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Visiting 7 UNESCO Hertitage Sites

Grand Balkan Journey DAY 1: Ljubljana

Arrival to Ljubljana Airport and transfer to hotel. Accommodation in 4 stars hotel. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner, overnight.

DAY 2: Ljubljana & Bled After breakfast 2 hours Ljubljana city tour with escort local guide – Ljubljana Castle, return funicular ride, National Heroes Square… Excursion to Bled, with escort local guide /3 hours hire/ including entrance fee to Bled Castle, Pletna Boat ride and Church of Assumption fee… Dinner and overnight in Ljubljana hotel.

DAY 3: Ljubljana – Postojna Cave – Lipica Stud After breakfast departure to Croatia. Stopover for touring the Postojna Cave with train ride and escort local guide. Continue to Lipica Stud Farm and sightseeing with escort local guide. Continue to Zagreb and city tour, Zagreb Cathedral and St. Mark’s Church. 4 star hotel accommodation in Zagreb, dinner, overnight.

DAY 4: Zagreb – Plitvice Lakes - Lipitza Farm – Zagreb After breakfast departure to magnificent Plitvice Lakes National Park, UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. Touring the National Park /entrance fee included/. Accommodation in 3+ stars hotel. Traditional dinner with folklore performance. Overnight.

DAY 5: Plitvice Lakes – Zadar – After breakfast departure to gorgeous Dalmatian coast. Break for sightseeing of Zadar with escort local guide and visit to the Church of St Donat, The Archaeological Museum. Continue to Sibenik and sightseeing of the Cathedral of St James – UNESCO Heritage site with escort local guide. Continue to Trogir and sightseeing of the well preserved Romanesque-Gothic historical city core, Cathedral of St Lovro /St Lawrence Cathedral/ with escort local guide. Arrival to Split and accommodation in 4 stars

DAY 6: Split city tour + free afternoon After breakfast Split city tour with escort local guide – Diocletian Palace, The Baptistery, Cathedral of St Dominus, Archaeological Museum /entrance fees included/. Fish lunch. Afternoon free at leisure. Overnight

DAY 7: Split – Medjugorje – Mostar After breakfast departure to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Visit to Medjugorje Apparition Church and continue to Mostar, one of the most beautiful towns of Herzegovina. Accommodation in 4 stars hotel. Dinner, overnight.

DAY 8: Mostar – Sarajevo After breakfast 1,5 hour Mostar city tour with escort local guide – Mostar Old Bridge with wellpreserved historical core and old Bazaar, included in 2005 into UNESCO’s List of World Cultural Heritage, with its towers, oriental shops, smells of various specialties of oriental cuisine, the Turkish House and the Mosque /including entrance fee/. Afternoon drive to Sarajevo, via Jablanica lake. Accommodation in 4 star hotel in Sarajevo, located in the vicinity of the old part, just 250 meters from Bascarsija. Traditional dinner with sevdalinka music, overnight.

DAY 9: Sarajevo After breakfast morning 2 hours Sarajevo city tour with escort local guide – the Latin Bridge, the City Hall, Bascarsija old bazaar, the Bey’s mosque, the old Orthodox church with Icon museum, Catholic church, optional Tunnel of escape Museum visit. Afternoon free at leisure. Traditional dinner with live music. Overnight.

DAY 10: Sarajevo – Trebinje – Dubrovnik After breakfast departure Sutjeska National Park with break for photo shooting of the WWII Monument to the famous Sutjeska Battle. Continue to Trebinje with break for visit to the Museum of Herzegovina. Drive to Dubrovnik, the famous ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ and accommodation in 4 stars hotel. Dinner, overnight.

DAY 11: Dubrovnik city tour + free afternoon After breakfast 2,5 hours Dubrovnik city tour with escort local guide – the Pile Gate, the Old town, the Franciscan Monastery and Museum, Sponza Palace, the harbor, the Rector’s Palace /entrance fee included/. Lunch in the old town. Afternoon free at leisure. Overnight.

DAY 12: Dubrovnik – Kotor – Cetinje – Budva/Bečići After breakfast departure Sutjeska National Park with break for photo shooting of the WWII Monument to the famous Sutjeska Battle. Continue to Trebinje with break for visit to the Museum of Herzegovina. Drive to Dubrovnik, the famous ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ and accommodation in 4 stars hotel. Dinner, overnight.

DAY 13: Budva – Podgorica – Shkodra – Kruja – Tirana After breakfast drive to Podgorica and further to Albania and Shkodra. Tour of the Rozafa Castle, overlooking the whole historical area. Continue to Kruja and visit to the Skanderbeg Museum – entrance fee included, and the Old Bazaar. Drive to Tirana and accommodation in the 4 stars hotel. Dinner in traditional restaurant. Overnight.

