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7 reasons to visit Rudnik and Gornji Milanovac

Šumadija’s calling. Truth be told, we have not visited it for a long time. Although the haiduks have already laid low, but only until St. George’s day, we are rushing to the area known by haiduks. To take pride in their great deeds, to discover cultural and historical sights, and to enjoy the nature. To the city that geographer and scientist Jovan Cvijić, described in a fairytale manner as “a white swan on the green lake” at the first encounter.

Why visit Rudnik and Gornji Milanovac

1. Because Rudnik is a natural and cultural treasure

It is the highest mountain of Šumadija. Cloaked in dense, mostly beech, forests entwined with clear streams and green glades, it guards over the heart of Serbia through its eight peaks above 1,000 meters of altitude. It is the node between the basins of the West and Great Morava Rivers and the Kolubara River. It is named after its wealth of lead and zinc ores (“ruda” in Serbian) that are still extracted today. Owing to its location and mineral wealth, it has been inhabited since ancient times.

It has always occupied a significant place throughout history. Not only did the invaders vie for Rudnik, but also Serbian lords contested for it. Thus, the first Serbian dinar was forged on Rudnik in the Cyrillic script. It was the dinar of King Dragutin. 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 in 1922, as our host, a good connoisseur of the Rudnik region, tells us. And, then, it immediately became a place of fashion, and the lords of the city hastened to enjoy its blessings, he adds pawkily. Rambling along forest and health paths is a real pleasure because Rudnik harbours many natural beauties and traces of its turbulent past. The natural good of Veliki Šturac, which covers eight hectares between the summit of Javor and Cvijić’s peak, is under strict protection.

Walking to the village of Gardovi you will discover the remains of a Turkish town and fortress, and walking to Misa, the remains of an Islamic place of worship from the XIV century. Visiting the monument to Arsenije Loma honours the heroes of the Second Serbian Uprising. It is also worth seeing the Forest House, also known as Vila Danica and Herman’s Vila. The stone beauty hidden among the conifers was built in the 1930s by the contractor Von Herman, an Austrian born in Belgrade, who as one of 1300 corporals survived the retreat through Albania.

Among the peaks that must not be bypassed is Ostrvica, a rare relief phenomenon with steep cliffs. Due to its inaccessible terrain, it is a challenge even for experienced hikers. However, it is worth going up to 758 meters because it contains the remains of a fortified town that is assumed to date back to ancient times. It was rebuilt by Đurađ Branković in the XIV century for the defense against the Ottomans. It is believed that his wife died in it, so it was named “Jerina’s Town” after her. There are many stories about Jerina, and the names of the villages of Trudelj and Zagrađe are related to her. Ask the locals, they will be more than happy to talk about Jerina.

Wherever your feet take you or the wheels drive you, you’ll be grateful.


7 reasons to visit Rudnik and Gornji Milanovac

2. Because Prljuša is a shaft of a prehistoric mine

It is located at the peak of Mali Šturc, almost 1,000 meters above sea level. The best-explored shaft of a prehistoric mine so far has shown that miners once used rock mallets of various sizes. On its steep cliff, copper ore was mined – malachite. Several ceramic containers have also been found, and according to the findings, the shaft dates back to the fourth and third millennia B.C.

The remains of the former mine are still visible today, and traces of mineralization on the rocks as well as various coloured stones give the site a special charm. It’s 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.

3. Because at Gornji Milanovac petrol station we enjoy top quality coffee

Exploring natural and cultural treasures requires a lot of energy. That is why we stop at Gornji Milanovac petrol station, with one of the many Drive Cafe restaurants throughout Serbia, and there we get invigorated with coffee made according to the recipe of old Italian masters.

Upon that, we move on, our senses sharpened and ready for all that awaits us in Gornji Milanovac.

4. Because Gornji Milanovac is the youngest town in Serbia

Or one of the youngest. And the young can often do what the elderly can’t. Thus, a small town in southwestern Šumadija managed to connect two conflicting Serbian ruler dynasties. Although its history is much longer, it was officially founded in 1853. Then, Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević gave the order to move the town of Brusnica near the Despotovica river after which it was named. But when he returned to power, Prince Miloš Obrenović decided in 1859 to rename it in honour of his half-brother Milan. As there was already one town of Milanovac on the Danube, this one at the foot of Rudnik was added the word Gornji (meaning “upper”), because it definitely is at a higher altitude. The young town was rapidly developing, especially in crafts and trade, and it soon became a respectable environment. Unfortunately, in World War II, it was bombed and burned in 1941. It managed, like many others, to rise above the suffering, and it was rebuilt. Nowadays, it is a charming little town with interesting and diverse content.

