THROUGHOUT EASTERN SERBIA

EASTERN SERBIA

DAY 1

Accommodation and breakfast in ethno village Moravski Konaci. Visit to monastery Pokajnica and tour of Natural Museum in Svilajnac. After the museum, we go to Monastery Manasija and waterfall Veliki Buk. Time for lunch and rest at Krupaje spring. Excursion to Resava Cave and the place of Sisevac, after which we go to ‘Sisevac thermes’ hotel for dinner and stay over night.

 ETHNO VILLAGE MORAVSKI KONACI – This lodging place was built of indigenous old houses found in deserted Serbian villages, which were dismantled and then assembled again. Their interior is adapted to modern lifestyle and to attend to the needs of a modern man. In the village central part there is a beautiful domestic cuisine restaurant built of wood, glass and stone. There is a lake near the restaurant with nine little islands connected with wooden bridges, with little stone steps leading to the lake shore. On the two of them there is an ethno room, a kind of showroom of old furniture and house-fittings, as well as divan where homemade sweets and hand-grounded coffee are served, so that visitors can experience the traditional way of life in the past. You can ride in boats specially designed for that purpose, as well as the marine where they are anchored. On the other side of the lake facing restaurant, there is a peninsula with the stage for shows and concerts, built for that purpose too. There are also two mills on the lake as whose grounding sounds fully depict the atmosphere of old times.
MONASTERY POKAJNICA is a log church near Velika Plana. It was built in 19th century and its construction was preceded by a horrendous crime. The monastery was built by Smederevo nahiye future prince, Vujica Vulićević, to release his guilty consciensce because he was involved in vozd Karađorđe assasination. According to tradition, Vujica funded the construction of the church, and also Monastery Pokajnica (translated remorse) with the money he found in godfather Karađorđe’s saddlebag. That is how Serbia Serbia got monument and reminder of this horrendous event. Judging by its history, but even more national tradition, Vujica the duke was one of the conspiracy leaders which ended in Karađorđe’s assasination in July 1817. The act of murder took place in the monastery’s close proximity, in Radovanj grove, and Vujica himself is believed to be the one who carried Karađorđe’s head, but also his sword, garments, badges of honour and saddlebag with as many as 4000 ducats. As the national tradition further goes, and the history records, the duke stopped to have a rest on a nearby hill. It is believed that at that very moment he realized what he had done and that he decided to build a church at that very place to at least partially relase his guilty consciensce. Then Prince Miloš, and his wife Princess Ljubica let him use ducats he found in Karađorđe’s saddlebag for that purpose, and they are believed to have supported the construction of a log church.
NATURAL CENTRE OF SERBIA in Svilajnac is a unique scientific-educational institution of Serbia and this part of Europe, which by connecting science, education and tourism promotes natural sciences and development of tourism for scientific purposes. The Natural Centre of Serbia comprises exhibitions Serbia has not seen yet in this manner: ‘Geology Time Machine’ is one of the most attractive exhibitions and shows the origin of Earth and its development through ages all up to the origin of men. Exhibition ‘Dinosaur World’ is exhibited in the central part of the building. Paleontologic installation comprises of different sceletons which uniquely present mesosic time. Exhibition ‘Minerals and Rocks World’ displays minerals and rocks of the Planet Earth. One of the most attractive mineral is Jadarit, the one found exclusively in Serbia. Exhibition ‘Biodeversity of Serbia’ displays animal potential of our country. Installation ‘Paleontology’ shows how excavations look like in real life using basic tools of real archeologists, as well as real dinasour fossils from the USA, while the exhibition ‘Celestial Rocks’ displays meteorits consisiting of three replicas of very important meteorits which hit our planet. The team of Natural Centre of Serbia is committed to the enrichment of its exhibits, so since this March all visitors can see another two exclusive guest exhibitions – ‘Bioarcheology of Đerdap’, which in an interesting way presents to its visitors the culture of Lepenski Vir and so far has not been displayed outside the Faculty of Philosofy in Belgrade, as well as ’The Witnesses to Ice Age’, which in an authentic way presents imposing specimen of megafauna which lived on the territory of present day Serbia during the ice age (about 16 million years ago).
MONASTERY MАNАSIJА – Resava monastery, better known as Manasija, is the endowment of despot Stefan Lazarević, the son of prince Lazar and princess Milica. The despot wanted to build the monastery along with the Church of. St. Trinity during his lifetime and thus, in the spirit of Nemanjići’s endowment tradition, to erect tomb church-mausoleum where he would be later buried. After the famous battle near Angora (1402) and the sultan’s defeat in the fight with Mongoles, Stefan saw opportunity to free Serbia from Turkish burden. While returning to Serbia, he visited Carigrad, where he was kindly recepted and awarded with a very high title of despot by Byzantine emperor Manoilo II Paleolog. This confirmed that Byzantinum supported new independent Serbian politics. Such circumstances enabled Stefan Lazarević to work on his endowment. Depsot Stefan Lazarević was a great patron of art and culture giving support and sanctuary to all erudite people from Serbia, as well as to the exiled from the surrounding countries conquered by the Ottomans. He acquired education in his family, he spoke and wrote Serbian-Slovenian, he knew Greek and Latin. He was a writer himself, and his most significants works include ’The Letter of Love’, dedicated to his brother Vuk and ’Note on marble pillar in Kosovo’. Some of his original documents he wrote during his reign have been preserved to date. During the despot’s reign in his endowment, Monastery Manasija, elaborate rewriting activity was developed – Rewriting School of Resava. At this place more Christian texts and capital works of antique civilization were rewritten than during the reign of all despot’s predecesors. By creating spiritual shield for his people, leaving behind ample spiritual heritage and values on which Christian civilization was based, despot Stefan helped future generations to grow spiritually, deeply aware of the fact that there is no history without language. He was a figure whose name is written in the history of Serbian people with golden letters. Endlessly pragmatic, wise, a great country man, an incredible diplomat, a courageous and successful war leader, broadly educated, a great poet, an illuminator, despot Stefan presents an incredible mixture of knight courage, profuse intelligence, profuse education and exquisite spiritual and physical beauty. Therefore, it is not to wonder why he was given a title of First Knight of Dragon Order during his lifetime. The symbol of Dragon Knight Order was a dragon with a cross on its back, a tail wrapped around its neck, and to be given honour to wear such an ornament on one’s knight robe and flag was and is still the symbol of greatest honour possible.
WATERFALL VELIKI BUK – On the foot of the mountain Beljanica there are Great Spring and Veliki Buk Waterfall, protected by the Regulation of the Republic of Serbia Government as the natural monument of Lisina. Great Spring belongs to a very small group of powerful karst springs. It presents an extraordinary example of gravitational bodies. Veliki Buk is a unique phenomenon belonging to accumulation bigren waterfalls of Serbia, and is the biggest waterfall in Serbia. It is 20m high, and its beauty and magnificence leave visitors speechless. In time water has cretaed deep amphitheatre of vertical sides in bigren deposits, and its bottom is covered in large bigren blocks. Under the main current there is a little lake just a few meters deep.
KRUPAJE SPRING – Homolje area is recognized as a large eco oasis. Krupaje spring presents one of rare natural beauties and landmarks of this area. With its exquisite beauty, this spring, which on its surface creates karst lake, irresistibly mime into the realm of woods, pure waters and fresh mountain air. Healing waters of thermal spring, which mix with cold spring water of Krupaje spring, add to the picture of this fairy-like place.
RESAVA CAVE estimated to be around 80 million years old and which ornaments are considered as the most beautiful in the region, was the secret of local ploughmen up to recently. Resave Cave was discovered not sooner than in 1962, when a local ploughman showed it to hikers from Svilajnac, after which speleologists researched it thoroughly. Ten years later, after careful preparations, its interior and cave jewellery, about 45 million years old, became accessible to tourists. Its creations started before Big Ice Age, with chemical and mechanical work of subterranean river in limestone ground. Resave Cave is one of the oldest and most beautiful caves in Serbia. It is 4.5km long, of which 2830m are thoroughly explored, and 800m are accessible and adapted for tourists. Cave temeperature is constant with 7 degrees, while humidity varies from 80-100%. The cave interior is rich in numerous and various halls, channels, galleries, pillars, stalaktites, stalagmites, draperies and calcified waterfalls.