DAY 14: Tirana – Durres – Berat After breakfast Tirana City tour with escort local guide – the Skanderbey Square, Et’hem Bey Mosque, the Clock tower, National Museum of History – entrance fees included. Continue to Durres and sightseeing tour – the Roman amphitheater with mosaics, the Archaeological Museum, the Roman Baths, the Aleksandër Moisiu Theatre – entrance fee. Drive on to Berat, the UNESCO Heritage townmuseum and accommodation in the 3 stars hotel. Traditional dinner, overnight.

DAY 15: Berat – Ohrid After breakfast walking tour of Berat with local escort guide – the Kalaja Citadel, the Onufri Iconography Museum and the Ethnographic Museum – entrance fees included. Drive along the scenic road to Macedonia. Tour of Saint Naum Monastery – entrance fee. Accommodation in the Ohrid 4 stars Hotel. Dinner, overnight.

DAY 16: Ohrid city tour + free afternoon After breakfast 3 hours Ohrid city tour with escort local guide – Saint Sophia Cathedral, Saint Painteleimon Church, The Holy Virgin of Peribleptos Church – Saint Kliment Church, Icon Gallery /entrance fees/, Tsar Samuil Fortress Upper gate, old Bazaar. Traditional lunch in the old town. Afternoon free at leisure. Overnight.

DAY 17: Ohrid – Jovan Bigorski Monastery – Skopje After breakfast departure to Skopje with break for touring the Saint Jovan Bigorski Monastery – entrance fee. Skopje sightseeing tour with escort local guide – Sveti Spas Church, the Stone Bridge, the Old Bazaar, Daut Pasha Baths, Cathedral of St. Kliment Ohridski, Icon Museum, Museum of Macedonia, Mother Theresa Museum – entrance fee. Accommodation in 4 stars hotels. Traditional dinner with folklore performance, overnight.

DAY 18: Skopje – Pristina – Gračanica Monastery – Studenica Monastery After breakfast drive to Pristina, the capital of Kosovo and Metohija. Tour of Gračanica Monastery, the UNESCO site dating from the 14th century, one of the most beautiful Byzantine churches in the Balkans. Continue to Novi Pazar and tour of Sopoćani Monastery, featuring magnificent ensemble of frescoes that are painted in bright colors and decorated with golden leaves, and part of UNESCO World Heritage. Tour of Saint Peters Church in Ras, UNESCO Heritage site and one of the oldest churches in the Balkans. Drive along the Ibar River Valley to Studenica Monastery, the UNESCO Heritage site housing wonderful well preserved frescoes. Sightseeing of the Studenica Medieval complex, including the Treasury. Accommodation in Studenica Monastery Dormitory – quality of good 3 stars hotel accommodation. Traditional or monastic dinner, overnight.

DAY 19: Studenica Monastery – Sargan steam train ride + Mokra Gora Nature Park After breakfast morning 2 hours Sarajevo city tour with escort local guide – the Latin Bridge, the City Hall, Bascarsija old bazaar, the Bey’s mosque, the old Orthodox church with Icon museum, Catholic church, optional Tunnel of escape Museum visit. Afternoon free at leisure. Traditional dinner with live music. Overnight.

DAY 20: Staro selo Sirogojno – Zlakusa village – Belgrade After breakfast tour of the Staro Selo Sirogojno Open air Museum /entrance fee/ representing authentic architecture and family lifestyle in the mountainous region of the Southwest Serbia and the vast woodland of the Dinara Mountain area of the 19th century /black smith workshop, bakery, dairy, granary, forge, animal compound, copper’s workshop…/. Drive to Zlatibor, the most prominent mountainous tourist center of Serbia and short walk along the beautiful lake and the local market. Drive to Belgrade with stop over in tiny Zlakusa village for visit to the Terzica avlija traditional settlement – Ethno Park /entrance fee/. Presentation of pottery hand manufacture and folklore performance. Arrival to Belgrade and accommodation in 4 stars hotel. Dinner, overnight.

DAY 21:Belgrade After breakfast half-day Belgrade city tour – the Republic Square, National Theater, Saint Sava Orthodox Cathedral /second largest Orthodox church in the world/, Ethnographic Museum, Fresco Gallery, Princess Ljubica Manor, Kalemegdan Fortress, Ruzica Church /entrance fee/. Free afternoon. Big farewell dinner with live tamburitza music. Overnight.

DAY 22: Belgrade – departure After breakfast transfer to Belgrade Airport, departure flight and end of program and services.

