Nataional park Tara – the queen of the mountains in Serbia

Lazici lake Tara

The Tara National Park in the mountainous region of western Serbia was designated a national park in 1981. The 19,200-hectare park, with administrative offices in Bajina Basta, is spread out over a group of mountain peaks in the Tara, Crni vrh, Stolac and Zvezda ranges,  the Canyon of Drina with Perucac  and outskirts of Bajina Basta. National park covers a large bend in the Drina River bordering Bosnia.

Tara is one of the famous mountains in Serbia to visit during the summer, so local gave it a name “queen of mountains”. Known for its beautiful peaks, thick forests, and deep caves, the park’s highlight is the massive Drina River Gorge, where rafting and boat trips are organized. The park is home to the rare Pancic Spruce (Picea omorica), which dates to the pre-historic Tertiary era. Also in its forests are many varieties of wild animals. Waterfalls within the national park are also part of its impressive beauty along the course of mountain rivers and streams.

Banjska rock viewpoint

The Tara National Park can be reached from Bajina Basta directly (by the Bajina Bašta – Kaluđerske Bare road), from Bajina Basta via Perucac (by the Perucac – Mitrovac road) and from Kremna (the Kremna – Kaludjerske Bare road).

Favourable climate conditions, lot of sunny days, average altitude about 1000m and nature beauties enable pleasant sojourn, walking and trekking. Lake Perucac on river Drina and Lake Zaovine in Beli Rzav valley are very convenient for water sports, mountain slopes for winter sports and variety of game for hunting tourism.

Perucac lake

There are three tourist facilities with accommodation in the park, at Kaludjerske Bare with two hotels, at Predov krst (hunters lodge) and at Mitrovac, where there is a well-known children’s camp.

Drvengrad: (Serbian Cyrillic: Drvengrad, meaning Timber Town), also known as Küstendorf and Mećavnik is a traditional village that the Serbian film director Emir Kusturica built for his film Life Is a Miracle. It is located in the Zlatibor District near the city of Užice, two hundred kilometers southwest of Serbia’s capital, Belgrade. It is located near Mokra Gora and Višegrad, best known for Ivo Andrić’s Nobel-winning novel, The Bridge on the Drina. Kusturica was the 2005 recipient of the Philippe Rotthier European Architecture award.

Drvengrad is also known as Küstendorf, as a word play on German “dorf” (village) and Kusturica’s nickname, “Kusta”. Also, “Küste” is German for coast. Kusturica has also been known to call it Mećavnik, which is the name of the neighbouring village.

Wooden town Mecavnik in Mokra Gora

Drvengrad has a library, named the Ivo Andrić Library; an artist gallery named Macola in honor of sculptor Dragan Jovićević (it was previously known as Anika, after a character from Ivo Andrić’s prose); Stanley Kubrick Cinema; a main house which houses a cinema-hall in the cellar, a living room, a guest room, a closed yard, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, a sauna and private rooms for the Kusturica family; a sports hall; a restaurant; a cake shop, as well as a souvenir shop; and finally, a Church dedicated to St. Sava.

The streets in the village bear the names of various individuals that Kusturica holds in high esteem or finds to be personally significant: Nikola Tesla, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Diego Maradona, Miodrag Petrović Čkalja, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Joe Strummer, Novak Đoković and of course, Ivo Andrić, after whom the main street is named.

Narrow gauge railway:  The Sargan Eight is a narrow gauge railroad (heritage railroad, actually) that runs from the nice-looking village of Mokra Gora to the nearby Sargan station. The ride forms an ’8′ form, and hence the name – Sargan Eight. It’s a very picturesque ride, considered by many to be the best train rides in Europe. The climb over the Sargan Mountain was an engineering masterpiece.  From Uzice to the summit the height difference was 240 metres.  As the crow flies it was 3.5 Km but by rail it was 15.4 Km.  The average gradient was 18% (1 in 55) and there were 20 tunnels including the summit tunnel of 1,666m. Construction began on March 1st 1921 and, despite many setbacks, the section opened on 2nd February 1925.  The final 40 Km missing link between Belgrade and Obrenovac opened on 30th October 1928 and a through 76 cm railway now existed over the 444 Km from Belgrade to Sarajevo.

Sargan Eight railroad

Zlatibor mountain resort

Zlatibor mountain is the most popular touristic destination in West Serbia region whic is well known in Serbia by its beatiful nature and amazing landscapes. Name ZLATIBOR (ZLATI=golden, BOR=pine) means “Golden Pine”. On Zlatibor you can see many pine trees and that’s the reason why people called this beautiful Serbian mountain as “Golden Pine Mountain”.