DAY 2

After breakfast, we tour Crnica springs and St. Sisoje Monastery. We then go to Senski mines and tour the museum, Ravanica monastery and then Grza spring where we have lunch and rest before leaving for Niš, where we tour Niš Fortress, Ćele Tower and Medijana. Time for dinner and accommodation in Niš Spa.

SISEVAC SPA On the foot of Kučajske mountains, on the height of 360m there is Sisevac spa, one of Serbian tourist gems. Sisevac is located on the spring of Crnica river in the beautiful basin surrounded by forests and valleys. Unique and rare ‘rose of winds’ brings back youth and freshness and will make Sisevac your favourite place for rest and relaxation. St. Sisoje Monastery, along with the Church of Holy Transformation, is situated near the river Crnica, in the village of Sisevac. It was named after its patron, monk Sisoje. It is presumed that it was built in 1380s, and its patron is first mentioned in Princess Milica Charter from 1389, by which she gave to monk Sisoje an estate near Paraćinski brod. The monk Sisoje was buried in the church, and his character is vaguely preserved on the fresco where he is holding the church model. By its shape the church belongs to Moravian School monuments, and is of typical Moravian style, but without façade ornaments.
MUSEUM OF COAL MINING, the first and unique museum in Serbia, founded in 1974 and built in 1930, is situated in the previous building of the mine warehouse. It was opened in 1980 and it has been the guardian of mining history for over 160 years. The museum is in the centre of museum complex ‘Senjski Mine 1853 the City of Miners’ which consists of: ‘Aleksandar’s mine’, the entrance to the pit with administrative building over the entrance itself built in 1860., ‘Sokolski House’, where the first Serbian Labour Council was founded, The Church of ‘St. Prokopije’ from 1900, built in the memory of miners killed in the fire in 1893. It also consists of Radnička and Činovnička Streets, Petrija’s House, the house of famous Petrija from Srđan Karanović’s movie ‘Petrijin Venac’ (Petrija’s Wreath), Primary School ‘Dositej Obradović’ from 1896, ‘Lebanese Cedar Park’, named after the tree that belongs to that sort of pine family which was brought from Mount Athos in 1903, Steam Machine – lift, constructed in 1872 in Graz (Austria) which is still in function, lowering and lifting miners to and from the pit. It operates with water steam and cam wheel made of white beech. There is also mechanical workshop where mine tools, engine parts and other mining fittings were made. In the museum itself there is an underground railing for entering the pit with the note ‘Good luck’, and visitors can see the equipment and tools with which the miners have worked since the opening of Senjski Mine in 1853, which is said to denote the beginning of mining industry in Serbia. Miners’ clothes and shoes, torches, drills, safety equipment, myriad of photographs, with one showing female miners, who did that job when males were in the war.
RAVANICA MONASTERY with the Church dedicated to St. Ascesion to Lord, was built by Prince Lazar between 1370s and 1380s. An old manustcript says about him: ‘He built the monastery from the scratch in the fame of Ascesion to the Lord, big and beautiful, on four pillars, lively painted, ornamented with gold and common ornaments, decorated with silver and golden objects… inclosed with the town fortified with seven towers; he built dining room… cells and attached them to a wall as bird nests… he also built the other town on the east side on the foot of that place… and built hospitals for sich monks, strangers and the weak’. Such monastery complex – with church, porch, powerful fortification with seven towers, dining room, cells, and important economic and manor buildings – must have been built for years like all Serbian renowned monasteries. After the Battle of Kosovo and Lazar’s murder, on the saint day of Vidovdan in 1389 and after his relics were transferred from the Church of Ascesion in Priština to Ravanica Monastery in 1392, the monastery became the place of pilgrimage and the place of Lazar cult, who became the hero from Kosovo along with his supporters. Among the preserved written acclaims for this martyr, two were written by monks from Ravanica at the end of 14th and even beginning of 15th century. In addition to this, the tradition of Ravanica as a cultural centre was created as well, where written literature was cherished, and oral tradition created. Large, maybe even the largest, number of famous national poems devoted to Kosovo and its heroes were created around Ravanica. It seems that Ravanica was even at that time a kind of school for monks, but not before 17th century names of some teachers were revealed. Ravanica monastery is one of the most significant spiritual centres in Serbia. It still cherishes the cult of Lazar, as well as the memory on Kosovo heroes. Under the Ravanica influence, other churches and monasteries were created, with nearby Sisojevac monastery and the Church in Petruški area, as the most significant ones. Not far away is Manasija Monastery, the endowment of Lazar’s son Stefan Lazarević. Although the political centre of the two rulers wasn’t near, the spiritual centre of Serbia of Morava’s time was at this very place. There is no match to Ravanica when it comes to its significance and influence. Ravanica is unique in every regard and it is one of the most beautiful sacral buildings in Serbia.
GRZA SPRING This undeservedly neglected Serbian treasure is located near Paraćin. Many people have never heard of Grza spring and the fascinating dark green colour of the Grza river. The Grza has several springs, and those who have seen them all claim that the one under the beech tree is the most beautiful. Here you can enjoy in incredibly green water falling down in cascades. You can walk along the path of health, put a padlock on the bridge of love and go to a nearby cave. The visit to this spring will take your breath away, and you regain it by hiking through the local woods.