Included Services ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Luxury Mercedes Mini Coach, air-conditioned, fully equipped with experienced driver, 2 nights in 4 stars Ljubljana hotel with half-board services entrance fee and escort guidance in Ljubljana excursion to Bled letna boat ride, entrance fees and escort guidance 1 H/B in 4 stars Zagreb hotel Postojna Cave entrance with train ride and escort guidance Lipica Stud Farm entrance fee and escort guidance 1 H/B in 3+ stars hotel in Plitvice National Park, entrance fee for Plitvice NP and escort guidance 2 B/B and 1 lunch in 4 stars Split Hotel entrance fees in Zadar Trogir and Sibenik, escort local guidance Medjugorje entrance fee 1 night in 4 stars Mostar hotel, entrance fee and escort guidance in Mostar 1 H/B and 1 B/B in 4 stars Sarajevo hotel traditional dinner in Sarajevo entrance fees and escort guidance in Sarajevo entrance fee for Museum of Herzegovina 1 H/B and 1 B/B in 4 stars hotel in Dubrovnik entrance fees and escort guidance in Dubrovnik lunch in Dubrovnik old town entrance fee and escort guidance in Kotor entrance fees and escort guidance in Cetinje escort guidance in Shkoder 1 B/B in Tirana 4 stars hotel traditional dinner in Tirana Sarayet Restaurant entrance fees and escort guidance in Tirana entrance fees and escort guidance in Durres 1 H/B in 3+ stars hotel in Berat entrance fees and escort guidance in Berat entrance fees Ohrid churches and St Naum Monastery 1 H/B and 1 B/B in 4 stars Ohrid hotel entrance fees and escort guidance in Ohrid traditional lunch in Ohrid entrance fee for St Jovan Bigorski Monastery 1 H/B in 4 stars Skopje hotel entrance fees and escort guidance in Skopje 1 H/B in Studenica Monastery Dormitory Sargan 8 Train Ride 1 H/B in Staro Selo Sirogojno traditional chalets presentation of pottery manufacture and folklore performance in Terzica avlija Ethno Park 2 B/B in 4 stars hotel in Belgrade entrance fees and escort guidance in Belgrade farewell dinner in Belgrade English speaking professional tour conductor throughout CostlessTravel 24 hrs Logistics and support

Know before you go.. Medjugorje The story of Medjugorje is well known to most Catholics. In 1981 six teenagers were playing together in the hills between the villages of Medjugorje and Bijakovici. Fifteen-year-old Ivanka Ivankovic, on the way home to the village of Bijakovići, suddenly saw on the hill of Crnica a woman in a white robe, with a white scarf over the head and the child in her arms. It was on this barren hillside that Mother Mary appeared and addressed and spoke to them. When the children told their parents what happened – the first reaction was skepticism. The Međugorje apparitions, however, did not cease. The Mother Mary

Mostar Mostar is the economic, political and cultural center of Herzegovina, the largest and the most important city in the Herzegovina region and the center of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar lays in the large sunny and fertile Mostar basin at the altitude of 60 meters, at the crossroads of lowland- and mountainousHerzegovina, surrounded by slopes of Prenj, Velez /1967 meters/ and Cabulja Mountains and hills of Hum. Neretva River – the main river of Herzegovina flows through the center of Mostar, dividing town into two parts, or

appeared again and again with the main Međugorje messages as Conversion back to God, Prayer, Fasting, Daily Reading of Bible and Confession, and soon made believers out of even the most vocal of critics. Since then it is estimated that over 15 million people have visited the tiny place of Medjugorje. This sleepy Herzegovina village of Međugorje has become the second largest Catholic pilgrimage site in the world. There has been much controversy over the legitimacy of the visions and apparition, so much so that the Pope has not recognized Medjugorje as an official pilgrimage site, and shows restraint and caution. Some say the main reason for the ”apparition” of Our Lady at Crnica hill: at the foot of

connecting them. The old town of Mostar is surely the most charming and attractive part, especially for numerous copper-smiths and goldsmiths and carpet-makers and artisans in the Old Bazaar that is known as Kujundziluk, the colorful Old Bazaar with traditional handicrafts and a well-preserved traditional Turkish home. This Oriental part of the city is UNESCO Heritage site which still preserved its old tradition of highly skilled craftsmen in metal engraving, painting and rug-weaving. The central part of the old Mostar with its forts, towers and gates developed around this magnificent monument producing a unique architectural whole.

the hill lies village of Šurmanci, where local Croatian Catholic Nazi – Ustasha – in early August 1941, in just two days, brutally, mostly with edged weapons and tools killed more than 800 Serbs from Prebilovci, Serbian Orthodox village in Medjugorje area, close to Crnica village, 35 km from Mostar, 20 km from the Adriatic sea and 5 km from the town of Capljina. Nonetheless, millions of faithful Catholics from all over the world visit Medjugorje and its sacred spots, and the many amazing accounts suggest that miracles are a regular occurrence here – the Virgin Mary is said to still appear every day to three of the teenagers and once a year to the other three.

