SERBIA - from Belgrade
Day 1: Departure Belgrade - Monastery Manasija - Monastery Ravanica - Nis
Day 1: Belgrade – Manasija – Ravanica - Nis
We will leave Belgrade in the morning by driving south into the area of central Serbia. Our first visit will be Monastery Manasija, founded by Despot Stefan Lazarević in the first half of the 15th century. This monastery has the best preserved medieval fortification in the country. Its high defensive walls were once additionally protected by 12 towers and a series of hanging machicolations. This fortified area still contains the ruins of the old Refectory, the reconstructed monastic residence with a valuable private library, and the Church of the Holy Trinity with its exceptionally fine fresco paintings.
A short scenic drive away is Monastery Ravanica monastery, founded by the Serbian Prince Lazar in the second half of the 14th century. This is the most typical example of what is called the Morava School of Serbian medieval architecture. The monastery's five-domed Church of the Ascension displays rather badly damaged but very fine frescoes. A transparent coffin in the church contains relics of the great and highly devoted Prince Lazar, killed in the battle of Kosovo in 1389 and soon afterwards declared a saint.
In the evening we will arrive to Niš.
Overnight Niš – Hotel Regent Club 4* (B)
Day 2: Niš - Naissus/Mediana – Vrnjacka Banja
Today we will get to know Niš, the second largest town in Serbia. This city is most famous as the birthplace of Constantine the Great. It is situated in the Nišava valley, near the spot where it joins the Južna Morava River, one of the most important Balkan and European traffic lines along which peoples, goods and armies moved. Known as the 'Via Militaris' in Roman and Byzantine periods and the 'Constantinople road' in the Middle Ages and the period of Turkish rule, these roads still represent major European traffic arteries. Niš is one of the oldest cities in the Balkans, and has from ancient times been considered a gateway between the East and the West. There is abundant archaeological evidence that Niš was inhabited even in prehistoric times. The city was named after the Nišava River, which was called Navissos by the Celtic inhabitants of the town. Each new conqueror gave the town a new name: Roman Naissus, Byzantine Nysos, Slovene Niš, or German Nissa.
We will see Niš Fortress, a complex and very important cultural and historical monument that dominates the urban nucleus of the city. The existing fortification is of Turkish origin, dating from the first decades of the 18th century. It is known as one of the most significant and best preserved monuments of this kind in the Balkans.
Also we will visit Mediana, a royal property with a luxurious residence, placed in the suburb of the antique Niš, known as Naissus. Constantine the Great (280 - 337 AD) was born and raised in Naissus. He ruled the Eastern Roman Empire from 306 to 337 and he consolidated the frontiers of the Empire by imposing a firm organization on the Army and the civil administration. As a powerful emperor, Constantine did not forget his birthplace. He erected a majestic residence in one of the luxurious suburbs of ancient Niš in Mediana, where he often resided and attended to state affairs. Historical records testify it was in Naissus that he passed several laws in the years 315 through 334.
At the beginning of the 19th century it was crucial that the Serbian state liberate Niš from the Turks. In 1809, the strong Serbian insurrection army of 16.000 soldiers, created six trenches for defense near Niš. The Turks attacked the main trench on Čegar Hill. The battle lasted the whole day. As one witness stated, "the Turks attacked five times, and the Serbs managed to repulse them five times. Each time their losses were great. Some of the Turks attacked, and some of them went ahead, and thus when they attacked for the sixth time they filled the trenches with their dead so that the alive went over their dead bodies and they began to fight against the Serbs with their rifles, cutting and sticking in their enemies with their sabers and knives”. The Turks eventually overran the main trench on Čegar Hill after this fierce fighting. Casualties were heavy on both sides, with the Serbs losing three thousand soldiers and the Turks nearly twice this number.
After the battle of Čegar Hill, the skulls of the dead Serbian soldiers were built in a tower, called The Skull Tower, on the route to Constantinople. It was done by order of the Turkish pasha Hurshid, the brutal Turkish commander of Niš at that time. Rectangular in its base and three meters high, Skull Tower was built out of 952 skulls of the Serbian heroes as a warning to the Serbian people.
In 1892, a chapel was built over the skulls, which now protects the 58 remaining skulls. Skull Tower is a unique monument in the world, and it faithfully depicts the true nature of the Turkish crimes against the Serbian people.