NIŠ FORTRESS At the place of the present fortress, there was a fortification called Naisus and within its walls there was a whole town with its administration and army. The first Roman stone fortress was built here about 2th century and during the Roman Empire the antique town Naisus was an important border fortress. This medieval fortress was erected on the foundations of earlier antique and byzantine fortification. At the late 11th century there were byzantine crew. A great Serbian countyman Stefan Nemanja conquered it in 1183, and in 1989 he met German emperor Fridrich I Barbarosa in Niš. Since the reign of Emperor Dušan the city of Niš finally became the part of Serbian territory, but Turks sieged the town in 1427. During 1730s and 1740s Turks built a new bastion artillery fortress according to Voban system at this very place (Byzantine fortress), in order to defend new boundaries in line with Habsbourgh Monarchy. The present fortress was erected on the remnants of antique and medieval fortification in the period from 1719 to 1723. With the Sultan’s Charter from 19th February 1719 it was decided that a solid fortress would be built. Stonecutters from Carigrad were brought here, and 400 workers were involved in the construction of the bastion. The conclusion of works was celebrated and the board with a note was put on Stambol gate in 1723. The Fortress of Niš is the best preserved edifice of this kind on the Balkans. On the outside it was surrounded by the trenches filled with water, which north part is still intact. Apart from well-preserved massive stone walls, southern Stambol and west Belgrade gate are preserved as well. There are also water gates, the remnants of the northern Vidin Gate, as well as south-east Jagodina gate. The Fortress of Niš is one of the oldest and most precious cultural monuments of the city of Niš and presents its landmark. The fortress is in the mere centre, on the right bank of the Nišava river. There is a summer stage, a number of cafes and restaurants, and in the summertime it is a centre of cultural events (Film meetings, Nišville Festival, concerts and musical happenings, etc). This is a genuine green oasis free of traffic and noise in the city’s very centre.
ĆELE TOWER After the Battle of Čegar, the Turks wanted to revenge to Serbian people in the most cruel way. They decided to erect the fortress made of heads of killed Serbian soldiers on the outskirts of Niš, on the way leading to Carigrad. Turkish commander of Niš, Huršid pacha, in the period from 1809 to 1912, ordered to Serbian furriers to sclap heads and fill the skins with cotton. They were paid 25 grolchs for that job. The cotton-filled heads were sent to the sultan in Carigrad, as the sign of victory. Sculls were used for the construction of Ćele Tower, which in Turkish means tower made of human heads. Ćele is a rectangular tower, 4m tall. The heads were facing outwards, and were fixed with plaster and gravel. There were 952 skuls in total, with 14 rows on each side. Ćele-Tower with so many human heads had a frightening effect on everyone who saw it. It was particularly distressing for Serbian people living in the city and its surroundings. For humane and religious purposes the Christians from Niš would take the heads from the tower and buried them at the cemetery. When they found out, Turks stopped this. In time, the opinion on Ćele tower changed among more sensible Turkish people. During his administration in Niš (1861 – 1866) Mithad pasha, educated in Paris, planned to pull down this barbarian monument, but was faced with the resistance of Turks from Niš. That is how the tower was preserved, which was a great favour for Serbian people. By the time Niš was liberated from Turks in 1878, the tower was disclosed. It was inclosed and covered that year. Fourteen years later, thanks to donations of Serbian people, the chapel was built which still exists. After the liberation from Turks, the number of skuls on the tower decreased noticeably.
MEDIJANA – luxurious outskirts of the antique Naisus, developed in the late 13th and early 14th century. In the period during the reign of Emperor Constantin IV over Roman Empire (306-337.) Medijana saw its greatest construction prosperity. In the early 4th century overpopulated Naisus lost its appeal for well-to-do citizens and they went to live in Medijana, where they adapted old and built new villas. The villas were opulent and decorated with mosaics, while yards and porches were enriched with fountains and sculptures of gods. Medijana became luxurious outskirts with developed economy and agriculture, which is visible in the remnants of villas, farms, workshop centre, pipeline and irrigation systems. Water tower which supplied water to Medijana was very complex and advanced for the time. Water flew through lead pipes towards villas filling up irrigation reservoirs. The other part of pipeline system carried warm, healing water from Niš Spa. Christian tradition of Naisus, Medijana and Constantin influence is mirrored in the fact that in 2000 and 2007 remnants of two churches dating back to 4th century were discovered on the territory of Medijana with the mosaic showing Christ’s monogram. After Constantin’s reign, Medijana was a temporary residence of six Roman emperors on their journey to East: Constancio (337–361.), Constans (337–350.), Vetranion (350.), Julian (361–363.), Valentian (364–375.) and Valens (364–378.). Villa with peristil occupies the centre of Medijana, the most opulent and luxurious villa which is supposed to have been a temporary residence of Emperor Constantin, given the fact that he often came to his hometown. In regard to architecture Villa with peristil in Medijana differs from other similar structures found on the territory of the Balkans. According to its design plan, allocation of rooms, opulent decoration, sculptures and marble linings, it is most similar in architecture to Emperor Maximilan’s villa in Sicily (286 – 305). Its central part consisted of a rectangular yard surrounded with porches with pillars (peristil), and the complex itself consisted of four buildings: luxurious reception hall (aula), two dining rooms (stibadium), thermes and spa. The fact that yard porch, as well as most rooms within the villa were covered in mosaics, shows how opulent this villa was. The motives on mosaics are mainly in geometrical shapes, while the two figures – river deity, Fluvius and Medusa head, are in the luxurious reception hall. Most rooms had wall and floor heating system with clay ’Medijana’ pipes (hypocaust). Here on the archeological site ‘Medijana’ you can see: the complex of villa with peristil (peristil, reception hall, two dining rooms, thermes remnants, mosaics), barn house-horreum, remnants of two early Christian churches dating back to 4th century with the mosaic showing Christ monogram.