From Illyrian times until the Ottoman invasion, the ancient settlement of Blagaj was the center of political power and Mostar was no more than a tiny settlement of 19 houses with small wooden bridge along the banks of Neretva River. Guards of the bridge were ‘mostari‘ after whom the name of Mostar is derived. With the arrival if the Ottomans came relative peace and stability. The mountaintop fortresses used since Illyrian times and particularly by the Bosnian aristocracy in the centuries before Herzegovina was conquered and lost a great deal of significance. For example in Mogorjelo we have the opportunity to enjoy the ruins of the Roman large estate – Villa Rustica – presented with an excellent

Herzegovinian cuisine and lighted at night with torches and accompanied by traditional music and folklore. The fertile but exposed valley in which Mostar is located was an ideal place for building a city – so that is exactly what the Ottomans did. Herzegovina officially came under Ottoman rule in 1482 when Mostar became Ottoman Empire administrative and military center of the Herzegovina region. The old town developed around the new stone bridge /Stari most/ that was completed in 1566 by Dalmatian craftsmen but in Ottoman design. With the old bridge at the center, new mahalas /quarters/ began to spring up on both sides of Neretva River. Mosques and medresas /religious schools/ were constructed as Islam spread through the growing town. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries many of Mostar’s most beautiful and significant Islamic structures were built. The Cejvan-Cehan Mosque was constructed in 1552 and is the oldest surviving monument of Ottoman rule in Herzegovina. In 1557, eight years before the construction of the Old Bridge, the Kriva Cuprija Bridge, which was reputedly a prototype for the Old Bridge was built over the Radoblja stream that feeds into Neretva River. During Ottoman times Mostar quickly became a key trading partner with Dubrovnik and other coastal cities and experienced a long period of cultural, political and economic growth. Caravan routes led directly to Mostar, carrying Dalmatian goods such as olive oil, fish and linen. Cargoes of wool, meat, honey and oats were shipped from Mostar towards the seaside cities. All three religious communities lived in

harmony for centuries with Ottomans who had high level of tolerance towards the Christian population. After the third failure of the Ottomans in the Battle for Vienna in 1683, the Empire started to decline. Uprisings were most frequent in the 18th century, especially from 1875 to 1878 and until the end of the 19th century which marked the final collapse the Ottoman Empire. Austria-Hungary included Bosnia and Herzegovina in its administrative region when railroad, bridges, schools and public bath were built. AustriaHungarian rule ended with the assassination of Prince Ferdinand in Sarajevo and much of Bosnia and Herzegovina experienced harsh economic and political struggles in the decades that followed. With the end of the World War II and the victory of Tito’s partisans came challenging, but peaceful time. Mostar became one of the major socialist strongholds and the most important city of Herzegovina. The city enjoyed great prosperity in the years leading up to the disintegration of Yugoslavia. All immediately changed with the War in Bosnia in 1992 when Mostar experienced its worst part of history that is regarded as its worst destruction. Mostar was on the front lines of the mid-90’s troubles, and most of the city was completely devastated. Even now the downtown is full of condemned and abandoned buildings, their windows blown out like black eyes. Even the stunning Old Bridge was blown to smithereens during what many consider to be the low point of the war. Until 2004 Mostar was split up along ethnic lines and consisted of six small

municipalities. Those ethnic divisions are not evident to visitor today. Decision of the country High Representative to unify the six municipalities into the “City of Mostar”, guaranteeing equal rights and representation to all its peoples has been most courageous. Truly united Mostar is the only way to ensure peace for the future generations. There has been much reconstruction since the war ended but wounds need a long time to heal. When the Stari most, or Old Bridge, collapsed from Croat tank shelling in 1993 it was like the heart was ripped out of most Mostar natives. Now the uniquely beautiful stone structure that had spanned the Neretva River for over four centuries once again arches across its raging waters. The reopening of the Stari most – Old Bridge in July 2004 was spectacular celebration that reinstated Herzegovina as one of the most exciting tourist destinations in the Balkans. Mostar is one of the most beautiful old towns in the region – slick and white town with the icy green winding Neretva. In its center of cobblestone footpaths sits the breathtaking arch of the Old Bride. The Mostar Old Bridge When Turks invaded Mostar, there was wooden bridge near today’s Old Bridge that hung on chains. As it became worn out in the middle of the 16th century people of Mostar asked the authorities in Istambul to build a new bridge from quality material. They got permit and the Old Bridge was completed and put into service in July 1566. The Mostar

Bridge was designed by Mimar Hajrudin Young, pupil of the famous Sinan, the great Turkish architect in honor of the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Its span is 28,70 meters and 4,49 meters wide it has only one big stone arch. It was built from the stone “tenelija” which comes from the Mukosa quarry, 5 km south of Mostar. The Mostar Bridge was built of square stones connected with iron hooks. The wellknown builders and masons from Dubrovnik and surroundings of Popovo Polje built the bridge at the narrowest part of the Neretva River canyon and thus completed the whole marvelous picture of this landscape making it one of the most beautiful in the total length of the river, from its source to the Adriatic Sea. Mostar is known for its magnificent Old Bridge all over Europe and the world. The Tower of Halebija – Cehovina Mostar Tower of Halebija sits on the right bank of the Neretva River, next to the Mostar Old Bridge. There was a prison on the ground floor from 1716, while the floors above served as guardhouses for accommodation of garrison. The Tower of Tara Mostar The Tara Tower is situated on the left side of the Mostar Old Bridge. It was built in semi-circular shape with its flat side turned towards the Bridge. The walls of Tara Tower are more than 3 meters thick. Erected in 1676 Tara Tower served as storage for gunpowder and ammunition. The Muzej Stari most with the observation poin is located in the Tara Tower.

