Get your gear on and start exploring Serbia in spring

The long, arduous winter is finally over and the time has come to stop hibernating and start exploring again. Why not take advantage of the blossoming nature and head into the wilderness for a trek. Or do some canyoning… Or spend a few days indulging in the perks of rural tourism… Or do whatever you feel like it as long as you remove yourself from the city.

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As always, we are here to give you a few suggestions that we think you might like.

1.Ethno-village Koštunići

The Koštunići village is situated on the southern slopes of the Mount Suvobor and it is the largest village in the municipality of Gornji Milanovac, Central Serbia. Four mountain rivers flow through this picturesque village – the Grab, the Bukovača, the Čemernica and the Šiban. The village itself has cozy cottages right on the lake and restaurants that serve sumptuous traditional Serbian dishes.

The complex also has tennis courts, a beach volleyball court, a football pitch, cycling lanes, and even a zoo, spanning 2 hectares of land, where you can see ponies, mouflons, alpine goats, and sheep. The village has several artisan shops and an organic food factory, founded by army general Jovan Čeković who has also initiated the revitalization programme for Serbian villages. The factory produces various kinds of fruit brandy, marmalade and fruit jams, honey, dried mushrooms and dried fruit.

As for the attractions outside Koštunići, there is Ovčar Banja, located at 279 metres altitude, that has wells with slightly sulfurised mineral water known for its medicinal properties, ten Serbian Orthodox monasteries with the oldest one dating from 1476, the house where the legendary First World War general, Živojin Mišić was born, and the house where Milos Obrenovic, Prince of Serbia from 1815 to 1839, and again from 1858 to 1860 who led Serbs in the First and Second Serbian Uprising, was born.

Distance from Belgrade: 110km

2.On the trail of the Nemanjić Royal Family

Here is a crash course in history that will tell you a bit about the first royal family in Serbia. The Nemanjić Royal Family was the most important dynasty of Serbia in the Middle Ages. The royal house produced eleven Serbian monarchs between 1166 and 1371. Its progenitor was Stefan Nemanja, who descended from a cadet line of the Vukanović dynasty (1101–1166). Serbia reached its height of power during the Nemanjić dynasty. The Serbian Kingdom was proclaimed in 1217, leading to the establishment of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1219. In the same year Saint Sava published the first constitution in Serbia: St. Sava’s Nomocanon. Tsar Stefan Dušan proclaimed the Serbian Empire in 1346. During Dušan’s rule, Serbia reached its territorial, political, and economical peak, proclaiming itself as the successor of the Byzantine Empire, and was the most powerful Balkan state of that time.

Now, wouldn’t you like to see firsthand how they lived and travel back in time to Raška County, in South-Western Serbia, where it all started? The first stop on your Nemanjić tour should be the picturesque Žiča monastery where all important kings of Serbia were crowned and which was the seat of the first Serbian archbishopric.

After Žiča, head down to the valley of the Ibar River and Maglič Fortress which has spectacular views of the Stolovi Mountain. Continue down the Valley of Lilacs, to the Studenica Monastery. The legend has it that the Valley of Lilacs was named by the Serbian King, Stefan Uroš (13th century) who was so besotted with his future bride, the French princess Helen of Anjou, that he planted lilacs, her favourite flowers, all around the valley.

The Studenica Monastery, founded in the 12th century, is one of the biggest and wealthiest Serbian monasteries, that is home to an incredibly valuable collection of the Byzantine frescoes. While here, you should also definitely visit the Church of St Peter where Stefan Nemanja accepted Orthodox faith, and thus changed the course of the entire Serbian history.

The Mileševa Monastery should also be on your “to see” list. Here, you will be able to see the famous White Angel fresco, dated 1235.  A picture of the White Angel of Mileševa was sent as a message in the first satellite broadcast signal from Europe to America after the Cuban Missile Crisis, as a symbol of peace and civilization. Later, the same signal, containing the White Angel, was transmitted to space in an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life forms.

Distance from Belgrade: 240km

3.Night ascension to the Rtanj Mountain on Vidovdan

The Rtanj Mountain, located in Eastern Serbia, is considered one of the more mysterious mountains to explore since it has been claimed that it has mystical powers. The mountain became world-famous for its pyramidal shape which made it a target of various cultists who believe that it emits special, healing energy. The British sci-fi writer, Arthur C. Clark called Rtanj’s peak a place of “peculiar energy”, and likened it to “the navel of the world”.

The legend has it that a wizard lived in a great castle at its summit, guarding a hoard of buried treasure. The castle is long gone and is now replaced by St George’s Church. The mountain is also famed for its ‘Rtanj tea’, made from the savory herb and praised as a powerful aphrodisiac.

Speleologists have found that there are huge underground rooms and more than 17 caves in the mountain. It has three peaks – Kusak, Baba and Šiljak – which, when connected by an imaginary line, form a triangle which sides are 5 and 6 km long.

Every year, the Šiljak mountaineering club organizes the climb to the top of the Rtanj on 24th and 25th June. The climb starts at midnight and by morning you will be able to sit on the mountain’s summit and watch the sun come out.

Distance from Belgrade: 230km

Photo Credits: UTUS (Koštunići), Wikimedia, AirBnB.cz

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