DAY 3

After breakfast we leave Niš and go to Ripaljka Waterfall. We tour Soko Banja, Miloš’s Lodging and Baths. We leave Soko Banja and tour Rtanj mountain and springs of Mirovitica river. Time for rest and lunch in ethno hotel Balašević. After rest, we head to Felix Romuliana. Dinner and accommodation on the Lake of Bor.

RIPALJKA WATERFALL created by the river Gradašnica, is near Soko Banja. This is one of the biggest waterfalls in East Serbia, as its water falls from 15m. The name is derived from the term ‘ripiti’ which in this place means ‘dive’. Given the fact that the river Gradašnica dries up during summer and autumn, this waterfall is attractive to tourists in sping time because of its roar and surge in water. Nonetheless, it is not less attractive in other seasons, as the area around it is well arranged as picnic area. The greatest number of visitors to this place is on 1st May, International Labour Day widely celebrated in Serbia, when some 3000 people come here, but there are also many all year round.
SOKO BANJA – Healing effects of Soko Banja’s thermal springs were known even back to Roman times. Soko Banja public thermal bath – Turkish bath, was first mentioned by Turkish travel writer Evlija Čelebija in 1663. After liberation from Turks, prince Miloš ordered reconstruction of the Turskish bath and construction of lodgings, and he appointed the doctor Leopold Erlich as the first spa doctor. The year of 1837 is considered to mark the beginning of organized tourism in Soko Banja when the reference was written to Sergeant major Lazarević for spa treatment. In the early 20th century wealthy merchants and local residents from Soko Banja built villas for their holidays but also accommodation of their guests. Between the two world wars the first modern spa hotel ‘Europe’ was built (Lodge house ‘Park’ at the present time), parks were made, picnic areas arranged and public lightning system was introduced. Soko Banja started developing in a modern way in 1960s when in addition to hotels other commercial buildings and local infrastructure were built. Thermo-mineral springs present natural healing factors of Soko Banja (temperature from 28 to 45,5°C), used for bathing and inhalations, as well as moderately continental climate with favourable atmospheric pressure and moderate rainfall, not much fog and rare windy days, high concentration of oxygen, ozone and negative iones in air and no pollution.
RTANJ MOUNTAIN, monumental, but peaceful, rising above the Black river basin and ends in pyramid of proportional shape on the height of 1566m. Nature lovers, adventurous people and hikers do not miss opportunity to climb the top of Rtanj from which you can behold the Danube, Avala mountain, Kopaonik, Stara planina, Vidin with the part of Bulgaria. Hence is the saying that climbing Rtanj is like climbing the roof of Eastern Serbia. South-east side of Rtanj mountain is where herbs for preparation of Rtanj tea grow, widely known for its healing effects, exquisite taste and flavour. It is picked towards the end of July and in August, and the harvest is a tourist attraction which gathers numerous tourists. Due to its beauty, intact nature and endemic plants, Rtanj was given protection by the Institute for Nature Protection in 1950s. The legend about gold and gems in its inside, which is probably also linked to the legend on the magician’s castle which, according to the saga, used to be at this place and was as high as the mountain itself, where enormous treasure was stored, has brought a great deal of trouble to the natural beauty of this mountain. Restless and ruthless gold seekers have demolished the chapel on top of the hill dedicated to St. George on several occasions with the use of dynamite, which was built by Greta, the wife Julius Minh, an ex mine owner of Rtanj. One thousand workers were involved in the construction of church, and it was dedicated in 1936. Some 20 years ago the chapel was devastated because of the popular legend on hidden gold. It was demolished with dynamite in search of long hidden treasure. Rtanj is ’famous’ for the fact that it exposes its visitors to thirst. All water flows through limestone, goes underground, and then, in lower areas, it gushes in powerful springs on the egdes of this beautiful and mighty mountain which the residents of Sokobanja and their numerous guests simply adore. On its foor there are icicles formed due to constant draught which lowers the temperature in icicles. Rtanj is famous for its afrodisiac plant which is used for preparation of Rtanj tea.
FELIX ROMULIANA is a royal palace designed on the idea of Roman emperor Galerie Maximilian, on the wide plateu of Gazimestan, near Zaječar. Gelerij, who was born in this area, built this palace in 3rd and 4th century for himself and his mother Romuli, after whom the palace was named. It belongs to the special category of Roman palace architecture exclusively to the period of tetriarchy and presents the best preserved example of that kind of architecture. The palace is surrounded with strong bastions protecting the town itself, the palace, from the barbarians. The remnanats of older and newer fortifications were discovered, erected in timespan of 10 years. The connection between the eastern and western gate, the space inside the bastion, was separated in two for different purposes. The northern half encompasses the royal palace complex with a small temple and monumental altar, and public facilities on the southern half (a big temple with two cripts and the porch structure). The facilities are decorated with frescos, stucco, floor mosaics with figure and geometrical motives. From the first decade of 4th century to to the middle of 6th century, the name, look and main functions changed several times. However, in the second half of 4th century, Romuliana became neglected palace, and after Goths and Huns intruded, it became a little byzantine settlement which was mentioned as Romuliana in the list of renewed places during Justinian’s reign. Gamzigrad Palace was renewed for the last time as Serbian settlement in 11th century. Systematic archeological explorations have been executed since 1953, and conservation works on discovered objects have been constinually performed. Location Gamzigrad – Romuliana was entered into World Cultural Heritage UNESCO list.
THE LAKE OF BOR was formed in 1959 by dividing the river Brestovača, when the dam was built and water of the little rivers Valja, Žoni, Mareca and Zlotska accumulated. It occupies the space of 30 hectares, while the depth reaches up to 48m. Water is primarily intended for mine-industrial plants in Bor, but it also influences the tourism development. In summer time the water temperature reaches 25 degrees, which is ideal for swimming and the Lake of Bor thus attracts swimmers like a magnet. On the lake shores there are several well organized concrete, gravel and grass beaches. The lake of Bor is surrounded with deciduous and coniferous forests, green hills and fields. The lake is regularly enriched with several tons of brit in order to raise the percentage of fish. Owing to this fact, the lake of Bor presents the favourite sports fishing spot of eastern Serbia and wider with its pure and clear mountain water. With the altitude of 438m, dominant paleovolcanic cupa Tilva Njagra and moderately-continental climate the lake presents the gem of Eastern Serbia.

DAY 4

This day, after breakfast, is reserved for the visit to Lazar’s Cave and Lazar’s Canyon. After enjoying natural beauties, we leave for Rajačke pimnice where we will enjoy finest wines. That will be the place for rest and lunch, after which we leave for Negotin. We tour Negotin (Mokranjac’s house-museum, the museum of Brigand Veljko, the Brigand Veljko’s gunpowder store, church, etc). Dinner and accommodation in Villa Tea.