The Zlatibor Mt. is situated in the southwestern part of Serbia at the height from 700 to 1496 m above sea level (the highest peak is Tornik). The everage height of Mt. Zlatibor is about 1000 m above sea level. It is intersected by numerous rivers, streams and ravines.

Three highest peaks of Zlatibor massif are: Tornik (1.496m) – the highest peak of Zlatibor, Brijach (1.480m) and Chigota (1.422m). Basis of Mt. Zlatibor is a spacious wavy plateau intersected by rivers and mountain streams and overgrown by thick grass and conifer tree forest. It is situated 27km away from Uzice town. Territory of Zlatibor massif is more than 350 square km big, 30 km long and 12 km wide. The central Zlatibor plateau is about 1000 m high in average, and there are a few easily visible peaks in the surrounding. Zlatibor as a geographical unit encircles the territory between the rivers Susica and Uvac and the eastern slopes of Mt. Tara and western slopes of Mt. Murtenica. The villages Kremna and Mokra Gora belong to it in the northwest, Mt. Murtenica, Zlatibor piedmont area, that forms a pass towards the nearby Tara and the Sandzak mountains, belong to it in the southeast.

Touristic concept of Zlatibor include the vast plateau 30 km long and 12 km wide, which spreads from northwest towards southeast, bordered by the mountain peaks of Gradina, Crni Vrh, Cigota, Murtenica, Tornik, Cavlovac, Vijogor and the upper course of the river Susica. On this place touristic settlements like Ribnica, Kraljeva Voda, Palisad, Oko and Cajetina started developing at the end of last and the beginning of this century.
The micro climate is very special here – there is a great number of sunny days during the year (more then 200), and the “rose of the winds” is flowering exactly above Zlatibor. Zlatibor is famous as an air spa where mountain and sea streams collide. The summers are hot and the winters are mild. It rains relatively often and there is a snow from October to May.

Zlatibor is declared as a therapeutic region, for all acute and chronic diseases of respiration organs, of thyroid gland, of all kinds of anemia , etc. The stay on Zlatibor is recommended for convalescence after infectious diseases and surgical operations too. Zlatibor is, first of all, an extraordinary beautiful mountain, with a pleasant climate, with spacious sloping grounds, rich pasture-grounds and mountain peaks. There are about 1000 square km of meadows and risings, sloping grounds and dry grounds, abysses and chasms…

Nature was generous with Mt. Zlatibor giving it its beautiful scenery, rolling heights overgrown with pine, fir, and spruce forests here and there, vast meadows decorated with white narcissuses and other colourful flowers, very pleasant and mild climate, a great number of sunny days, unpolluted air and other amenities.
Owing to specific climate to harmonius relationship among wooded areas and spacious meadows covered with streams, unpolluted air, healthy and clear water, a great number of sunny days, wonderful ski terrains, characteristical air streams (continental and mediteranian), its suitable sea level hight, the most wanderful landscape, friendly hosts… Zlatibor has developed into a famous summer and winter tourist resort with the longest tourist tradition in Serbia. Current capacity of tourist objects is 6500 beds. Unofficially about 130.000 visitors spend about 600.000 nights on Zlatibor a year (in hotels, rest homes as well as in private rooms).

