THE CULTURAL TREASURE of SERBIA
PREHISTORY ON SERBIA’S LAND
More than forty thousand years ago, humans inhabited the basins of the big rivers and the fertile lowlands of Serbia. During this period, the land became the home for the first civilizations and the oldest cultural centre in Europe.
The Danube River, on whose banks primordial settlers found safety, and whose flow – the oldest European artery – connected those settlers’ communities, played a crucial role. To the Danube basin’s communities of fishermen and land-tillers, the river was life itself; a quick way of communication and transportation; the first trading road and provided the direction in which culture flowed. Ancient myths of the origin of the world are connected with the Danube; the first monumental art in Europe (the fishlike deities of Lepenski Vir) were created there, and a metropolis of the Stone Age (Vinča) - the most glittering culture of European prehistory was developed here.
Risovača Cave, near Aranđelovac, 74 km to the south of Belgrade, preserves the oldest traces of life of the prehistoric people who inhabited the soil of Serbia during the Palaeolithic period. In the cave, numerous fossil remnants of prehistoric animals, traces of the use of fire, as well as tools made of roughly chiseled stone and bones were discovered. Those objects are exhibited at the Museum in Aranđelovac and in the cave itself, which has been transformed into a subterranean museum of the Palaeolithic period - the only museum of that kind in the country.
Lepenski Vir, is a settlement dating from the Middle Stone Age,
which contains an unusual and a very advanced prehistoric culture
which is located in the Đerdap Gorge, on the Danube River,
130 km from Belgrade.
Lepenski Vir is the oldest habitat on these territories. There are over 100 trapezoid remains of the houses in the area of around 3,000 m2, all of which have been carefully arranged. Lepenski Vir also produced the very first examples of monumental sculpture in Europe, dating from 6000 B.C., amongst which, the most famous ones are “fishlike” human heads.
Due to a rise in the level of the Danube, the locality has been more recently dislocated to a higher level – 17 meters above the old one. Numerous objects made of bone decorated with ornaments and decorative ceramics can be seen at the Museum of Lepenski Vir in the Đerdap Gorge.
Tourism Organisation of Majdanpek Municipality
Phone: +381 30 590 184, 596 184
Lepenski Vir – Archeological Site
Phone: +381 62 216 559
On the Danube’s right bank, 14 km down the river from Belgrade,
there is what is often referred to as the “cradle of the first Europe”
– the prehistoric settlement of Vinča. The Vinča culture, which
spread throughout the Balkans between 5500 and 4000 BC, was
named after this settlement.
Vinča is not only important as it represents the most sumptuous Neolithic culture on these territories but it is also the highest reach of prehistory in Europe. As an urban environment, with regularly arranged streets and buildings, the settlement had a large number of craftsmen and traders which gave way to a rich, artistic legacy of production and as such, Vinča alters our very comprehension of prehistory.
Vinča people had knowledge of mining; they mastered the production of copper and used it for making axes and ornaments; they produced richly decorated ceramics and unusual figurines of female deities and they used linear script, which is considered to be one of the oldest known scripts.
Today, the locality is closed for the visitors; however, a portion of the enormously rich Vinča culture is exhibited at the Museum in Vinča, as well as at the National Museum in Belgrade.
On the way to Djavolja varoš, within reach of Prokuplje in the south of Serbia, there is Pločnik, an archeological site from the times of the Vinča culture. It is the locality where the remains of a settlement dating around 5500 BC have been preserved. Pločnik used to be a center for processing copper and one of the first sites of the early metallurgy of the Stone Age. Today, a prehistorical village has been built on the locality, representing a very authentic reconstruction of the original settlement. For that reason, Pločnik represents a sort of tourist attraction of the Toplica River region.
National Museum of Toplice
Phone: +381 27 321 694
Near the village of Dupljaja in the vicinity of Bela Crkva, 95 km from Belgrade and 35 km from Vršac, there are remains of a prehistoric settlement originating from the Middle Bronze Age. On this locality, two carts made of terracotta, designed for a prehistoric cult, were discovered. On the carts, human figures with the bird’s beak are symbolically represented. The carts from Dupljaja are kept at the National Museum in Belgrade, and the collection of stone findings – at the City Museum of Vršac.
Tourism Organisation of Bela Crkva
Phone: +381 13 851 777
City Museum – Vršac
Phone: +381 13 838 053
At Starčevo, in the immediate vicinity of Pančevo, 20 km from Belgrade, are the remains of the oldest culture of the Early Stone Age to be found in the Balkans, tracing the beginning of agriculture and the first permanent settlements in the fifth millennium B.C., which are well preserved. The settlement on the Danube River’s bank was founded on oval-shaped sod houses. It is here that ceramic pots painted with red and black ornaments, together with figurines made of baked soil, can be seen at the National Museum in Belgrade and Pančevo.
Tourism Organisation of Pančevo
Phone: +381 13 351 366
National Museum of Pančevo
Phone: +381 13 342 666
In the third century B.C. the Celts arrived in the Serbian Danube basin, bringing with them the potter’s wheel and a new type of fortified settlement. One such settlement was discovered in the vicinity of Vršac, on the locality of Židovar. Apart from the remains of architecture, a hoard of silver ornamentation and other objects made of silver has also been discovered in Židovar and today can be seen at the Museum in Vršac.
Tourism Organisation of Vršac
Phone: +381 13 832 999, 831 055
City Museum of Vršac
Phone: +381 13 838 053
SERBIA IN THE ERA OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE
The territory of today’s Serbia, an intersection of ancient roads
and a bridge connecting the cultures of the West and the East, was
a significant frontier zone of the Roman Empire in late ancient
At the beginning of this era, the big Roman Empire established its Balkan frontier – Limes on the Danube. Tens of fortified military camps were raised along this line of defence, while the hinterland was intersected by a network of roads connecting distant parts of the empire. Where the roads intersected, big and rich cities – the capitals of the provinces and cultural centres – emerged. The rich diversity of monuments dating from the Roman past, as well as the fact that 16 Roman emperors were born on the Serbian soil and lived there, are a testimony to the great rise of this territory. Visitors can follow the paths of the Roman emperors, visit the empire’s cities and palaces and discover Serbia’s unique Roman legacy which is a part of the world’s cultural heritage.