Overnight in Vrnjacka Banja – Hotel Aleksandar 4* (B)
Day 3: Vrnjacka Banja – Šargan Eight Train – Zlatibor/Sirogojno
This morning we will take a nostalgic journey by the old steam engine “Šarganska Osmica” for 15km, crossing breathtaking scenery through 20 tunnels, 10 bridges and across many viaducts. Once, this narrow gauge train, affectionately known as the Ćira (Chira), used to be the only traveling solution for the people of the area. The train cut its path through the astonishing landscapes of Serbia and Bosnia, on its way from Belgrade to Sarajevo, and further on to Dubrovnik. Now it is possible to ride a 15km part of it, famous for its curves in the shape of the number 8 that made it possible to climb the steep slopes of the mountains Šargan and Mokra Gora. The track was reconstructed in 1999. During the ride, the train makes a few stops, one of which lasts 20 minutes to let you take some fabulous photographs, enjoy the views, or have a refreshment in the cafe of a tiny and charming 'railway station'.
Overnight at Sirogojno - Hotel Ethno village “Staro Selo” “Special” (B, D)
Day 4: Ethno village Sirogojno – Novi Sad
Our first visit today will be to the unique and very charming ethno village of Sirogojno. It is an open-air museum of traditional architecture, as well as an exhibition of handicrafts and world famous hand-knitted clothes.
Continuing our journey we will descend from Mount Zlatibor, one of the most popular mountain resorts in Serbia, both in summer as well as winter. Zlatibor is a National Park famous for its beauty and intact nature. It is a mountain of golden pines, after which it got its name (Zlatan - golden, Bor – pine tree). A short drive through the beautiful countryside will take us into an area where the vegetation will change its look, giving you the impression that you are in a jungle. Here you can find unique flora and fauna, such as the Omorica, the rarest of the pine trees endemic to this area. We will drive through Serbian countryside and cross river Sava into the region of Vojvodina.
Overnight Novi Sad - Hotel Central Garni 4* (B)
Day 5: Novi Sad – Petrovaradin Fort - Sremski Karlovci – Fruška Gora - Belgrade
We will start our day today with the tour of Novi Sad, one of the biggest cities of Serbia and is a capital of the region of Vojvodina. It is a modern, lively city with lot of growing businesses, but at the same time, with a beautiful taste of the past. We will have a walking tour of the very center of modern Novi Sad to the main Orthodox Cathedral, main Catholic Cathedral, and then continue to have a walk on the famous Dunavska street.
Exiting Novi Sad we will first visit its famous fortress of Petrovaradin, built in the 17 and 18th centuries, and once called "Gibraltar on the Danube". This Austrian artillery fortification is situated above the river and represents the second largest structure of its kind preserved in Europe. Built by Austrians at the spot of former Roman, Byzantine and Hungarian settlements, the fortress plays a very important role in life of the town even today, as many cultural events are organized there.
Our next stop will be Sremski Karlovci. It is a picturesque baroque town, which was a Serbian religious and educational centre in 18th and 19th century. There, we will enjoy the Baroque-style fountain from 1790 and the Karlovci High School. This site dates from the end of the 19th century and contains decorative elements reminiscent of mediaeval Serbian buildings. We will also visit the Patriarch's Palace, once the most imposing building in the whole region, as well as the Cathedral from the mid-18th century, and many others.
We will treat ourselves today with lunch in typical “charda”, a small restaurant usually built to float on the river, which serve great freshwater fish specialties.
Our next visit will be to the region of Fruška Gora - the only hill in the entire Panonia Valley. Located on the slopes of this hill are 17 medieval monasteries which for several centuries represented the spiritual center of the region and are often labeled as the Serbian Mt. Athos. We will visit Monastery Krušedol, founded in the 16th century and known for its attractive location, historical importance, and a variety of decorative frescos in its church.
In the evening we will return to Belgrade. (B)
B - Breakfast L – Lunch D – Dinner
All hotels are carefully chosen for their character or best central location or they are simply the only option at certain destinations. All of them can be changed on a request. The categories mentioned by the hotel names are according to the local standards and sometimes do not reflect to Western standards
Trip organized by: “BALKAN EXPERT” d.o.o. license no. OTP 54/2013
Tour available with general condition of travel of “BALKAN EXPERT”