Mountain peaks

Tornik view

A description of Mt. Zlatibor peaks from the book “On the fragrant Mt. Zlatibor”, written by Sreta A. Popovich, published in Belgrade in the year 1908: “…Putting aside those braids of mountain saddles and hights we notice immediatelly, that on the very top of Zlatibor, in Dobroselica, Tornik (1496 m) raises proudly, decorated by a thick coniferous forest. On the north there is Sargan across which a road leads from Uzice to Bosnia and Hercegovina, and where the remainders of a Turkish bridge are still standing. On the southeast there is Murtenica, a famous mountain 60 km in the scope, richest with forests. It consists of many parts with special names and it is overgrown with fir forest, pine forest and hasel grove at the borders. On the northwest side of Zlatibor plateau there is Gruda with its stunted forests of cerris, oak and hornbeam and there is a nice view of Zlatibor from there. Another bigger peak is Gradina above Cajetina. As the air is as clear as crystal our glance pointed towards the southwest exceeds the present borders of Serbia and stops at the magnificent top of Durmitor. Komovi is to the south and we can recognise the blue shape of Sar Planina on the southeast. Let’s turn now towards the southeast. The mountains Ovcar and Kablar are in front of us and they seem to be so near that you could throw a stone to them. To the right, from Rudnik a big crest of mountain branches off and Bukulja, Kosmaj and Avala raise there.” Mt. Zlatibor plateau inclines towards the north and northwest, which caused that all the water flows off to the Black Sea basin by the Drina, the Djetinja and the Moravica. The rivers and streams are rich with various kinds of fish such as chub, gudgeon, traut, “mladica” and “lipljan”. The strong river Uvac with its deep river bed and very nice canyons flows through the southern part of Zlatibor. Its tributaries are: the Shupljica in Negbina, the Rasnicki Potok (brook) in Rasnica, the Dobroselicki and the Sharanski potok in Dobroselica, and the Tisovica at Ojkovica. The Uvac flows into the Lim and later into the Drina. Crni Rzav has its headwaters under the northwestern parts of Mt. Murtenica in Carevo Polje and flows through the central part of mt. Zlatibor plateau. On some parts there are some very beautiful and interesting canyons. Its tributaries are: the Ribnica, Obudovica, Bele Vode, Jablanicka Reka. It joins the Beli Rzav and they form the Rzav which flows into the Drina. There are no other rivers in the northern part of Mt.Zlatibor except the Sushica, that has got its name because its water disapears into limestone during the summer. Its source is under Gruda and it flows into the Djetinja. The biggest tributaries are Dzambica Potok, Grabovica, Kriva Reka, Prijanski Potok and the Balashica. Veliki Rzav flows along the eastern border of Zlatibor. Its tributaries are: Bela Reka, Ljubishnica, Katushnica with its two tributaries the Rakovichki and the Gostiljski Potok (where there is the waterfall from the picture, located behind the football field), and the Prishtavica with the Ponor.

The Lakes

On Mt. Zlatibor there are two artificial lakes: The bigger one is in Ribnica on the river Crni Rzav. Its area is about 10 square km. It’s rich with all kinds of fish, such as: chub, gudeon, traut, carp, tench and sheatfish.
In the very centre of the tourist town Zlatibor, the smaller lake, intended for tourist needs, is situated. It is surrounded by pleasant paths and benches for the visitors to have a rest. In summer they can swim and sunbathe there, and they can skate on its icy surface in winter (it is called “The Zlatibor Sea”).

AuRibnica lake

Author: Nevena Kukoljac

Legends about Zlatibor

There are three legends about the origin of today’s name Zlatibor ( ZLATI-BOR: zlato=gold, bor=pine tree): By the first one Zlatibor is supposed to get its name by white pine trees with yellow conifer (the colour of old gold), which used to cover the rolling slopes of Zlatibor. There has only one such tree remained (in the village of Negbina) and it was given the scientific name Pinus silvestris variegata Zlatiborica, by eng. Omanovich, who studied those conifer trees. In the second it is said that Zlatibor got its name because it was so rich with pine tree forests, that the immigrants from Montenegro and Hercegovina boasted: “It is really a pine tree made of gold!” The third legend says that it got its name by the mountain pastures, that get a yellow, a golden colour in autumn. Which of these legends is the right one make a decision by yourselves! Or, better come to Zlatibor, maybe you’ll hear a new version in the song of Zlatibor pine trees!

History

The first inhabitants of Zlatibor region were the Illyrians, namely their tribe Partyiny. The remnants of their culture -ornamental ceramics are being met in the caves and steep hights, where they used to live. Today these places are called “gradine” and there are three on Zlatibor (chajetinska, krivorechka, shljivovichka). In the museum collection of the library in Chajetina we can see some fragments of pottery with the characteristic decorative design engraved into the clay by a finger nail. The culture and life of the Illyrians have been studied exclusively from the “tumulus” (the tombs), which are found on Zlatibor in a great number on various locations (Krivorechka Gradina (the place Vishevina), Kremna, a wider area from Ljubish to Mushvet, Braneshko Polje).

At the beginning of our epoch the Romans dominate in this region with their culture much higher than the previous one.They build new fortreses, a net of new roads (Machkat – Chajetinska Gradina -the river Uvac). The Roman tombstones date the second and the third century A.D. Most of them are in Kremna and there are reliefs inspired by the motives from the nature and sometimes by God Atis – in the figure of a nice youth.

After the 9th century these places are being settled by the Slovenes, who also build fortreses and rebuild “gradine”. There’s a very interesting fortress on Gradac in Dobroselica, where we can see the remnants of a bulwark. There are some remnants of a stone pedestal in the shape of a bench that was probably used for observing. There are also some animal bones found built in the base (probably for religious reasons) and there is a lot of medieval material found on this location (a top of a spear, a knife, a copper ring…).