Sremska Mitrovica, town 75km from Belgrade, lies on the foundations
of an ancient Roman town – Sirmium. Having been established
at the intersection of the river and overland roads, the
settlement of Sirmium developed into one of the biggest metropolises
of that time.
As early as in I century A.D., Sirmium was one of the main centres of the Roman army, only to later become a big and rich trade city, the capital city of the province of Pannonia and, ultimately, one of the empire’s residences. Emperors Decius, Probus and Maximinus were born there and Theodosius was crowned emperor there. The settlement was belted by defensive walls and there was a port on the river Sava. In III and IV centuries, Sirmium was a luxurious town, with a square in the centre of the town, wide streets, public bathing establishments and palaces richly decorated with mosaics.
Today, the remains of the emperor’s palace, the Christian basilica, the aqueduct, the granary, the racecourse and the colonnades can be seen in the town centre of Sremska Mitrovica, while frescoes and mosaics are exhibited at the Museum of Srem in Mitrovica.
III - IV century A.D.
The Roman past of Belgrade began in I century B.C., when Singidunum
– a Celtic fortified settlement – was conquered. Singidunum
was a city greatly significant for the defence of the Danube
Limes which had been built on the foundations of a military camp
that had been raised at the estuary of the Sava and the Danube rivers
and at the intersections of the roads connecting the provinces
of Moesia, Pannonia and Dalmatia.
Singidunum was given the status of a free Roman city and was the permanent residence of Flavius’ IV legion. It is almost impossible not to find a trace of the Roman era in the old city of Belgrade. Kalemegdan preserves the remains of the Roman castrum, the aqueduct, a cistern and a graveyard, while underneath Belgrade’s pavements, priceless archeological treasures lie.
At the Roman Hall of Belgrade City Library, parts of a Roman fort can be seen; a collection of gravestones are exhibited in the underground tunnels of Barutana (Engl. Powder-works), and a collection of ornaments including dishes and pieces of art are kept at the National Museum and the Museum of Belgrade City.
Belgrade Tourism Organisation
Phone: +381 11 3061 400
National Museum in Belgrade
Phone: +381 11 3306 000, 3306 048
The Belgrade City Museum
Phone: +381 2630 825, 2638 744
Not far away from Požarevac, city 82km fromBelgrade, there are
remains of the Roman Viminacium, one of the first military camps
on the river Danube, which was transformed into an important
city for the duration of II century A.D.
During the boom days, Viminacium was one of the major Roman cities in the Balkans. There was almost no Roman emperor who did not visit the city. It was the main military centre towards the eastern border of the empire, a trade centre, a city where money was minted and was the capital city of Upper Moesia province. The very well preserved remains of a spacious amphitheatre, public baths, the aqueduct and necropolises are all the testimonies of how glorious the Roman Viminacium used to be in its heyday. The ornamentation and cookware found in tombs are in part, exhibited at the Museum of Požarevac, and partly, at Belgrade National Museum.
Today, Viminacium is a scientific-research centre which is being turned into an archeological park and a unique tourist attraction with an authentic Roman ambience where tourists can also join the excavation teams by prior arrangement.
EMPEROR TRAJAN’S DJERDAP FEAT
During his invasions of Dačani (between 101 and 106), Emperor
Trajan performed a series of incredible architectural feats in the
space of Djerdap. He built the Via Traiana road to Dacia, today’s
Romania. The traces of that road are visible today, too, as well
as the letters carved in stone, Tabula Traiana (Trajan’s Memorial
Plaque), telling of the cutting-through of the road straight
through the rocky coast.
The emperor’s letters preserved near the fortification of Dijana which safeguarded the canal, testify about the second feat Trajan performed, namely his construction of a canal to ensure safer sailing. The construction of Trajan’s Bridge on the River Danube in the vicinity of today’s Kladovo, 260km from Belgrade, was considered to be an architectural feat performed by famous Apolodor the Damascene. Being the biggest one of that time, with 50 pillars and a length of 1 kilometer, the bridge brought glory to Emperor Trajan, and helped him to conquer the new province. Even today, the remains of the 1900-year old pillars of Trajan’s Bridge, next to which there is the fortress of Pontes, are still visible.
In Gamzigrad, not far away from Zaječar, a town 250km to the
east of Belgrade, there are the ruins of Felix Romuliana emperor’s
residence, which Emperor Galerius built in his native place at the
beginning of the IV century. The city was belted by strong walls
and a large number of towers, while, within the confines of the big
walls, the emperor’s palace, a big temple and other public edifices
and ancillary buildings appeared.
Romuliana is the most attractive monument of ancient times preserved in Serbia. Even today, the residence exudes imperial dignity. The extraordinary mosaics, frescoes and valuable sculptures account for the climax of the art of that time. The two most beautiful mosaics depicting Labyrinth and Dionysus were relocated to the National Museum in Zaječar. At the same place, sculptures are exhibited, too, including the emperor’s portrait made of porphyry.
Romuliana is listed as the UNESCO world cultural heritage.
Tourism Organisation of the City of Zaječar
Phone: +381 19 421 521
National Museum – Zaječar
Phone: +381 422 930
Anniversary of the Edict of Milan
In Niš – the city where Constantine the Great was born – in 2013, Serbia will celebrate 17 centuries of the reaching of the Edict of Milan (313), by which Constantine opened a new era in history. The Edict stopped the exodus of the Christians, and Christianity was allowed as a religion, which enabled it to make accelerated progress.
In Ancient Niš, the main roads leading from the Western to the
Eastern Roman Empire met. Therefore, in III century, the city became
a significant trade centre, in addition to being an important
producer of silver and armaments.
The times of the most imposing splendour in Naisus were those under the rule of Constantine the Great, who was born in Naisus, and, while ruling as the emperor, he would frequently visit his native town, making it more beautiful by building many public edifices. The remains of ancient Naisus lie deep under the Fortress of Niš and alongside the banks of the Nišava River.