LAZAR’S CAVE According to the legend of Zlot, Lazar’s Cave was named after the prince Lazar. After the Battle of Kosovo, the rest of Serbian army found shelter in the cave, fleeing the Turks. There they lived for a while, and ate inside the cave, with the bones of domestic animals scattered around proving their presence. In Turkish time, the cave was walled-up so that brigands couldn’t hide there. Certain terms were often mixed, and thus Lazar’s Cave was also called Zlot’s Cave. Lazar’s Cave belongs to the group of river-spring caves. It consists of two horizons of cave channels-fossile and river-active. The first group of channels is accessible and relatively passable, while the channels belonging to later evolutionary phase are filled with water – constantly or periodically. Lazar’s Cave was built by allogenic rivers, as the waters falling directly to the bottom to the part of Dubašnica plane, which belongs to the cave waterfall.
LAZAR’S CANYON is located in Eastern Serbia, near the place Zlot, and presents the deepest and longest canyon of Eastern Serbia, and it was formed by the Lazar’s river flowing into limestone Dubašnica plane. According to the legend. It was named after prince Lazar, whose troops allegedly rested in the cave after the Battle of Marica in 1371. The canyon is 9km long and between 300-500m high. Its narrowest part is only 7m wide. Since its cliffs are so steep, it has not been fully explored to the present day. Other smaller and less shallow canyons of the rivers Mikuljska, Pojenska and Demizloka, connect to Lazar’s Canyon. Lazar’s Canyon is famous for its diversity of surface and underground karst relief shapes such as karst valleys, rocks, caverns and caves.
RAJAČKE PIMNICE situated on the hill known as Belo brdo (White Hill), two kilometres from the village of Rajac, 24km from Negotin. Pimnice present the unique artchitectonic complex of wine cellars built from the 1750s to 1950s, with 365 in total. They are made of ashlar and timber. They are entrenched 2m into the ground so that fluctuation in temperature is minimal throughout the year. This unique stone town has always been home to wine. Generations of Rajac residents have bred the same passion and love for wine. Every host from Rajac village produces ‘Heavenly nectar’ in one of the sunniest parts of Serbia, which is stored in unique stone cellars. The secret to this area is grape vine that takes the best from its soil. Widely known wine, black muscadine, is the most sought for, and as such it was sung about in national poems of this area. It is claimed that Brigant Veljko himself used to drink it. How were Rajačke pimnice made? At the late 19th century, the parasite called filoxera entered Europe and destroyed vine grapes. This disease brought about the shortage in wine, while wine production in Negotin blossomed. How? Thanks to its sandy-krast soil structure filoxera could’t spread here. That was how pimnice were made, and wine from Negotin started to be exported all across Europe.
NEGOTIN It is considered that Negotin was a settlement formed when despot Serbia was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1459. However, the oldest familiar written historical sources on Negotin and Krajina originate from Turkish register books of Vidinski Sandžak from 16th century. Based on these sources, Negotin was a little village with 55 houses in 1530. There are several legends on the development of Negotin. One of them is the following: ’In the present Little village (one of the oldest parts of Negotin), a man named Negota came to live with his wife Tina, his family and herd of sheep, as there were many pastures around and valleys surrounded with forests and woods. The real settlement started to develop around the sheep lodge, and the name of the place was derived from their names Negota and Tina, forming Negotin.’ The other legend goes that two magnates built towns in old times, one at the place of the present Negotin, and the other on a hill near Vidrovac (today ruins of Vidrov Town). When they completed their works, the one standing on the hill shouted to the one standing in the valley:’ I made the better town than you!’. From ’than you’, which in Serbian is said ’nego ti’ the name Negotin was coined.
Кarađоrđe raised Serbia against Turks in 1804, but Negotin region didn’t join immediately. Only when Pazvan-Оglua was defeated near Sokobanja in 1806, after his death the following year and after Serbian-Russian military cooperation was established, did Krajina (Frontier) join the whirl of the First Serbian Uprising. The brightest pages of its history, marked by Brigant Veljko with his heroic defence of Krajina against the Turks, Negotin filled in the period from 1811 to 1813. After the death of the prince Mihailo Karapandžić, the Soviet and Karađorđe sent Veljko from Banja to Negotin, where he as the Duke of Krajina, protected the eastern Serbian border, kept peace and order in Krajina, erected the Town and bastions around it. That ensured Negotin’s role in the protection of Serbian border stretching towards the Turkish army in Vidin. However, Veljko got killed in 1813 after which Turks conquered Negotin and the whole Krajina. Mokranjac, a famous Serbian composer, dedicated his ‘6th handful’ to Brigant Veljko. Veljko, who was born in Lenovo near Zaječar, had such a restless spirit that it made him join brigants in 1803. He grouped with a famous Stanoje Glavaš, with whose cousin he later related and married and had two children. In the beginning of the First Serbian Uprising, Veljko fought against Stanoje Glavaš, Đuša and Vujica Vulićević. With the Soviet approval in 1807, he started the upheaval in his hometown, Crna reka. His personal courage and fearlessness made Veljko one of the greatest Serbian heroes, who was inspiration to poets and became a legend during his lifetime. Karađorđe appointed him as a duke and trusted Banja to him, and later Negotin, where he lost his life as a hero, defending Krajina (Negotine Frontier) from the Ottoman Empire. After first encounters with the Turks in early 1813, Veljko pushed through to Vidin with his cavalry and seized a lot of cattle. However, the Turks had already planned the attack on Krajina. In early July 1813 near the village of Bukovača, the first larger battle took place when Veljko with his companions battered the part of Turkish army. Three days later the Turksih army crossed the Timok River and headed to Negotin. In spite of being advised by many not to face Turks in the fortified Negotin with the army of less than 3000 troops compared to 16.000 Turks, Veljko decided to do it. Each single day Veljko encountered Turks and courageously fought them, but more powerful Turkish army managed to sustain attacks and carefully approach the fortified Negotin. In vain did Veljko attack Turkish rows each night with unsurpassed vigor, the time worked for the Turks this time. The siege of Negotin that lasted for days completely exhausted its defenders. Ammunition was almost all used up, and support was missing. During that time the Turks were getting closer to Veljko’s trenches and constantly shot Negotin’s bastions using cannons. It is said that Veljko ordered that all metal objects, plates and tin lamps be melt into gun ammunition, filling cannons with talires in the end (metal coins) when Turks rushed towards them. On the 19th day of defence, on 18th July 1813, Brigant Veljko got killed on Abrašev moat, while he was encouraging his soldiers to carry on. Turkish cannon ball ended the life of a celebrated Serbian duke. In vain did his comrades hide his death for five days. The army soon felt he had been killed and in just a night retreated to Poreč fleeing through Negotin marshes. As Vuk Karadžić wrote: ’Soon afterwards the whole region, as well as the rest of Serbia realized that Veljko was gone’. The motto remained: ’I can give up my life, but not Krajina.’
STEVAN MOKRANJAC (1856-1914) is undeniably the most significant and most famous Serbian composer. He was born in Negotin, in eastern Serbia, but he mostly lived in Belgrade. He died as a refugee in Skoplje (the capital of Macedonia) in the beginning of WWI. He remained linked, both as a conductor and composer, to Belgrade Chanting Association till the rest of his life, which under his guidance wrote golden pages of its history. At concerts, beside other domestic and foreign composers, they mainly performed Mokranjac’s compositions, sometimes composed for that particular event. As a composer, Mokranjac literally followed and cherished the national music style, which was initiated in Serbian music by Kornelije Stanković in the middle of 19th century. Based on those traditional tunes he wrote choir spiritual music since his student days till the rest of his life. On the basis of traditional ethno music he created musical pieces of unsurpassed value: Fifteen handfuls, St. Jovan Zlatousti Liturgy, Kozar, etc, and as a conductor he performend those pieces in many European cities.

DAY 5

After breakfast in Negotin we visit Roman palaces in Šarkamen, Bakovo Monastery, Decebalum-Prahovo, Roman camp Diana and Archeological museum in Kladovo. After rest and lunch in Kladovo, we go to Iron Gate, Trajan’s Board and Dacebalum Monument. We go cruising on the Danube in Donji Milanovac and visit Captain Miša’s Hill where we have dinner and stay over night.