The town square is dominated by the former District Council building, known as the Old Court. It is the oldest court building in Serbia, whose construction began in the mid-19th century. It is more famous as the place where the unsubmissive duke Živojin Mišić, then commander of the First Army, issued an order for the Rudnik Offensive in November 1914 and led the heroes to the Kolubara Battle. After World War II, it was a prison, and today it’s home to the Cultural Centre and the library. In front of the entrance, the honorary place is occupied by the bust of Živojin, and beside him, on the lawn, there are marble statues of Aleksandar Karađorđevic and Milan Obrenović.

Across the street, you can see a beautifully landscaped city park and the church of the Holy Trinity, the last endowment of Prince Miloš who started its construction, but it was his son Mihailo who completed it. The church preserves the heritage of the town, old iconostasis and parts of the notable Takovo tree, under which the beginning of the Second Serbian Uprising was announced. Nearby is the Memorial Park Brdo Mira with a variety of trees and a large number of monuments. Inhabitants of Gornji Milanovac preserve the memory of all victims.

5. Because the Brković House is a legacy and a museum

The house of the wealthy merchant Ivan Brković has hosted the legacy of the Nastasijević family and the permanent exhibition of the Museum of the Rudnik and Takovo Region. Built in the late 1930s, it is a rare preserved example of interwar architecture. The legacy of a renowned family that left a striking mark on Serbian culture resembles a refined city house dating from the early 19th century. All members of the family were educated and artistic, and their home exudes culture.

Pictures and family portraits, personal items, books, manuscripts, a typewriter, a piano, a cello, a flute, a flute with a music stand, and high-class furniture testify to the life and works of the Nastasijević family. This precious legacy, the house where the family lived until 1920, was donated to Gornji Milanovac by the writer Slavomir Nastasijević in 1983. And thus he gave the Rudnik area and its visitors an extraordinary cultural and historical experience.

Pictures and family portraits, personal items, books, manuscripts, a typewriter, a piano, a cello, a flute, a flute with a music stand, and high-class furniture testify to the life and works of the Nastasijević family. This precious legacy, the house where the family lived until 1920, was donated to Gornji Milanovac by the writer Slavomir Nastasijević in 1983. And thus he gave the Rudnik area and its visitors an extraordinary cultural and historical experience.

In the loft, there is a permanent setting, archaeological and ethnological collection, which includes the period of the Obrenović family rule and the history of the city. The collection consists of objects from the Old Palace in Belgrade and the Takovo Castle that was burned in the fire. Among the most important exhibits is the seal of Prince Lazar, found in the area. The unique metal plate depicts a helmet decorated with buffalo horns, the trademark of the mythical ruler, thus proving that Lazar not only resided here but also issued charters. Admittedly, its replica is exhibited, because the original had to be sent to Belgrade, to the National Museum. The most intriguing item is certainly a piece of the curtain from the Old Palace, in which the bodies of King Aleksandar Obrenović and Draga Mašin were wrapped after their execution during the May Revolution in 1903. The great guide vividly reveals many unknowns about Queen Draga, who was born in Gornji Milanovac, but also about Queen Natalija Obrenović’s benevolence and help to Serbia. We have revised some knowledge of history, but also acquired new knowledge that is left out of the schoolbooks.

6. Because the Norwegian House is a memorial to the “Blood Road”

Its official name is the House of Serbian-Norwegian Friendship. The building is a blend of a wooden Viking drakkar ship and a Serbian wooden cabin. Although it is known to many only as a restaurant, there is a museum setting upstairs to commemorate the prisoners of 13 Nazi camps in Norway during World War II. Around 4,000 people were dispatched, almost all of them Serbs, including about 40 inhabitants of Gornji Milanovac and its surroundings. As part of forced labour, they built a road which was later called the Blood Road, and which is still used today, the curator reveals. There were 1,660 survivors, mostly thanks to the help of the local population, which supplied them with food, medicines, and warm clothes, and some even helped them escape. Thus, after the war, the survivors of the camp and their brave saviours, the Norwegian, decided to immortalize their friendship. All the material for the house, which was opened in 1987, was brought from Norway. The personal items of the prisoners are exhibited, and the history is presented in Serbian and Norwegian language. There are screens on which one can enter the name of the prisoners and find out about their life and fate, if it is known. Evil times make friendships, so the Bloody Road brought the two nations together. The Museum of the Rudnik and Takovo Region takes care of the house, and the visit needs to be announced to it.

7. Because Kota 555 is a high place for a gourmet

On the road Gornji Milanovac-Topola we stop for a snack. We assume that the figures in the restaurant name represent the altitude. We must be right because it is also a viewpoint overlooking the nearby valleys and looking at several peaks. Our exploration of Rudnik nooks and the mountain air starved us, and we gladly accept the “meat” recommendation of the lady owner. As portions are plentiful, we order half portions. Here come the ćevapi, pork neck, and beef under the lid, all in or on the traditional cream. In addition, she brings sauerkraut, paprika in cream, and homemade buns. We dig into it, and though we have done our best, we cannot finish our half rations. We are unanimously rating it with three straight As for exquisite food. And ten out of ten for service and kindness.


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