The gravestones are exhibited inside the fortress and the bronze portrait of Emperor Constantine is kept at the National Museum in Belgrade, and ornaments including bronze statuettes, dishes, money and one bronze female head, maybe originating from a performance of Empress Theodora, are kept at the National Museum of Niš.
In the suburbs of ancient Niš, 5 km towards Niška Banja, there are
the very well preserved remains of the beautiful emperor’s residence
built by Constantine. Inside the spacious complex of Mediana,
the emperor’s villa once dominated, surrounded by an open
colonnade, summer residences, thermal baths and other numerous
edifices. In the full splendour of imperial luxury, the halls are
decorated with mosaics on the floor mosaics, impressive frescoes
and marble statues.
The Medusa mosaic and several sculptures have been relocated to the National Museum of Niš, and the rest can be seen on the site of Mediana.
Tourism Organisation of Niš
Phone : +381 18 521 321,
+381 18 523 118
National Museum of Niš
Phone: +381 18 248189,
+381 18 513 430
1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, 313 – 2013
Not far away from Leskovac, a town 276 km to the south of Belgrade,
there is a Roman city dating from the VI century A.D. Iustiniana
Prima (Empress’s City) - which Emperor Iustinian built in
his homeland as the administrative and ecclesiastical centre of the
province of Illyricum.
From the viewpoint of urbanism, Iustiniana Prima is a city with a clear plan, patterned after the metropolises of the late-ancient world. The remains of the acropolis, a spacious circular square, streets with portcullises (heavy iron gates), an Episcopal (Bishop’s) church and multi-storey houses act as testimony of the then imperial splendour and the Christian spirit of the city. Iustiniana Prima’s power was shortlived. The city was leveled to the ground by the Slovenes and the Avars as early as in 631 A.D.
The digging out on the site brought to surface a large number of objects which are mostly kept at the National Museum of Leskovac, and partly, at the National Museum in Belgrade.
Tourism Organisation of the Municipality of Lebane
Phone: +381 16 847 160
The remains of this Roman city are located near Gračanica* 8 km
from Priština. Situated where the agrarian and mining zones
meet, Ulpiana quickly developed during the rule of Emperor Trajan,
after whom it was named. The archeological findings are kept
at the Museum of Kosovo in Priština.
*Currently, on the basis of the UN 1244 Resolution reached by the UN Security Council, Kosovo and Metohija is under UNMIK administration.
In the vicinity of Knjaževac, there are the remains of an old Roman fort – Timacum Minus. A part of the archeological findings have been relocated to the Niš Collection of Stone Monuments and Fragments, whereas the dishes, various ornaments and bronze statues are exhibited in the Homeland Museum of Knjaževac.
Tourism Organisation of the Municipality of Knjaževac
Phone: +381 19 735 230, 730 988
The Homeland Museum of Knjaževac
Phone: +381 19 731 407, 731 665
The building of Serbia’s numerous monasteries, which are often
surrounded by serenity and green forests, is also closely connected
with the establishment of the Serbian state, founded on a tradition
of monastic life and spirituality. For the most part, the Serbian
monasteries were built in the Middle Ages, when the overall
European culture was being developed under the aegis of the
church, so the monasteries transformed themselves from places
of praying and pilgrimage into important national anchorages and
hotbeds for education and culture.
As master-pieces of medieval art and architecture, our monasteries represent a valuable part of the European cultural heritage. Today, there are more than two hundred monasteries in Serbia; 54 of which have been declared cultural monuments, while importantly, Stari Ras (Old Ras) with Sopoćani, Studenica and medieval Serbian monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija – namely Dečani, Gračanica, Pećka patrijaršija (Patriarchate of Peć) and Bogorodica Ljeviška (Our Lady of Ljeviš) are listed as UNESCO world cultural heritage sites. Taking into consideration the significant number of the Serbian monasteries and their variety of styles, we hereby present certain possible routes you can follow to pay a visit to these extraordinary cultural monuments.
* Currently, on the basis of the UN 1244 Resolution reached by the UN Security Council, Kosovo and Metohija is under UNMIK administration.
MONASTERIES OF OLD RASKA
In the Ibar River’s valley, on the stretch lying between Kraljevo
and Novi Pazar, there is a group of monasteries built at the end
of XII century and in XIII century, at a time when the juvenile
Serbian state whose capital city was Ras, was being established.
The monasteries were being built by the first sovereigns of the
Nemanjić dynasty, thus establishing a tradition of legacy bequeathing,
which was later cherished for centuries.
These monumental edifices are the bearers of the original style merging Romanesque and Byzantine art influences. Đurđevi stupovi monastery is strengthened by powerful Romanesque towers, whereas the decorative façade and sculpture of Studenica can be compared with the most beautiful cathedrals of the Adriatic coastal area and Italy. Žiča, the centre of the first independent Archbishopric and the coronation church of the Serbian kings, had the biggest political and ideological significance.
The temples of Raška have drawn the world’s attention by the beautiful frescoes they are decorated with. The monumental White Angel in Mileševa is the recognized symbol of internal beauty, whereas Dormition of the Holy Mother of God in Sopoćani has been declared the most beautiful fresco of the Middle Ages.
If you visit the monasteries of Old Raška, you will find yourself on the European “Transromanica” route, linking and promoting the European Romanesque heritage. Because of their great contribution to the European cultural heritage, the Serbian monuments are inevitably a ‘must-see’ opportunity on this important European Council’s cultural route.
Tourism Organisation of Kraljevo
Tel: +381 36 316 000, +381 36 311 192
Tourism and sports organisation of Raška
Tel: +381 36 738 670
Đurđevi Stupovi Monastery
Tourism organisation of Novi Pazar
Tel: +381 20 338 030
Tourism organisation of Prijepolje
Tel: +381 33 710 140
MONASTERIES OF KOSOVO AND METOHIJA*
On the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, Serbian southern province,
there are numerous medieval monasteries to be found. The
majority of them were built in XIV century, when this territory
was at the core of the medieval Serbia - with its residence in Prizren.