Ceyvan Cehan Mosque Mostar In the immediate vicinity of the Mostar Old Bridge, on the main road /Velika Tepa/ lies the Ceyvan Cehan Mosque. It is belived to be one of the oldest buildings in Mostar, built from 1552 0 1553, confirmed by the inscription above the entrance gate. The minaret was added next to the left wall near the entrance. Later a medresa /Islamic school/ was built on the same compound. Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque Mostar The Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque is 150 meters to the north of the Mostar Old Bridge between Tepa and Kujundziluk. The Mosque was built in 1617 in square shape and covered by a dome. The paintings inside are typical Ottoman design and the detailed woodwork of the doors is an Ottoman trademark. The altar with steps is for the efendija /Muslim cleric/ to lead prayers or to address his congregation. The sadrvan /fountain/ in front of the Mosque was set under six stone columns, connected with arches and covered with stone tiles. Karadjoz-bey’s Mosque Mostar Karadjoz-Bey Mosque in Mostar is the most beautiful and important monumental work of Islamic sacred architecture of the 16th century in the whole territory of Herzegovina. There is dome above the Mosque and its interior are is square /13,4 x 13,4 meters/. Its minaret is tall and harmonious and decorated. The Mosque was completed in 1557. Its designer was Kodza Mimar Sinan, the

great Ottoman architect. The interior is richly decorated with Oriental arabesques and floral motifs. The sadrvan /fountain/ is in the courtyard in front of the Mosque. This Mosque was heavily bombarded during the war and its minaret was completely destroyed by tank and artillery rounds from the Croatian forces. It was restored and opened to the visitors again. The Old Mosque Mostar The Old Mosque, next to the Old Bridge, has been preserved with all the ancillary buildings dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Nearby there is a line of small craft workshops and handicrafts shops, as well as small restaurants offering traditional specialties. This part of the town is favorite promenade for young people, artists and tourist. Kriva Cuprija Mostar – Crooked Bridge Mostar Kriva cuprija spans the Radobolja River, close to its confluence with Neretva and about 100 meters from the Old Bridge which is the miniature of the Old Bride. Kriva cuprija Bridge was built in 1558 by the Ottoman architect Ceyvan Kethoda, eight years before construction of the Old Bridge. It is believed that the Kriva cuprija – the Crooked Bridge had been used as a model for the much larger building achievement of the Old Bridge. The Crooked Bridge is made of stone and is constructed according to the Roman model in the form of an arch. Semicircular in form, the span of the arch is 8,43m in length and 4,21m in height,

and constructed in the traditional way using “Tenelija” stones cut by hand and put together with mortar. The parapets are made of limestone, and the road surface is also constructed in a traditional manner using stone thresholds and pebbles in mortar. Kriva cuprija Bridge was destroyed in flood in 2001 and recently restored under the auspices of UNESCO. Tepa – pijaca Market Mostar The main Mostar market place has been called „tepa” of „Small Tepa” for centuries. It is situated an the immediate vicinity of Kujundziluk Street and the Old Bridge. Here you can also find various handicrafts and food specialties /cheese, pomegranate…/ Biscevic’s House Mostar One of the most significant and most beautiful houses from Turkish period is the Biscevic’s House. It is situated in Biscevic Street, on the very banks of the Neretva River. The Biscevic’s House was built in the 18th century with a ground-floor and the first floor where there is a large room for conversation /divanhana/. In the courtyard of the Biscevic House there is a small building which served as kitchen. The interior of the Biscevic House is beautifully arranged in Oriental style and the floor

is extended on poles. The facade of the Biscevic House is characteristic of Turkish architecture of that time. The Old Orthodox Church Mostar The old church was built at the place of the present Old Orthodox Church which was destroyed in order to build this beautiful church in 1833. There was a very valuable icon of Our Lady in the interior of the Orthodox Church in Mostar, together with numerous icons dating from the 15th until the 19th centuries. The Old Orthodox Church Mostar which was dedicated to the Birth of the Holy Virgin was destroyed in the most recent war. The New Orthodox Church Mostar Construction of the Church in the immediate vicinity of the Old Orthodox Church began in 1863 and was completed in 1873. The new Orthodox Church was located on the hilly zone. Its construction works were designed by the artist Spasoje Vulić who was not familiar with Mostar infrastructure so the church was completed by Andreja Damjanov, who just have finished the Orthodox Church in Sarajevo. Similar to the Old Orthodox Church the works were financed by the Serbian Orthodox citizens of Mostar. At that time it was the largest Orthodox Church in Bosnia