BUKOVO MONASTERY – The origin of the monastery name can be just guessed today. Some think that it was named after beech woods (‘bukva’ in Serbian) which surround the monastery. Others say that it was named after a water bird ‘buka’ which was common in this area before Negotin’s Marsh hadn’t been dried up. There are no records on patron or donor of Bukovo monastery, but there are several legends and tales about it. According to one, monastery Bukovo is an endowment of Serbian king Milutin from the late 13th century, built after the victory over Bulgarian emperor Šišman. According to another legend, the patron of Bukovo monastery was St. Nikodim of Tismania who lived in Timočka Krajina (Timok Frontier). According to the third legend, the patron of Bukovo monastery was a magnate from eastern Serbia and it dates back to 15th century.
ŠАRКАMЕN SPRING presents an exclusive monument of Roman culture, while gold jewellery from the mausoleum, which can be precisely linked to a woman from a royal family, presents a spectacular finding, unique on the area of Roman Empire. Namely, archeological excavations, followed with conservatory-restoration works on architectonic monuments, were preconditions for the presentation and promotion of Roman site in Šarkamen, which was cathegorized in 1994 as cultural property of great significance for the Republic of Serbia. Several facilities were found on the left and right banks of the Spring River, among which Emperor Residence Fortification and memorial complex with emperor’s mausoleum and consecutive tumulus as the most significant. The empress’s ashes were found in the mausoleum along with the personal jewellery set. Based on the above explorations, the fortification and memorial complex date back to early 4th century and are linked to tetriarch Maximian Daia (305–313. gоdine), and mausoleum to his mother, the sister of the emperor Galerius. Besides, it was established that the complex on Šarkamen was built based on the design of the emperor Galerie Romulus Felix’s palace in Gamzigrad and memorial-sacral complex in Maguri, dedicated to the emperor and his mother Romuli.
DECEBALUM PRAHOVO – The village founded on the remnants of once antique town Decebalum. The necropolis was discovered on ‘Ideča’ locality and based on the archeological material found here it was established that it belonged to the so-called white-hill cultural group, i.e. that it belongs to an exceptional testimony of early Slovenian material culture. DECEBALUM was erected by emperor Traian in the memory of the victory over Dakia king Decebal. This town, founded on a high steep plateau, dates back to medieval times when it was called Deč. Although it was badly devastated, the remnants of Decebalum, founded in the early 2nd century, can still be seen, as many houses were built on its foundations in present Prahovo. The remnants of once Roman town in Prahovo present one of the most important fortifications, given the size of the area they encompass and archeological findings, not only in the lower Danube flow, but on the whole Roman limit. By exploring the town of Prahovo the material remnants of three epochs were found. In the upper layer Slovenian ceramics was found, and in the other, deeper layer, byzantine and under this one roman ceramics. The town had pipeline system stretching from the place called Caričin (translated means ‘belonging to the empress). In Prahovo in 1884 the plate, although broken, was found with the note: IMP. G. S. AVG. NERVA TRAIANUS. In strategic regard the position of Prahovo is very important. The place lies on the road connecting the fortifications on the right river bank, on the end of a long and diversed valley of the Timok River which opens deeply inside. Situated on the high river terrace, protected from floods, with powerful springs of drinking water, surrounded with fertile arable lands, the Roman town on the place of present Prahovo offered many benefits for life. Nearby dock on the Danube certainly contributed to this, which was built on one of the largest river islands of the Great Island.
ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF KLADOVO exhibits prehistorian, Roman, Late Roman, Early Byzantine and medieval findings, in the chronological timespan of 10.000 years. A great number of exhibits present genuine rarities, the heritage whose significance goes far beyond Sebian borders. At the moment there are over 1500 first-class exhibits of Đerdap collection, discovered at more than 100 locations throughout the country. The segments of representative monumental whole of the Roman Empire borderline, the constituted borders, have been preserved on the territory of Archeological museum of Đerdap, making this a unique archeological park of the region. Tabula Traiana, the inscription put on the rocks of the Lower Canyon – Kazan, which can be seen from the Danube only, is one of the most significant proof of Trajan’s construction activities on the Danube and preparation for the war with Dakians. The remnants of Traian’s road – Traian’s Channel (Sipski Channel) and the famous Traian’s Bridge on Pontes, near Kostolac, built by Apolodor in the early 2nd century AD along with Pontes Fortress (1-6 century), which protected this bridge, present exquisite example of Roman architecture. The significance of this part of Roman Empire is envisaged in the presence of fortress Diana (Statiо Cataractarum Diana), the station on (the Danube) cataracts, an important auxiliary camp from 1st to 6th century, one of the biggest within the boundaries. Diana was surrounded with a large settlement, necropolis, and a dock. Early Byzantine sources mention this settlement as a small town of Zanes.

DAY 6

Visit to the Archeological Site Lepenski Ver, Đerdap Canyon and medieval fortress Golubac. After these sites we visit miraculous monastery Tuman. Lunch and rest in the village Duboka (traditional Vlašić lunch). Then we tour Homolje mountains and the spring of Mlava river where we have dinner and stay over night.

TRAIAN’S TABLE – As the part of operations against the Dakians (the territory of today’s Romania), the Roman emperor Traian built the bridge across the Danube (the Traian’s Bridge). The road construction finished in the year of 103, and the work completion was marked with the plate with the inscription. The plate is known as the Traian’s Board (Tabula Traiana). The engraved text on the board is in Latin and trasnslates as:
‘THE EMPEROR CEASAR, THE SON OF GODLY NERVE, TRAIAN AUGUST GERMANIK, CHIEF CLERIC, PEOPLE’S REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE FOURTH TIME, HE BUILT THIS ROAD BY CONQUERING MOUNTAIN AND DANUBE ROCKS.’
The Roman road was flooded when the hydroelectric plant was built, and in order to preserve the Traian’s board, it was decided that it should be cut off and put 50m higher. Now it can be seen only from the Danube. It is situated between Donji Milanovac and Kladovo. In the summer time a tourist boat often cruises nearby.