It was in Kosovo where the Serbian state achieved its biggest
rise; it was there that its culture transformed when it was
faced with imperial Byzantium. King Milutin raised more than 40
churches, which were being built by the most skillful of Byzantine
builders. The masterpiece of that style is the symmetrical monastery
of Gračanica - which is decorated with stone and brick.
The extraordinary frescoes in Bogorodica Ljeviška and the other
royal legacies all but lag behind the most beautiful Constantinople
works of those times. Pećka patrijaršija was the spiritual centre
of the state as well as a place where the glory of the Serbian state
culminated, once Dušan was crowned Tsar.
The monasteries of Kosovo used to be significant educational and cultural centres too. In these buildings books were translated and transcribed, and schools and big libraries were established. In the Dečani monastery, famous icons were painted and learned people and numerous imperial artists once gathered.
*Currently, on the basis of the UN 1244 Resolution reached by the UN Security Council, Kosovo and Metohija is under UNMIK administration.
MONASTERIES OF THE MORAVA - RIVER BASIN
Faced with the invasion of the Turks penetrating the Balkans in
the last decades of XIV century and the first half of XV century,
Serbia relocated its state centre to the north of the country in the
valley of the Morava River. Apart from the chaotic political circumstances,
numerous monasteries were erected and the culture
unusually thrived in the state ruled by Prince Lazar and his son
Despot Stefan as a result.
The monasteries of Ravanica and Manasija are belted by strong walls strengthened with the high towers which were used for repelling the attacks of the Turks. Inside the monasteries’ walls, learned people, writers and artists from conquered countries found their refuge. In Manasija, Resavska prepisivačka škola (the Resava Manuscript School) worked hard; it was here that Despot Stefan himself wrote his “Slovo ljubve”, one of the most beautiful poems of Serbian medieval poetry.
The Morava River Basin churches – Lazarica, Ravanica, Ljubostinja and Kalenić are charming for their beautiful multi-colour façades, which are richly decorated with carved rosettes and interweaving bands.
The elegant and sophisticated style of these fresco paintings bear testament to the great creative power of the last era of the Serbian medieval state.
Tourism Organisation of Despotovac
Tel: +381 35 613 672
Tourism organization of Kruševac
Tel: +381 37 440 332, +381 37 445 180
MONASTERIES OF THE OVCAR-KABLAR GORGE
In the picturesque gorge of the West Morava, on the precipitous
slopes of Ovčar and the Kablar mountains, there is a unique community
of monasteries known collectively as the Serbian Holy
The monasteries were being erected in XIV and XV centuries, in the turbulent times when the Turkish Empire put the Serbian territory under their control. Retreating from the Turkish conquerors, Serbian monks found a shelter in the impassable gorge. In this small space, about ten monasteries were erected and for centuries, they were the places where the orthodox spirituality and national awareness of the Serbs were preserved.
The monasteries of Blagoveštenje, Vavedenje, Vaznesenje, Ilinje, once almost impossible to reach, are, today, connected with each other by an artery; however, it is still only possible to reach the monastery of Jovanje by boat or ferry via the river.
Čačak Tourism Organization
Tel: +381 32 342 360
MONASTERIES OF FRUSKA GORA
Fruška Gora in Vojvodina, the Serbian northern province, is by far
known for its beautiful nature and grape varietals used for producing
the best quality wine; however, above all, it is known for
The seventeen monasteries in Fruška gora were erected in late Middle Ages, when, under the Turks’ pressure, the focus of the Serbian spiritual and cultural life was shifted northwards, to the neighbouring Austria-Hungary Empire; after the great movement of the Serbs in 1690, Karlovačka mitropolija (Metropolitanate of Karlovci) and the political centre for exiled Serbs was established there. They were being erected by the Branković despot family, reviving the memory of the golden times of the epoch of the Nemanjić family. In the monasteries of Krušedol, Vrdnik or Novo Hopovo, there is a visible trace of the great cultural and artistic renaissance of the Serbs having emerged here having been in touch with Western European culture.
Fruška Gora is a place where the Serbian baroque style was conceived; where the first printing works and the inceptions of graphic arts with the Serbs appeared. The monasteries were the places of culture and literacy. Dositej Obradović, Lukijan Mušicki, Laza Kostić, Đura Jakšić and other writers spent time there.
FORTRESSES IN SERBIA
In Serbia, there are the remains of nearly forty fortified medieval cities and fortresses. They were built at strategically important geographical points alongside rivers, key roads or on the defence border lines. They were raised to be impossible to conquer; however, their ruins tell the story of the invasion and the appearance and disappearance of the cultures they once defended. New masters renewed, strengthened and adapted them to the development of the warring technique and changed their original forms. Some fortresses were only military outposts while others protected manor-houses and their squires’ estates and some fortresses were intended for defending the monasteries. Many fortresses were the heralds of contemporary cities. Their tower and defensive-wall systems encompassed the whole settlements – houses, shops, public buildings and churches. As the significant monuments of the European military architecture, today, Serbia’s fortresses are part of the rich cultural heritage and an inevitable ‘must-see’ tourist destination in their own right.
The fortress in Bač is the most significant and the best-preserved
medieval fortress in Vojvodina. It was erected around the mid-XIV
century on a small island of the Mostonga River, which has since
run dry today.
Bač is a type of a “water city”, structured so as to defend the lowland marshy environment surrounding the city. On all sides, the city was surrounded by the river and approached by maneuverable bridges. The main tower in the courtyard is one of the most beautiful examples of late-medieval donjons in this part of Europe. The city was burnt and deserted at the beginning of XVIII century. Today, the fortress is open for visitors, and hosts European Heritage Days, exhibitions and folklore concerts.
Tourism Organisation of Bač Municipality
Tel: +381 21 772 222
The Petrovaradin Fortress, also known as ‘Gibralter on the Danube’
is located on a rocky hill opposite today’s Novi Sad city centre.
Because of its dominant geographical position, many people,
namely the Celts, the Romans, the Avars, the Byzantines, the
Hungarians, the Turks, and, ultimately, the Austrians, who built
the fortress we know today in XVIII century, badly wanted to conquer
it for centuries.
