In the eastern Serbia where river Resava originates from Beljanica Mountain lays a beautiful town of Despotovac. It is located 110 kilometers north from the nearest airport in Nais, and 130 kilometers south from the capital, Belgrade.
Municipality of Despotovac has great tourism potential and significant historical monuments with great cultural heritage and you can choose between different kinds of places for relaxing or active holiday.
1. Resava Cave
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Resava cave is one of the longest caves on Balkan Peninsula with over 4 kilometers in length and 800 meters of it is opened for tourists. There are even more tunnels and paths unexplored or not adjusted for tourists routes. This over 80 million years old cave has 8 halls and it is just 18 kilometers away from Despotovac. The biggest and the most famous hall is Concert hall, named after its great acoustic.
2. Avantura Park
Avantura park or Adventure Park is the newest content added to Resava Cave’s offer in 2017. It represents a polygon for visitors to have fun through specially designed games of orientation, balance and even overcoming the fear of heights.
3. Waterfall Veliki Buk
Waterfall Veliki Buk is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Europe and it is put under national protection. Around the waterfall, there are many restaurants which serve national dishes such as homemade bread and cheese, and all kind of meat and fish produced by locals.
4. Resava Monastery
Resava Monastery, built in the 15th century by despot Stefan Lazarevic represents one of the most essential monuments of Serbia in medieval time. It is also known as Manasija Monastery and was regarded as the cultural and spiritual capital of Serbia. In 15th-century manual transcription workshop, “Resavaschool” was placed there and it was significant for Serbian culture even after the fall of Serbia.
It is a real fortress because it was built with 11 defense towers and it had great military importance during difficult times under Ottomans. Since there was a lot of siege in the past 6 centuries there is a lot of art, pottery and real life used weapons collected and that are now exposed and open for visitors to see. It is a breathtaking place where you can find yourself feeling like a knight while on top of the tallest tower.
In the whole municipality of Despotovac, a lot of different festivals take place. One of the most important, although new, is the medieval ‘Just Out’ festival. This knightly festival is being held on the field beside Manasija monastery and is gathering participants from all over the world.
This is a 3 day festival with a variety of things that you can see, enjoy and feel and it is always being held in the last weekend of August. Either you want to try authentic food and drinks prepared in a medieval manner, throw axes, shoot from bow and arrow, put on handmade armor and helmets or just to chat with participants and watching knight’s fight, this is a festival for you. There are schools for children where they can learn all about fighting with swords and most importantly to learn what knight honor is all about.
Another interesting way to see and explore the knight’s village is taking a tour across the whole place by a little boat. For those who want to get a real taste of medieval life, there is also a camp near the village where participants are resting. There are various tournaments taking place throughout the whole day and music and dance performance by night. The main event includes fights between knights, one on one or fighting in groups in full body armor from a different time period.
To this day, the festival was home to half a million visitors since it was founded in 2015. The essential meaning of this festival is to honor and show gratitude for everything despot Stefan did for this city and country.
6. Open-Air Museum
Just 1 kilometer from town there is an open-air museum (Miniatures Park) with well-designed monastery replicas from whole Serbia. Every replica is made in 1:17 scale, so just imagine a sight of 20 most important Serbian medieval monasteries. This is one of thirteen parks of its kind in Europe and just 46th in the world.
7. Senjski Rudnik
Senjski Rudnik was founded in 1853 and it is the oldest coal mine in Serbia. By the time, the demand for coal decreased, and to avoid the tragic destiny of mining cities, Council of Europe recognized and funded a Town Museum project that was first approved in 2009. By February 2018, the display included 1,000 exhibits and 5,000 photos and is organized as the Coal Mining Museum. There you can see some of the first pictures taken in Serbia, and see original tools that miner used 70 years ago. One thing that makes Senjski Rudnik attractive is definitely a mining elevator, the last of its kind which is currently under the state protection as it is steam operated and is still operational.
In the 1934 miners got a Catholic church, because of a lot of Catholic miners that were living there. Since Saint Barbara is the patroness saint of miners, the church was adequately named after her. To express how significant it was, the Catholic Church in Serbia had only 16 dioceses and one of them is placed in Ravna Reka – St Barbara.
8. Krupaja Spring
In the foothill of Beljanica, you can explore the beautiful Krupaja Spring. It is known for its colorful ponds full of fish and many small waterfalls and lakes. The path through the woods leads you to a wonderful cave, that’s only half above the water and in it a maze of underwater canals. Another interesting thing about this special place is the legend of the hidden treasure which is believed that is hidden in the cave.
9. Ethno Houses
When you decide to visit Despotovac, you can choose any type of accommodation but to have a complete experience you should rest in the various Ethno houses. The most popular is the Ethno house “Milanovic” located in Lipovica. This place offers you plenty of small paths that you can wander around, many friendly animals, homemade traditional Serbian food, and even a beer from a local brewery.
One that is the most uncommon festival, but the one with great energy around it is certainly “Mudrijada“, a world testicle cooking championship. It may sound unusual, but it is actually a competition in cooking aphrodisiac, where you can also learn how to prepare a different kind of food. All of this is followed by an excellent meal and great powerful music because a sudden boost of energy must go somewhere, doesn’t it?!
When planning a trip to Serbia, Despotovac is something worth traveling for, because of its rich history and culture, with heartwarming people that will make everyone feel like they are home. It may look small on a map, but it can offer so much.