and Herzegovina and one of the most beautiful religious structures in Mostar. Unfortunately the Orthodox Church Mostar was burnt and completely destroyed on the 6th of January 1993, at Christmas Eve, so that nowadays only ruins are left. Destruction of the most recent war completely destroyed this beautiful structure, what lead to loss of its artistic heritage. Reconstruction plans are scheduled for the near future. Catholic Church Mostar Catholic Church in Mostar was completed within the old diocese complex at Podhum, in what was previously the garden of the Vizier Ali Pasha Rizvanbegovic of Herzegovina. The Mostar Catholic Church was recently renovated after it was heavily damaged during the war. A steeple of over 30 meters dominates the skyline. The Franciscan Monastery and the provincial residence were built next to the Church. The Franciscan monastery houses library with 50000 books and collection of valuable documents and letters and Oriental manuscripts and a big collection of paintings, ranging from the Italian masters of the 16th and the 17th centuries til modern artists.

Sarajevo Sarajevo is the capital and the largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina and also the capital of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity, as well as the center of the Sarajevo Canton. Neither geographically expansive nor characteristic by large buildings, the city of Sarajevo retains a particular, arresting charm with its abundance of busy cafés and abiding tradition of hospitality. Sarajevo region has long been the cultural and political capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a region that offers it all, from the excitement of the oriental capital city Sarajevo to one of the last primeval forests in Europe found in Sutjeska National Park to the east. Sarajevo is famed for its tumultuous history and the city’s architecture expresses this beautifully; the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarians, the Yugoslav wars and the unfortunate destruction of Sarajevo have all left their marks, making the city of Sarajevo one of the most interesting in Europe. The cultural, natural, and historical heritage of Sarajevo is certainly among the most fascinating in all of the Balkans – for it is here that the great eastern and western powers met and left their influences in this still largely unknown corner of the world. Originally it was a tiny village square named Tornik, later Trgovište, Staro Trgovište, to be finally known as the Vrhbosna, the old estate of the Pavlovic family, mentioned in 1244. Turks definitely conquered Vrhbosna sometime before 1450, when this settlement was named into Sarajevo. After the invasion, Turks have established a town and the large saraj /court/ beneath the settlement, after which /saraj/ Sarajevo got its name. But in 1878, after 400+ years of Ottoman rule, Sarajevo became part of the Austria-Hungary Empire, practically overnight. This was a pretty dramatic change and brought a completely new style of architecture to the the city. Despite initial resistance, this era of Sarajevo history brought a lot of benefits. The Austrian-Hungarian Empire brought industry, better infrastructure and new technology to Sarajevo, which became a sort of testground for innovations before they

were rolled out in Vienna. Thanks to this, Sarajevo became the first city in Europe to have a fully electrified tram system in 1885, which is still in use, and buildings along the Miljacka river belong to the best examples of Austrian-Hungarian architecture in the city, introduced shortly after the city became part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. Hotel Europe Sarajevo was the first modern hotel, established in year 1882 on crossroads of Oriental and European Sarajevo, being the classiest place in Sarajevo. It was designed by Karlo Paržik, Czech architect who came in Sarajevo with 26 years of age and where he worked nearly for 60 years. He designed some of the most beautiful buildings in Sarajevo. Miljacka river is one of the city’s chief geographic features, which flows through the city from east through the center of Sarajevo to west part of city where eventually meets up with the Bosna river. Miljacka river is “the Sarajevo River”, with its source in the town of Pale, several kilometers to the east of Sarajevo. Walking from the Gazi Hüsrevbeg Complex through the old town to the Miljacka river, one observes numerous original restaurants, cafés, and souvenir shops in an area frequented by tourists and locals alike. The Bosna’s source, Vrelo Bosne near Ilidza /west Sarajevo/, is another notable natural landmark and a popular destination for Sarajevo population and tourists. Several smaller rivers and streams also run through the city and its vicinity. During the violent and insanely complicated Yugoslav wars that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia, Bosnia & Herzegovina was caught in the crossfire between Serb and Croat forces, who had pretty much agreed to half the country between them which culminated in the Siege of Sarajevo. Lasting from 5 April 1992 to 29 February 1996, the Siege was the longest of a capital city in modern warfare. But, despite of all war sufferings, the city of Sarajevo is still changing – and for the better, and buildings have been lovingly restored and foreign investment has restored a very cosmopolitan feel of the city. The fully-renovated national library, which was purposefully bombed during the early stages of the Siege has been