Petrovaradin is a very well-preserved and is the second largest fortress to be found in Europe. It is considered to be one of the best achievements of the European military architecture of XVIII century. Its strong and thick defending walls are made of brick and were built for the purpose of fighting with powerful fire-arms and encompass the upper and the lower garrison city coming out onto the Danube banks.
The underground of the fortress consists of a tangle of the underground tunnels, galleries and corridors, while the army barracks once intended for the accommodation of officers and soldiers with an arsenal, a number of workshops and other buildings whose once defensive role has since been replaced with cultural and tourist attractions, including many art galleries and are surrounded by the thick walls.
The Observatory and Historical Archive have found their place inside the fortress. The gunboat has been transformed into the Museum of the City of Novi Sad, and in one of the barracks there is a hotel, while numerous studios have since opened in the cellars. The baroque tower with a big clock on the Ludvig bastion is the fortress’s recognizable tourist attraction and affords the visitor with a magnificent view of the Danube and Novi Sad.
Tourism Organisation of the City of Novi Sad
Tel: +381 21 6617 343, +381 21 421 811
Belgrade Fortress acts as the centre of what today’s Belgrade now
stands upon. The fact that Belgrade is a city for which the largest
number of battles ever – 115 such battles were fought - testifies to
the significance of the place where it was built.
At the confluence of the river Sava with the river Danube, the ancient Celtic settlement of Singidunum was first raised, only to be followed by a significant Roman fort. Later the city was ruled by the Byzantines and the Hungarians; for a while, the city belonged to Serbian King Dragutin, and for centuries, the Turks and the Austrians fought for it. Belgrade thrived at the beginning of XV century, when it was renewed by Despot Stefan Lazarević, who transformed it into a big city hosting Serbia’s new residence. The fortress complex is divided into Upper City and Lower City. In the Upper City, the thick defensive walls repeat the foundations of the Roman castrum, and the medieval Despot’s Gate with Dizdar’s Tower and the Zindan Gate, whose towers hid notorious Turkish prisons and are well preserved. The Lower City and the port had their fortification with towers. Nebojša Tower, built before XV century, protected the entrance into the medieval port. Dating from XVIII century, the Turkish Sahat Gate was preserved and highlight the Austrian masonry – the massive defensive walls made of brick and Carlo’s Gate which is decorated in the baroque style and influence.
Today’s fortress, surrounded by Kalemegdan Park, has been transformed into an open-air museum and a space for many cultural events held throughout the year. In the Sentinel Building, there is the Gallery of the Natural History Museum; the Observatory is in Dizdar’s Tower, the Planetarium is in the old Turkish bathhouse, while concerts and theatrical plays are performed at the Powder-works.
At the confluence of the river Jezava with the river Danube, one
of the most beautiful fortresses in Europe – Smederevo – lies. The
fortress was erected by Despot Đurđe Branković as a new residence
of the state fighting to survive after being confronted with
strong Turkish penetrations in XV century.
The colossal fortress, surrounded by water from all sides, seemed to be inconvincible; yet, in 1459, it was conquered by the Turks, which signified the end of the Serbian medieval state.
The very big triangle-shaped fortified city is belted by 25 towers, standing 20 meters high and massive walls of around 10 meters in height and up to 4 meters wide. The Small City was built first, with Despot Đurađ’s court providing a ceremonial hall for audiences and the donjon-tower serving as the last shelter for the court’s nobility. A little later, the Big City was built, where military camps were deployed and where the local population lived and was fortified by colossal towers and surrounded by a moat.
Today, the fortress is open for visitors and represents a space for cultural and sports events of the City of Smederevo.
Tourism Organisation of the City of Smederevo
Tel: +381 26 222 952, 614 726
Golubac is a medieval fortress errected on a sharp ridge above the
Danube River, at the entrance to the Đerdap Gorge, 4 kilometers
downstream from the town of the same name. Because of its important
strategic position, this place was fortified early on in history,
and in the times to follow the governors of the town that
changed several times.
The fortress as can be seen today was built in XIV century, and several times it was conquered by the Hungarians and the Serbs; the Turks ruled there the longest. Golubac is a real military fortification without outskirts. Its base is of an irregular pattern and is adapted to the steep hill from which it is perched. On the top of the rock, there is the “hat tower”, from which two rows of the massive walls with eight impressive towers in the shape of a fan slope. It was only possible to reach the town via a water trench. The octagonal tower with a platform for guns was built by the Turks on the bank of the river so as to protect the port, and in order to gain control over navigation, they linked the tower to the Babakay Rock, protruding from the water, with a chain.
The town of Golubac is one of the smaller fortifications compared with Petrovaradin Fortress, Belgrade Fortress or Smederevo Fortress; however, it is a “must-see” tourist destination because of its beauty and location, being the entrance to the second largest gorge to be found in the world after the Grand Canyon.
Tourism Organisation of Golubac Municipality
Phone: +381 12 638 614
On the top of the steep cliffs in Ibar Gorge, on the way from
Kraljevo to Ušće, there is a medieval town – Maglič. Many legends
are associated with Maglič; however, it is not known for sure when
the town was built; nor is it known who its first master was. The
town is supposed to have been built in XIII century to protect the
roads of Old Raška and the monasteries of Studenica and Žiča.
It has been recorded that, in XIV century, Archbishop Danilo II
erected new palaces and cells in the town.
Maglič is one of the best-preserved and the most beautiful fortifications of the medieval Serbia period. The formation of the town follows the form of the ridge it was built on. It is belted by strong defensive walls with seven towers and a tall donjon on the eastern side. The interior of the fortress hides the preserved foundations of St. George’s Church (Crkva sv. Đorđa), the remains of a palace, a bakery and a water cistern. Even today it is not easy to access the hardly ever conquerable town of Maglič. There is a plan for the future arrangement of the fortress complex as well as to make pedestrian paths which will make Maglič a more accessible place for visitors.
Tourism Organisation of Kraljevo
Phone: +381 36 316 000, 311 192
Niš Fortress, situated in the center of the city on the Nišava River
bank, represents one of the best-preserved and one of the most
beautiful Turkish military forts in the Middle Balkans. It was built
in XVII century, on the site where earlier a Roman, then a Byzantine
and finally a Serbian medieval city had stood once.