About the year 1180 Serbian King Stevan Nemanja connects Zlatibor and Uzice town to the independant Serbian state.
In the 16th century The unpreserved monastery Rujno was the cultural and educational centre of the former district (zhupa) Rujno. In that monastery one of the first Serbian printing shops worked. Recently the position of the former monastery Uvac (and maybe also of the Church Janja – being sung about in folk songs) has been discovered in Stublo on the river Uvac. According to traditional stories the monastery was that “Church Janja”, which was the richest far around. The monastery possesed beautiful and good pastures above the valley on Orlic and Orahovica. Milk from there was transported to monastery by boats. The canals in which the boats were placed can still be identified. Thanks to researching and and work of the National museum in Uzice the monastery Uvac has been reestablished and the church with the “konak” (the overnight stay) have been rebuilt and sanctified. The church in Bela Reka is worth being mentioned among the old churches on Zlatibor. It has unusually small dimensions. It has only one nave and one cupola.

Etno Culture

On Zlatibor characteristic churches “brvnare” (log cabins) were built, some of which still exist in Dobroselica and Jablanica. In many Zlatibor villages there are places called “crkvine” on which, according to tradition, wooden churches existed. It is supposed that some of them were being burnt by the Turks during the period of 1st Serbian rebellion like those in Mokra Gora and Kuchani, while the others, which survived the Turkish reign, became ruins because of their old age. The churches in Sirogojno, Chajetina, Ljubish, Machkat, Negbina and Shljivovica are ofrecent date.

Flora

Characteristics of vegetation on Zlatibor on its serpentine ground is given by the forest community of Pinetum nigrae silvestris and vast pastures. That enables a great choise of interesting, rare and medicinal herbs. Some of them are:
~Gentiana lutea -“lincura” – medicinal (stomach problems)
~Teuricium montanum – “trava iva, ivica, gorski cmilj” – a medicinal herb (it is said: ” …this herb makes a dead man alive again”). It is antiseptic, it is good for stomach and intestine diseases.
~Achillea millefolium-“hajducka trava”- medicinal and good for honey
~Thymus serpyllum -“majcina dusica”- it has a calming and salutary effect
~Centarium erythraea -“kicica”- it improves digestion
~Symphytum officiale l.-“gaves”-for healing wounds and bone fractures
~Sorbus aucuparia L.-“jarebika”- a nice decorative bush or a tree
~Narcissus poeticus -“narcis”, “zelenkada”- decorative meadow flowers
Endemic sorts:
~Halacsya sendtueri – “cvakija”
~Verbascum bosnense – “divisma”
~Haplophyllum boissieranum – “rutvaca”
A note: Some plants on Zlatibor are on the way to die out and they are under protection of the state,therefore citizens of Zlatibor are kindly asking all the visitors of Zlatibor to pick only as many plants as they need for their medicine.
Mushrooms: Besides the plants nature lovers can also find pleasure in picking mushrooms. The most frequent on these terrains are:
~Macrolepiota promineus -“suncanica”- (in high pine forests)
~Lactarius deliciosus -“rujnica”-(in young pine forests)
~Suillus granulatus -“vucji hleb”,”slinavka”-(on the borders of pine forests)
~Coprinus comatus -“gnojistarka”-(on moist fertilized meadows).

Food

You shouldn’t left Zlatibor without tasting traditional ham, cheese cream called “kajmak”, cheese pie and of course a glass of sljivovica – famous Serbian rakia from plum.

Uvac canyon and meanders

Nature of the Zlatar mountain and Uvac lakes and meandres has said ”no“ to the civilization which litters and destroys. The air here is beneficial, forests are powerful and fragrant, waters are crystal clear and sceneries endless. Griffon vulture, a bird which will not enter polluted areas, flies the sky over the Zlatar mountain. Human heart beats calmer in this golden mountain; here it finds the cure and recovery. This mountain is the place where our grandmas’ dishes are prepared and where people sing in a full voice to make it echo in the vast space. As a rule, only originals are to be found in Zlatar, no copies whatsoever.

There are nice hotels here as well as various contents, tourism has a long tradition. The miraculous Uvac Canyon, with its one-of-a-kind river meanders and griffon vulture, the king of the sky, flying above, definitely attracts the attention of visitors. Construction of a dam on the Uvac has created the lakes of Uvac, Zlatar and Radoinje, 63 kilometers long in total. You can freshen up swimming in these lakes or cross them in a boat or taste trout from these lakes. The attraction is Cave Bukovik as well as the Ušac Cave System, the longest one in this country.

