is not surprising that the event has taken root here. So, Stopanja, its official name, has the greatest number of meat roasting shops per capita in Serbia. Here, the skewer is turned at almost every corner.

Pečenjara Stopanja

The road takes us to a meat roasting shop, the namesake of the village, Stopanja. Meagre, but clean, hospitable and cordial atmosphere prevails. Usually roast lamb is also offered, but this time we were late, so only roast piglet was on the table. Fresh, lean, hot, with a crispy crust. It is eaten without bread and salad. It’s so delicious. Whichever roasting place in Stopanja you choose, you won’t go wrong. Your palate will be gloriously pampered.

The TV show was recorded before the beginning of the Christmas Lent. To all who are fasting, we wish them to overcome all temptations with perseverance.

And don’t forget, you can get to any destination faster with the Drive.Go application, with the help of which you pay for fuel at the petrol station, without leaving the vehicle and going to the cash register.


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