The fortress of a heptagonal five-bastion shaped basis is belted by massive defensive walls. Once, the fortress was surrounded by a trench filled-up with water (moat), whose northern part is kept today, too. The main entrance is through the southern Stambol Gate, and on the other sides – through the Belgrade, Vidin and Water Gates. The hamam is the oldest preserved building dating from the Turkish times – a Turkish bathhouse from XV century. Inside the fortress, there was Pasha’s court and the Garrison Headquarters, a library, a settlement with barracks, shops, powder-works and other military buildings.
Within the complex of the fortress today, there are numerous cultural and tourist contents. The Arsenal and Bali-Bey’s Mosque have been transformed into exhibition galleries, whereas the summer stage represents an important cultural centre of the city including the internationally acclaimed Nišville Jazz festival.
Tourism Organisation of Niš
Phone: +381 18 521 321, 523 118
KALE - THE TOWN INSIDE PIROT TOWN
Inside the town centre of contemporary Pirot, lies the Kale Fortress,
known amongst many people as Momčilo’s Town. According
to the tradition, the town was built by the famous Rhodope
aristocrat Momčilo, but most probably, the fortress was built by
Prince Lazar in XIV century, on the site of an older Roman fort, as
a strategic point in defending the town from the Turkish invasion.
This region was on the main trade and military route through
which the Istanbul road passed.
The town of Pirot represents a smaller-sized military fort strengthened by the towers and consists of two compounds. The Upper Town was raised on a high rock behind the Bistrica River, just slightly far away from its confluence with the Nišava River. On the very top of the rock, a tall donjon tower with a view of the broad Pirot field was errected. The Lower Town was belted by a brick-made trench and strong defensive walls with towers.
Today, the fortress is open for visitors; however, the town of Pirot is making a big effort to reinvent itself with a programme of fundamental reconstruction. By opening new spaces for museums and exhibitions and by building the replicas of old Pirot houses, the fortress is becoming the cultural centre of the town.
Tourism Organisation of Pirot Municipality
Phone: +381 10 320 838, 320 839
GALLERIES IN SERBIA
There are few cities associated with one particular name; there are not many famous and known people who can be identified with one particular place as such. We hereby present the art galleries leaving their mark on the cultural identity of the cities where they are located.
MILAN KONJOVIC GALLERY, Sombor
“Milan Konjović” Gallery in Sombor was opened in 1966, with
a collection of 500 selected works representing the art of Milan
Konjović, which the grand artist gave as a gift to his native town.
Milan Konjović (1898-1993) was a renowned Serbian painter who
lived in Paris and painted in his own style of a passionate colourist.
Today, the gallery has a big collection of paintings representing
an overview of the whole creative career of the famous painter and
numerous retrospective exhibitions in the country and abroad. The
“Milan Konjović” Gallery is extremely significant in the culture of
Sombor and is a ‘must-see’ for those visiting the town.
“I give these paintings, my favourite ones, to my native town as a gift, and do it with love, for it is there that they do belong to…”
THE MEMORIAL COLLECTION OF PAVLE BELJANSKI, Novi Sad
The memorial collection of Pavle Beljanski keeps anthological
works of Serbian modern art in the first half of XX century, the
gift of the famous collector who it was named after. Simultaneously
with a permanent exhibition of works, visitors can also see
the Memorial of an Artist and the Memorial of Pavle Beljanski.
Throughout the year, the gallery hosts thematic exhibitions, students’
and children’s workshops, concerts and promotions.
Since the gallery opened to the public, the Memorial Collection of Pavle Beljanski was a place where admirers of art, researchers, collectors, artists, people belonging to different traditions and interests have been meeting. The very collection of Pavle Beljanski has been self-sufficient to attract attention of all of those people and, on the basis of the works, deserve to be acclaimed as the most complete and the most significant collection of Serbian modern art.
Tourism Organisation of the City of Novi Sad
Phone: +381 21 6617 343, 421 811
Memorial Collection of Pavle Beljanski
Phone: +381 21 472 99 66, 528 185
SAVA SUMANOVIC PAINTINGS GALLERY, Sid
The legacy of a famous painter, who spent his last twelve years of
life in Šid, is kept in the Šumanović’s family house in this town.
In his homeland, Sava Šumanović (1896-1942) found serenity
and inspiration, and it is here that he produced his most beautiful
works of art.
Today, the gallery named after him has an invaluable collection of 417 works of art. Visitors to the gallery are given an opportunity to learn in detail about the last decade of the creative endeavors of this great Serbian painter, as well as to gain s short insight into the period of time when the artist lived and worked in Paris.
In the immediate vicinity of the gallery, there is the memorial home of Sava Šumanović, where the artist’s studio, his family’s pieces of furniture and the authentic ambience are preserved.
GALLERY OF NAIVE ART IN KOVACICA
For more than half a century, naive painters in Kovačica have been
attracting global attention. The Gallery of Naive Art has put in one
place displaying the best works of art of these painter-farmers,
and those admiring naive art have been presented with a complete
picture of their poetic visual arts creative endeavour. Ever since
the day it was established, the Gallery has given the world 37 distinguished
painters of naive art.
The most significant painters of naive art of the Gallery are Zuzana Halupova and Martin Jonaš. In its homeland fund, the Gallery of Naive Art keeps paintings of both the first naive art painters and the contemporary members of the Gallery.
The magical world of naive art painters immersed into today’s popular folklore is visited by nearly 17,000 tourists from the country and overseas every year.
Tourism Organisation of Kovačica Municipality
Phone: +381 13 660 460
The Gallery of Naive Art in Kovačica
Phone: +381 13 661 157
MILENA PAVLOVIC-BARILI GALLERY, Pozarevac
The Gallery of Milena Pavlović-Barili in Požarevac is actually the
house where she was born which has been converted into a gallery,
offering visitors a chance to see her paintings and at the same time
get to know more about this extraordinary woman, female painter
and poetess of surrealism.
Milena Pavlović-Barili (1909-1945) is one of the most interesting people of the artistic Europe between the two wars. She lived in Rome, Paris and London, where she exhibited together with the European elite, such as Jean Cocteau and Andre Breton. While living in New York, Milena Pavlović-Barili was also an illustrator for Vogue and other fashion magazines.