finally reopened, and thanks to generous EU funding, it was painstaking rebuilt and the interior is well worth the €2 entrance free. Miljacka River originates from several springs in the foot of Romanija and Jahorina Mountains, and flows through Sarajevo from the east towards the west. The city of Sarajevo lies at the altitude of 511 meters and is completely surrounded with the Olympic mountains that reach 2000 meters : Bjelašnica, Jahorina, Igman, Treskavica and Trebević Mountains. Jahorina Mountain stretches through the corridor and Gorazde canton, directly to the southeast of Sarajevo, bordering Bjelašnica Mountain. Jahorina Mountain is 1913 meters high, located in the middle of the Sarajevo Olympic mountains. Like the other Sarajevo mountains, Jahorina is a popular ski destination famous for a variety of winter sports facilities and activities. During the 1984 Winter Olympics, Jahorina Mountain was the site of the women’s alpine skiing events while the men’s alpine events were held on Bjelašnica Mountain. Today, Jahorina Mountain is a very popular destination for skiing, hiking, and sledging. Jahorina Mountain features over 40 km of ski tracks, along with modern facilities. This region is tucked into one of the most mountainous regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, lending to its isolation yet creating a warm, welcoming feeling in the small communities in and around the capital Sarajevo. After the Trebevic test cable cars were installed, a first test ride of Sarajevo gondola that connects the Bistrik old part of Sarajevo with the wonderful observation point on Trebevic Mountain, was successfully completed in January 2018. It is anticipated that the 33 cable cabins will be in operation from Sarajevo old part to Trebevic peak, each with ten seats, with a capacity of 1.200 passengers per hour. Instead of 12 minutes, which was needed in past, a new Sarajevo cable car will take visitors to Trebevic in seven minutes and 15 seconds. Sarajevo epitomizes a partial centuriesold struggle against outside influences combined with the absorption of these influences into one of the most diverse cultures in Europe. Indeed, few places

on earth feature an Orthodox and a Catholic church, a mosque and a synagogue within easy walking distance of each other. If there were any city in Europe that effortlessly straddles east and west, it is Sarajevo. In Sarajevo the Byzantine and Ottoman empires of the east and the Roman, Venetian and Austria-Hungarian empires of the west left an indelible mark through culture, traditions and religions that make the city an elegant and cosmopolitan city. Yet, a walk through Bascarija – the historical part of Sarajevo is a walk through its past. From the oriental bustling Ottoman quarters lined with sweet shops, cafes and handicraft workshops, to the administrative and cultural center of the Austria-Hungarian times, Sarajevo encompasses the very best of both worlds. In Sarajevo, people have time for family and friends. It is often said that a man’s wealth here is not measured in his material belongings but rather in his friendships. In the immediate vicinity of Ilidža there is a nature monument of Vrelo Bosna -source of the Bosnia River, which is reached through a three and a kilometer long centennial alley. The Great Aleja, planted until 1894 with a total of 726 squash and wild chestnut trees, is ideal for walking, cycling and running, running … It is a natural park with its springs and streams, lakes and islets. Vrelo Bosne is a morphological, hydrologic and botanical-horticultural natural phenomenon, one of the most beautiful places in Sarajevo and its surroundings. In the area of ​Vrelo Bosne there is also the main source of drinking water in the city of Sarajevo – Bačevo. This area, spreading over a surface of 603 hectares, is a habitat for at least 26 different plant communities and 20 animal species, some of which are endemic. Mala Bosna, a stream of six springs from the area of ​Vrelo Bosne, is a habitat of an indigenous kind of trout trout. To the northwest of Sarajevo are the settlements of the ancient Bosnian Kingdom, which thrived in towns such as Visoko, Fojnica and Vares in the 14th and the 15th centuries. To the east of Sarajevo the vast canyon leads of the Upper Drina River region – with spectacular nature for all sorts of ecoadventure tours are awaiting nature lovers. The city of Sarajevo is rich in

museums, including the Museum of Sarajevo, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina /established in 1888/, the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Museum of Literature and Theater Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city also hosts the National theater of Bosnia and Herzegovina, established in 1919, as well as the Sarajevo Youth Theater. Other cultural institutions include the Center for Sarajevo Culture, Sarajevo City Library, Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Bosniak Institute, a privately owned library and art collection focusing on the Bosniak history. Unfortunately, Sarajevo is witness of the tragic recent history of the Balkans, now dating almost 20 years back since it ended, which needs to be visited, respected and understood. The hills around the city of Sarajevo host many Muslim cemeteries where victims of the siege are buried. Kovaci is the main cemetery above the old part of Sarajevo for soldiers from the Bosnian Army who were killed during the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina /April 1992 – December 1995/. The majority of the people buried here were killed during the siege of Sarajevo. Today there is a war memorial which houses a small war museum. The Yellow bastion of Sarajevo, completed in 1908 is located on Jekovac above the cemetery Kovači in Stari Grad, and is known among Sarajevans as the Cannon-Tower (Top-kula). The Yellow bastion is one of the most famous spots of the Sarajevo people, and all who visited this place, thanks to its memorable panorama of Sarajevo atmosphere. Throughout history this building has changed its names and was called the Bastion of Ahmet Pasha Rustempašić, Jekovačka, and the Bastion Behind the Gate. The history of the city of Sarajevo remembers it particularly from the period of occupation of the Austro-Hungarian army under the command of Josip Filipović 1878, when at this place strong resistance to the occupying forces was given. Nowadays, from this bastion the cannon is fired during Ramadan to indicate the time of iftar. Reconstruction of the Yellow Bastion of Sarajevo has been started by a