LEPENSKI VIR – The archeological site Lepenski Vir is situated in the Đerdap Canyon, on the low Danube Terrace. It is the centre of one of the most significant prehistoric cultures. On the locality of Lepenski Vir the remnants of sacral architecture dating back to 6500 to 5500BC were found. In its centre, there was a spacious square, the place where various rituals were performed. Based on the shape and proportions of the location, it can be concluded that those who were involved in construction of Lepenski Vir had certain mathematical knowledge. Around the fireplace there were sculptures made of big pebbles showing a human figure, primarily with the head shape only. In the later phase, the sculptures got the shape of human figure and became real idols. Those sculptures often bore fish-like human heads, fish, deer, and some objects had strange symbols engraved: symbols similar to coordinate system, drafts, letters, numbers, and landscapes. In total 136 objects were discovered during archeological excavations. In order to preserve the settlement of Lepenski Vir so as not to be flooded during the construction of hydroelectric power plant ‘Đerdap’, it was moved to a higher level, where the museum building was built with the most significant archeological findings exposed, as well as the copies of the most beautiful sculptures, whose originals are exposed in the National Museum in Belgrade.
GOLUBAC FORTRESS – Like a lonely Byzantine princess, like an eternal guardian who noone can pass by unnoticed when reaching the Đerdap Canyion, a well-known fortress of unknown origin defies centuries. It is just presumed that it dates back to 14th century. They all wanted it, they all considered it very important, so many conquerors wanted to believe that they owed it, but it belonged to the Danube only, the only one who knows all its secrets. We would love if the Danube could tell us who built this magnificent structure on a cliff near the road, but also to reveal us which of the legends is true. One thing is certain. All the stories related to it are sad, and the saddest of them all is the one that takes us back to the time when Serbia was under the Ottoman Empire. The girl named Golubana was the most beautiful woman in that area. Everybody talked about her beauty, so the story reached a cruel Turkish pasha who fell in love with her, but she rejected him. To revenge to her, the pasha tied her to the rock rising from water opposite the fortress, dying in agony while watching the town named after her. The other legend goes that the town was named after the byzantine princess Jelena, Despot Đurađ Branković’s wife. She fought grief and loneliness by breeding pigeons which would land on her white hands and she would talk to them about her misfortune and far away Byzantinum she longed for because she was not favoured by the Serbian people. The actrors in the third legends are just pidgeons which used to circle around the fortress and made it their home, so the fortress was named after them. It is presumed that this stone witness saw many historical upheavals and fights, which after the Battle of Kosovo (1389) fell into the Turkish hands, and that afterwards Golubac was battlefield of the two great empires, Austro-Hungarians and Ottoman. Its first and genuine constructor endowed it with nine towers placed in the front, middle and back town, but the Turkish added another one strengthening the fortification and also the openings for cannons. All towers are of rectangular shape but the donjon (the strongest tower, the place of the last defence) with poligonal basis and cylindric upper part, which is hence referred to as ’Hat Tower’.
MANASTIR TUMAN – there are no records on the origin and name of Tuman, they all date back to later history (19th century) and basically present written and preserved tradition orally passed from generation to generation. If the collective and still live memory is to be trusted, Tuman was founded as an endowment of a Kosovo’s heroe Miloš Obilić, who is believed to have lived and reigned over a part of Braničevo. Before the Battle of Kosovo, the monastery had not been completed yet, so St. Prince Lazar invited his squire to stop the construction saying ‘Ta mani’ (translated ‘Stop with it’), based on which the monastery name was derived. Another, longer saga goes that Miloš Obilić haunted in nearby dense forests, and that he injured a hermit St. Zosim when hunting. While carrying this brave man to his palace to try to save his life and heal his wound, at the place of the current monastery the monk pleaded to lay him down and exclaimed to Miloš: ‘Stop here and let me die!’, which like in the earlier saga served as the basis for the derivation of the monastery name. What can’t be denied is that the monastery origin is inseparably linked to Venerable Zosim Sinait, as well as that at the place of his enterprise or around his grave, soon after their repose the sacred family was formed. That possibility is referred to by Božidar Kovačević as well, who in his work ‘Wreaths to Prince Pazar and to Ravanica’, point that the monastery name might have been derived from the Greek word ‘timvos’ (lat. Timulus), which denotes a tomb, that is a burial mound. Whatever the case, the monastery name has survived the centuries and kept the memory of St. Zosim, to whom for centuries many misfortnates from different places have been coming to in search of healing and spiritual comfort. Deep into the old and dense woods, about 1km away from Tuman monastery, there is a famous hermitage of St. Zosim. In the rock domineering the whole area there are two caves connected with a narrow passage. In one of them he lived and in the other one he prayed. Today, there is a chapel at the place where this saint prayed. The caves hide the jewellery and a man almost has never stepped inside. Near the hermitage there is a miraculous spring, and a beautiful waterfall behind in the forest.
HOMOLJE MOUNTAINS present picturesque sceneries of Eastern Serbia, with interesting caves, old legends, customs and myths, hidden treasure, numerous waterflows, waterfalls, rocky mountain tops, ample pastures, mountain viewpoints, lovely villages, vivid folklore and traditional manifestations, friendly local residents and their way of singing pasture songs of the Homolje Mountains. Beljajica Mountain is a favourite hiking and mountain area of the southern Homolje, thanks to a number of marked tracks and the natural treasure of Serbia – the Vinatovača rainforest, the only of that kind in Serbia and this part of Europe. The Vinatovača woods are of rainforest type and are known for beech tree, more than 350 years old. Krupaje Spring, on the western mountain foot of Beljanica, on the right side of the Krupaje River, between the village of Milanovac and Krupaje, some 35km from Žagubica, also presents one of natural rarities and sites of Homolje area. Herds of oxen and horses gallop across mountain pastures of Homolje, while Homolje woods are last resorts of wolves, hogs, deer, bucks and and musk oxen. In Žagubica there is a spring of the Mlava River, one of the deepest springs in Europe, known as an oasis of peace, quiet and pure water.
THE RIVER MLAVA SPRING is a tourist attraction of Homolje. It is located in Žagubica, under the north slopes of Beljanica Mountain, on the altitude of 314m and presents a little lake from which the river Mlava springs. It is located in the natural amphitheatre, which opens into a short valley from which the water flows away to the west. The Mlava spring has a radius of some 30m, and due to its depth, the water is dark green. The teams of divers dived about 74m deep but didn’t reach the bottom, so the depth of this little lake is still unknown.