The Gallery has the permanent exhibition of Milena’s works of art, as well as a memorial room with authentic pieces of furniture and her family members’ photographs.
Tourism Organisation of Požarevac
Phone: +381 12 221 941, 542 277
Milena Pavlović-Barili Gallery
Phone: +381 12 224 173
THE FRESCOES GALLERY, Belgrade
The Frescoes Gallery of the National Museum in Belgrade gives
visitors an opportunity to have an experience of and gain an insight
into the greatest achievements of the Serbian medieval and
Byzantine arts at one central point.
The Gallery keeps the replicas of the frescoes, icons, miniatures and castings of sculptures which bear testimony to the unique and significant art of medieval Serbia and the neighbouring Balkan countries; many replicas originate from monuments destroyed or are endangered today.
For its rich collection and unique concept of the exhibition space, the Frescoes Gallery is a ‘must-see’ on the Belgrade Tourist Map.
MICA POPOVIC GALLERY, Loznica
In one of the most beautiful houses in Loznica’s main street, there
is the Mića Popović Gallery, the gallery of a renowned painter and
an honorary citizen of Loznica.
Mića Popović gave his native town a collection of his paintings, graphic paintings and drawings, as well as books on painting he had been writing as a gift. Sometime later, the collection was completed by the works of art of the painter’s wife – Vera Božičković- Popović.
Mića Popović (1923-1996), an academic, painter and director, who left a mark on his time through his rebellious energy and pieces of work which are listed as the best accomplishments of our XXcentury art.
Tourism Organisation of the Town of Loznica
Phone: +381 15 878 520
Mića Popović Gallery
Phone: +381 15 882 327
THE VALJEVO MODERN GALLERY, Valjevo
The Valjevo Modern Gallery is one of the leading galleries in Serbia
exhibiting significant works of art of contemporary visual arts.
The permanent exhibition of the Gallery presents the works of art
of eminent painter academic Ljuba Popović, born in Valjevo, who
lives and works in Paris.
The Gallery’s thematic exhibitions present the works of art of the painters of Mediala, a significant Serbian avant-guard movement in the second half of XX century, and contemporary painters of the fantasists’ movement as the successor of Mediala.
Apart from exhibitions, Valjevo Modern Gallery also organises lectures, forums, movies and serious music concerts.
Public Company “Valjevo Tourist”
Phone: +381 14 221 138, 236 393
Valjevo Modern Gallery
Phone: +381 14 220 878
TOWN GALLERY, Uzice
The Town Gallery in Užice is an exhibition space and an important centre of the contemporary art of the region of the town. The Gallery organises exhibitions of modern and contemporary artists from the country and abroad as well as a very significant international event – The International Graphics Biennale ‘Dry Needle’. The Gallery’s premises are also open for the regional visual arts salon, numerous educational programmes and artistic projects such as ‘Graffiti Night’ and ‘The Wall Mosaic’.
THE CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY, Nis
The Contemporary Visual Arts Gallery leaves a special mark on the
cultural life of the City of Niš and represents an important centre
for the contemporary art of South-Eastern Serbia. The Gallery
has three very attractive exhibition spaces: Paviljon (The Pavilion),
within the walls of a former Turkish arsenal; Salon 77 (Salon 77),
inside Bali Bey’s Mosque in the Fortress, and Galerija Srbija (Gallery
Serbia), in the very city-center of Niš.
By its wide range of activities – numerous exhibitions, lectures, documentary and research work – the gallery affirms its environment and takes contemporary art closer to its citizens and visitors alike. The Contemporary Visual Arts Gallery of Niš also organises two international events: the Art Colony of Sićevac and the International Graphics Workshop.
THE NADEZDA PETROVIC ART GALLERY, Cacak
The Nadežda Petrović Art Gallery in Čačak is engaged in contemporary visual arts through its exhibition and publishing activities as well as other kinds of artistic programmes. It was named after Nadežda Petrović (1873-1915), a great female painter and the originator of Serbian modern art who was also born in this town. Apart from numerous exhibitions of contemporary artists, the gallery organises the Memorial of Nadežda Petrović every second year which is the oldest and one of the most significant international visual arts events held in the country. It encapsulates and cherishes the tradition of the first Yugoslav exhibitions Nadežda Petrović initiated, organised and presented her works of art at. There are four extraordinary and valuable contemporary art collections at the gallery.
Other recommended events
There are numerous events both national and international
which represent contemporary visual arts in Serbia.
Just to mention some of them:
1. October Salon - Belgrade
2. International Terracotta Sculpture Symposium - Kikinda
3. Triennial of Ceramics - Belgrade/Subotica
4. Miniature Biennial - Gornji Milanovac
5. Biennial Art in Pančevo
6. BELEF - Belgrade
7. International Comics Festival - Belgrade
8. Marble and Sounds - Aranđelovac
9. Architecture Biennial - Belgrade
10. Mikser Festival - Belgrade
Classical Music in Serbia
Classical music is an intrinsic part of Serbia’s cultural heritage and is celebrated in many festivals throughout the country. Over the past fifty years, classical performances have embraced both national and international artistes. Performances celebrating both artistic and individual composers in festivals held in Serbia’s cities and towns which celebrate traditional works and contemporary pieces throughout the year.
THE MUSIC FESTIVAL OF NOVI SAD (NOMUS), Novi Sad
The Music Festival of Novi Sad (NOMUS) is an international festival of classical music, established in 1975. Although focused on chamber music concerts, in recent years, the festival has been enriched through the performance of other music genres too (such as Igor Stravinsky’s “The Story of a Soldier”), by broadening the range of music (jazz, ethno, world music), musicals and puppetshows. The organisers of the festival are specially committed to music being played jointly by both national and international artists in specially themed concert evenings. There is always a solo recital in the event schedule, as well as a performance of an eminent symphonic orchestra. NOMUS is held inside a beautiful Synagogue dating from the beginning of the 20th century. Today, it does not serve its original purpose of the past but is exclusively used as a space for concerts.