 

Nis – Constantin the Great birthplace

The third Serbian city by size, after Belgrade and Novi Sad, Nis is cultural, economic, commercial and university seat of southeast Serbia with 13 faculties.

One of the oldest European cities, as testified by numerous prehistoric finds on the territory of the city (Bubanj and Velika humska čuka) long known as “the east/west gateway” since it is situated at a crossroads connecting Europe with the Middle East. Surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges of Mt. Suva Planina, Svrljiške Planine and Mt. Seličevica.

The birthplace of the famous Roman emperor Constantine the Great who issued the Edict of Milan in 313 embracing Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire.

 

Legend of Fairy Town

A legend of Fairy town began more than 2.300 years ago, when Celtic tribes from the North of Europe settled the territory of the Balkans. At the beginning of the 3rd century BCE one of the tribes arrived to the south, to the Nišava River. Captured by the beauty of the river, the green basin and the mountains, they decided to build a town on one of the banks.

The legend says that the town was so beautiful and important that is was a frequent target of attacks of surrounding tribes, who used to plunder, burn and often raze it to the ground. When the Celts came to realize that they would not last for long, they praised gods and asked for protection. The gods sent them fairies and told them: “We cannot stop human anger and destruction, but we shell rebuild your town with heavenly force and each morning it will shine in its glory.”

Then, divine fairies made the river their dwelling and the city got their protectors. Whenever enemies would destroy it, the fairies would come out of the river under the cover of night and used their magic to restore its strong walls, high towers, streets and squares. As a token of their appreciation, the Celts named the river “Fairy River” (Naisa), and their town “Fairy Town” (Navissos).

The town and the river haven’t changed their names since then – the Romans called it Naissus, it was Nusos for the Byzantines, and the Slavs named it Niš, so this legend of fairies still lives in its name today.

 

Story of a Great Imperator and His Birth Town

At the time when the story of Constantine the Great begins, ancient Naisus (present-day Niš) was a central place of the Roman province of Upper Moesia. Small according to the number of inhabitants (20.000) but important as a commercial, military and administrative center, Naisus developed fast and expanded beyond the walls of the Fortress. So, already in the 3rd century BC, it became a municipium and was given the right of self-governance. The city center, which was located in the area of the present-day Fortress, was built in accordance with the principles of Roman urbanism. A central part was a sumptuous square (forum), decorated with statues of Roman gods and surrounded with administration and military buildings, workshops and a basilica. The remains of some buildings from this period can be still seen today in Niš Fortress (a lapidarium, termae, a building with arches, an ancient street and a Palace with an Octagon).

One of the greatest statesmen in European history, Constantine the Great was born on February 27, 274 in Naisus. Constantine’s father, Constantius Chlorus was a Roman officer of high rank, born in Dacia (today East Serbia), and his mother, Helena was a daughter of an innkeeper from Bithynia in Asia Minor. They met in the inn of Helena’s father during Constantius’ military campaign in Asia Minor. The love between them overcame class barriers, so Constantius married Helena and came with her in Naisus. Out of that love, their son Flavius Valerius Constantinus was born.

Constantine spent his early childhood in his birth town. His father provided education and military training worthy of a future emperor, and mother Helena, a pious and dignified woman, instilled love for a new religion – Christianity – into him. Owning to that, he became a wise warrior and ruler who followed his own path of success with unmistakable intuition.

Constantine the Great will be remembered as a statesman, military leader and visionary who, during his reign (306-337) left an indelible mark in the history of Europe and Christianity. He was a reformer who made significant changes in the military and the administration thus making the Roman Empire stronger. Also, he was a visionary who laid the foundation of the future Byzantine Empire by founding Constantinople. As the man of an open spirit and strong faith, he gave freedom of belief to prosecuted Christians, and made a contribution so that Christianity would become one of the most widely spread religions of the contemporary world.

Although he left his hometown after his childhood, Constantine never forgot it. When he became an emperor, he decorated it richly, and he built a sumptious residence in its suburb – Mediana.

As the first Christian emperor, great benefactor and ktetor of the Christian Church, Constantine was canonized after his death, and the Orthodox Churches venerate him as a saint and the “isapostolos Emperor” (Emperor Equal of the Apostles). Each year on June 3, the Serbian Orthodox Church and the City of Niš celebrate a holyday dedicated to Constantine and his mother Helena.

Constantine the great