DAY 7

After breakfast we visit Gornjak monastery. Afterwards we leave for archeological site Viminacium. Time for rest and lunch in the restaurant on the Danube down under the Ram Fortress. Tour of Smederevo Fortress and archeological site Vinča. Arrival in Belgrade, and time for dinner and sleep.

GORNJAK MONASTERY – It was destroyed and burnt to the ground, it was ransacked, the monks taken away, and it would always rise again, near the Mlava, glued to the rocky cliffs of Ježevac Mountain. The monastery, named after the wind called gornjak (mountain wind), which blows across this valley, kept many treasures in its treasure-house: Prince Lazar’s Charter, Serbian Patriarch Spiridon’s Charter, emperor Dušan’s banner, Prince Lazar’s cup, with his initials engraved, etc. Unfortunately, those treasures are long gone from the monastery. A famous Serbian writer Đura Jakšić dedicated it a poem ‘The road to Gornjak’. Gornjak Monastery (earlier called Ždrelo), on a small plateau above the left bank of the Mlava river and under the steep cliffs of Ježevica mountain, the endowment of Prince Lazar. The monastery was built in 1378 when the prince Lazar issued charter on establishment, and patriarch Spiridon confirmed it with his spiritual power. The surrounding nature is so beautiful and picturesque that Đura Jakšić wrote in delight: ‘From the Big Village to Ždrelo, the path is like a fairy’s carpet.’ Feliks Kanic wrote: ’We stopped mesmerized with the abundant idyl of this area where Serbian hermits used to reside.’
According to the saga, recorded in 1867, Gornjak monastery was founded as follows:
The prince Lazar was hunting with this retinue in the mountains, under which the monastery stands today. While hunting in the woods they came across a hermit St. Grigorie, one of a well-known sinaits. The prince wanted to talk to this man, but he didn’t want to cross to the other side of the Mlava River, so they started talking very loudly over hooting river. The prince realized that this was a saint man, as he turned down the river hooting by praying, and managed to talk to the prince without noise. The prince, in the intention to fulfil the wish of this saint and built the temple at this place, he erected the Church of the Presentation of Virgin Mary in Ždrelo, in Braničevo region.
 VIMINACIUM, Kostolac, near Požarevac, on the confluence of the Mlava and the Danube, is one of the most significant Roman towns and military camps from 1st to 6th century. The civilian settlement next to the camp during Hadrian’s reign (117-138) acquired the status of municipium, the city with high level of autonomy. During the reign of Gordian III (239) the city acquired the status of Roman citizen colony, as well as the right to mint local coins. The colony status was the highest a town could acquire within the Roman Empire. Viminatium was chosen as the place of military concentration several times and the starting point in many wars. Being located on the Danube, Viminatium economy developed quickly. Incredible findings discovered in the burrows around the town (over 14,000 tombs have been discovered to date) confirmed the presumptions on the wealth of its citizens, while frescos in tombs present the peak of late Antique art. The town was devastated several times with intrusions of Gothes, Huns and finally Avars. Inside and around the town an amphitheatre, monumental buildings, luxurious thermes and traces of developed infrastructure, primarily streets, aquaducts and waste water system were discovered. The findings discovered to date have undeniably proved the great importance of Viminatium as a leading Roman metropolis on this part of the Danube flow. The scientific-exploration centre Domus Scientiarum in Viminacium is a multipurpose object – in addition to the fact that Serbian and scientists from around the world will use its cabinets, libraries and atriums for explorations, work with students, summer schools, and organization of congress and thematic gatherings – they will also serve for accommodation of tourists whose interest in staying in Viminatium is growing. Domus Scientiarum presents the peak of what archeological tourism can offer, with the unique atmosphere of Antique Rome, where each visitor can be whatever they please – an archeologist, legionary or an emperor.
RAM FORTRESS presents one of the oldest artillery fortifications in Serbia. There are no exact data on the time of its construction, but it was first mentioned in 1128 as the place where Byzantine and Hungarian armies clashed. When the Ottoman Empire reached Serbia, they continued their conquering towards Hungary. Hungarians, Byzantines and Turkish fought for Ram. The first legend on its origin is linked to the founders of Rome, brothers Romul and Rem. Turkish sources called this town Ihram Haram. It is certain that notorious Atilla the Hun, better known as the Scourge of God, resided here in Ram. The story goes that Turkish sultan Bayezid II, while checking on his soldiers, stopped to rest on a hill with a nice view on the Danube and the opposite Hungarian side. While he was sitting on the rug – ihram (Turkish word for a rug), he was said to have fallen asleep. When he woke up, he felt regenerated. Later he ordered the construction of a fortress at the place where he slept on ihram, and was named after it. Based on historical sources, today’s fortress is the piece of work of Bayezid II himself. Chronicles say that Bayezid II (1430-1512) got into the power after Mehmed Pasha death, and restored Ram and Kulec for the needs of firearm fights.
SMEDEREVO FORTRESS is one of the biggest medieval flatland fortressees in Europe and the last large work of Serbian architecture of the time. History is still alive here – a tomb of a noblewoman, with medieval jewellery, was dug here in 2012. Because of this, as well as the fact that the works are still in progress, this is the place that all archeology and history lovers must visit. The Smederevo Fortress comprises of a Big and a Small Town. The Small Town actually comprises of the remnants of what used to be a palace where the despot’s family and aristocracy lived. The Big Town was erected later and was the place where the citizens hid during Turkish quests. There are many legends and saga related to the fortress origin that you can hear from the local residents and tour guides. One of them goes that despot Đurađ Branković had a dream in which he was told that a new town must be built on a river, and thus he later ordered the construction of fortress on the confluence of Jezava River in the Danube. During the town construction the stone was taken from Viminatium, from Kosmaj Mountain and the Ram Fortress on the Danube. Due to the speed of Smederevo Fortress construction, many constructors died of exhaustion while working on this structure. The main culprit was Jerina – the despot Đurađ’s wife who is still referred to as ‘Cursed Jerina’. This is how the legend on the treasure might have been invented, that she buried it somewhere around the fortress with the intention that it could never be found, before the intruders would get into the fortification and conquer it. The excavation works performed on a still mysterious church within the fortress, whose origion is still unknown, the tomb of a still unknown noblewoman was found along with the priceless jewellery. Countless number of vases, ceramics objects and medieval weapons can be seen in a nearby Smederevo Museum.
VINČA – Archeological site Vinča, is located in the village of the same name, on the right Danube bank, near the mouth of Bolečica River, 14 km south-east from Belgrade towards Smederevo. Prehistoric settlement looks like a low hill. Its east side was crossed by the Danube and thus revealed the cultural 10m thick layer, where in an almost straight line nine rows of construction horizons were laid, which are actually layers of the remnants of several settlements dating back to different historical periods. Vinča was populated in the late neolithic, around 5500-5000 BC. Its dwellers lived in half-buried cottages which looked like tents (the settlement of the first layer), and they made dishes of half baked mud, stone weapons and tools. Houses in other eight horizons were rectangular, spacious and made of wood and stone. The conditions for cattle breeding and architecture were very favourable there. At the time (4500 to 3500 AD early neolithic) Vinča baceme a large economic, cultural and religious centre, which had a major influence on the culture of all agricultural communities of the middle and south-east Europe. In the cultural layer on the depth of 4.5m the remnants of houses devastated by fire which revealed that Vinča lost its influence after the discovery of copper. Vinča had been a small settlement all until the beginning of historical period, on a small area. The remnants of an old Serbian cemetery were discovered there dating back to the period of 10th to 13th century. When it comes to archeological findings, most characteristic are tools and weapons made of stone, horns and bones, dishes, luxurious vases, jewellery made of fossile shells, and especially valuable is the rich collection and colorful plastics of cylindric and flat statues. Those objects can serve as the basis for reconstruction of the prehistoric way of life not only in Vinča, but also the cultural history of the whole region through which the Danube flows.

DAY 8

City Sightseeing

BELGRADE is the city where different worlds collide and merge, the city where the traces of antique time merge with medieval and contemporary influences. It was built on the estuary of the river Sava into the Danube. It was destined to be the Balkans centre of cultural and historical happenings. Around the White City many battles have been fought, it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, which consequently created the spirit visible in its architecture, sites, people and its way of life. Every single inch of Old Belgrade hides the remnants from the Roman period. Actually, the first settlement was built by Celts as early as in 3rd century, but it fell under Roman rule in 1st century BC who named it Singidunum. Belgrade is one of the oldest European cities given the fact that its settlements are 7000 years old. Not far from the city centre there is Vinča, the culture older than mesopotamian, dating back to 5 millenium BC and the first few centuries of 4 millenium BC, and it is the one of the technologically most advanced cultures of Bronze Age. Celts called it Singidūn(on), Romans Singidūnum, and afterwards it has many different names, including: Alba Graeca, Alba Bulgarica, Fehérvár, Nandoralba, Nándorfehérvár, Landorfehérvár, Weißenburg and Griechisch-Weißenburg, Castelbianco, Veligrad(i)on or Big City, Dar Al Jihad (the House of War), Belgrat and Prinz Eugen Stadt. However, the name it has kept till the present day is Beograd (Belograd), first mentioned in 878 in the letter of Pope John VIII to the emperor Boris Bugarski. In the city centre, under St. Marko Church, on Tašmajdan, there is a real cave. Even during Roman time stone was excavated from the Shalitra cave, which was most often used for sarcophaguses making later found at different locations across Belgrade. Kalemegdan used to be a fortification (kale) and a battlefield (megdan), and at the present time it is the place of exceptional cultural and historical significance, a park and opservation deck, the zoo and playground, the place where many concerts are held, etc. One of many unusual Belgrade traditions date back to 19th century when people gathered in Slavija to hunt ducks and other wild birds. The place of today’s Slavija used to ba a marsh which was part of an estate bought by Scot Frensis Mekenzi in 1878. The St. Sava Temple in Vračar is one of the most remarkable Belgrade symbols. With 70m high central dome and 12m high golden cross, this magnificent cathedral is 87m high and as such presents the biggest Serbian temple, the biggest Orthodox temple on the Balkans and one of the biggest Orthodox churches in the world. Would you believe if we told you that battles in 115 wars have been fought around Belgrade and that it was obliterated even 44 times. Due to its strategic location on the mouth of two rivers, between the East and the West, the White City has always been the scene of historical happenings. It was doomed to be conquered and destroyed by Celts, Romans, Goths, Hunes, Turks, as well as to be competed for between Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empire. However, Belgrade rose from ashes every time. There is Avala mountain in its immediate surroundings, which is a favorite picnic area of the city residents. The other favourite place is Ada Ciganlija lake – the promenade and beach made built around river lake, the best place for refreshment during hot summer days.

 

HERE YOU CAN SEE GALLERY "THROUGHOUT EASTERN SERBIA"