“Guitar Open” Festival, Subotica
The “Guitar Open” festival affirms artists playing the classical guitar as well as the performers of other music genres who play this instrument. Ever since its establishment in 2006, the Festival has been the host to a guitar competition, too, while apart from the main festival schedule, promotional performances have been held in order to promote intercultural co-operation.
BEMUS – THE BELGRADE MUSIC FESTIVAL, Belgrade
The “Belgrade Music Festival” (BEMUS) is amongst the oldest music festivals to be found in Serbia and was established in 1969. Today, it is one of the most popular festivals of classical music in South-Eastern Europe. BEMUS is a member of the European Festivals Association – EFA). The Festival owes its reputation to the presentation of music from both national and foreign artists. The programme also includes contemporary and alternative music and BEMUS acts as a producer or co-producer of the majority of such projects. The Berlin and New York Philharmonics, Marta Argerich and Gidon Kremer, Julian Rachlin, and the Ballet Group of Maurice Bejart, are just some of the visiting “names” who have performed at the festival to date. BEMUS opened up the door of its concert halls for youth musicians as well. Violinist Stefan Milenković, once he was 14 years old, had his first solo concert at the Festival.
THE “GUITAR ART” FESTIVAL, Belgrade
“Guitar Art”, established in 2000, gathers the most eminent classical
guitarists as well as other guitarists of all musical genres.
“Guitar Art” is labeled as one of the “most significant festivals in
the world”. So far, the world’s greatest guitarists have taken part
at the Festival, namely the Asad family, the Pepe Romero Guitar
Quartet, and Edin Karamazov, whereas stars of other music genres,
namely Sting, fado singer Mariza, flamenco guitarist Vincente
Amigo, have presented one of their numbers each as a gift to the
Festival and have been subsequently recorded on CDs.
The last project of the “Guitar Art” Festival consists of the “Kings of Strings” ensemble of three exclusive artists, namely Stochelo Rosenberg, Vlatko Stefanovski and Tommy Emmanuel, who said that the “Guitar Art is a cult festival where I will always be glad to return”.
“MARBLE AND SOUNDS” FESTIVAL, Arandjelovac
The “Marble and Sounds” Festival, established in 1996, connects different arts. The focus of the event is on concerts, at which renowned national solo players, such as jazz saxophonist Jovan Maljoković, guitarist Uroš Dojčinović, the Big Band Orchestra and the RTS Symphonic Orchestra have performed. Being unique as a synthesis of music, statuary art, painting and literature, the Festival is deemed to be one of the most valuable festivals for its artistic significance.
“EDICT OF MUSIC” FESTIVAL, Nis
The “Edict of Music” Festival was established in 2009, not long
before the celebration of 1700 years of the reaching of the “Edict
of Milan”. The event takes place at the hall of Saint Sava’s Home
in the churchyard of the Cathedral Church of Niš, where spiritual
music is played, and in Saint Sava’s Park, where ensembles sing the
ethno-music of their native countries.
The festival is organised to promote Niš as Tsar Constantine’s native city, a significant point on the Christian world map; the section point on the old Roman road to Constantinople and as a link between the East and the West. The “Edict of Milan” and the “Edict of Music” invite all the nations of the world to meet at the same message of a psalmist, saying: “All that breathes should praise the Lord!”
“Music Festival of Nis” (NIMUS), Nis
Since 1974 the “Music Festival of Niš” (NIMUS) has been organized in the city of Niš every autumn. The Festival is brings together world renowned artists as well as performers born in Nis. The famous pianist Kemal Gekić once said that, taking the programme into consideration, NIMUS confirmed the cultural identity of the city of Niš as a significant music centre of Serbia.
Tourism Organisation of Niš
Phone: +381 18 521 321, 523 118
“Music Festival of Niš”
Phone: +381 18 595 740
“THE DAYS OF MOKRANJAC” Festival , Negotin
“The Days of Mokranjac” Festival is officially the oldest music
festival in Serbia (founded in 1966). The Festival programme is
focused on the affirmation of the creative endeavors of composer
Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac, who the Festival is dedicated to.
Mokranjac is one of the most significant composers of Serbian
music history, whose opus is dedicated to choir ensembles. For
that reason, the “Choir Competition”, whereby choirs compete
to receive the prestigious title of laureate, is considered to be the
most attractive part of the festival.
For over 50 years since the festival’s inauguration eminent domestic and foreign artists and ensembles have performed, playing not only the music of Mokranjac but also the most beautiful pieces of music from their country of origin. Wanting to highlight the significance and grandeur of Mokranjac’s opus, the famous choir of the State Chapel from Saint Petersburg “Glinka”, conducted by Vladimir Chernushenko, played the masterpiece composed by Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac – the “Liturgy” at “The Days of Mokranjac” and today, the permanent record of the piece of music is considered as one of the best live performances of this composition here and abroad.
we also recommend
Within the rich music life of Serbia, we hereby also recommend
Constantinus Festival, Niš
“CosArt” Festival, Aleksandrovac
Tel: +381 60 367 88, 65 367 88 11
Early Music Festival, Belgrade
Harp Fest, Belgrade
“Harpsichord, Live Art” Festival, Belgrade
Horizon on the Tisa River, New Bečej
Tel: +381 23 773 522
International Choir Festival, Niš
Tel: +381 18 521 321, 523 118
International Platform of Composers, Belgrade
“Musica Classica Light” Festival
Music Summer of the City of Novi Sad, Novi Sad
“Vrnjci” International Festival of Classical Music, Vrnjačka Banja
Tel: +381 36 611 106, 611 107
The Days of Stanislav Binički, Jasika
Tel: +381 37 440 332, 445 180
The “Dies organorum” Festival of the Organ, Belgrade
A rich concert repertoire is continuously available at numerous cultural Institutions such as:
The Ilija M.Kolarac Foundation, Belgrade
National Theatre Belgrade
Auditory of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra
Madlenianum Opera & Theatre
Serbian National Theatre Novi Sad
Novi Sad Synagogue
Auditory of the Niš Symphonic Orchestra
The Terazije Theatre,Belgrade