preliminary design as the responsibility of the famous Sarajevo architect Mufid Garibija. The approval of the Institute for Protection of Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Sarajevo Canton has been obtained, and works on the archaeological examination of the walls and the interior of the Yellow Bastion are ongoing. Attractions and places to see in Sarajevo : Baščaršija – old trading center from the Ottoman period, Gazi Husrev-begova džamija /Gazi HusrevBey’s Mosque/, Ferhadija dzamija /Ferhadija Mosque/, Tzar’s Mosque, Alipašina džamija /Ali-Pasha’s Mosque/, The City Hall, Vrelo Bosne – springs of the Bosnia River, Morica Han /station for overnight and change of horses during the Medieval times/, Clock Tower, Stara pravoslavna crkva /Old Orthodox Church/, the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin, Catholic Cathedral of the Jesus’ Heart, Synagogue, Sevdah Art House with wonderful sevdah museum and UNIQUE exhibitions and a cafe, Sarajevo Tunnel Museum – Sarajevo War Tunnel, Butmir Neolithic site, Latin Bridge over the beautiful Miljacka River, Skavac Waterfall, Jahorina, Bjelasnica and Igman Mountains, Ilidza Spa and Vrelo Bosne /source of Bosna River/…

Sutjeska National Park Sutjeska National Park is one of the oldest parks of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the most diverse eco system in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most diverse in South-east Europe. Sutjeska National Park features deep and picturesque canyon of Sutjeska River, gentle valleys, thick forests, the peak of the Skakavac waterfall deep in Perucica’s valley, glacier Lake Trnovacko, set at 1,500 meters in the middle of a huge amphitheater of rocky peaks, mountainous pastures and high mountainous massifs as the Prijevor from where spread incredible views of this majestic park, and the surrounding mountains of Maglic, Zelengora and Volujak. On east the Sutjeska National Park borders with Pivska planina Mountain /1775m/ and Piva River up to Šćepan polje, and further along the Drina River course up to the confluence of Sutjeska River, on the west with Zelengora Mountain /2014m/, connected with Lelija Mountain /2032m/, on southeast with Maglić Mountain /2386m/, Volujak Mountain /2337m/ and Bioč Mountain /2338m/. Tjentište is the central point of the Sutjeska National Park, through which passes one of the most important roads direction the Adriatic, is 96 km away from Sarajevo, 143 km away from Dubrovnik and 146 km from Podgorica. The Tjentište is named after the Latin word of “tentorium” which means tent, most probably as this place was developed on the place of the former caravan station. Seven glacial lakes of extraordinary beauty and its glacial origin of the Sutjeska National Park are named the “mountainous eyes” and decorate the Zelengora Mountain – one of the most beautiful mountains of the Dinaric Mountainous system. Those are the lakes of : Orlovačko, Štirinsko, Kotlaničko, Donje and Gornje bare, Crno and Bijelo jezero. Borilovačko Lake is the only artificial lake on the Zelengora Mountain. The Donje Bare Lake is situated at the foot of the northeastern side of the Tovarnica Mt, with its peak of Planinica – 1722 m. On the northeastern side of the Donje Bare Lake are mountainous meadows which feature numerous small water ponds that are rich in flora. The Donje

Bare Lake is set at the altitude of 1500 meters, it is some 200 meters long and 140 meters wide, with deepest depth level of 4 meters. The Donje Bare Lake is filled with spring waters from several sources, and also from the largest spring in the area. In the whole area of the Sutjeska National Park there are well marked mountain hiking and cycling trail, that are used by numerous visitors of this unique natural environment. Sutjeska National Park is known by one of the bloodiest battles in World War II, known as the Sutjeska Battle (1943) or „Case Black”, fought in the wider region of Tjentište. At the beginning of the Sutjeska Battle, on the 15th May 1943, as testifies the great book of Viktor Kucan, the “Soldiers of Sutjeska” – “Borci Sutjeske”, the First Proleterian Brigade numbered 1934 soldiers – 1747 men and 187 women. The Sutjeska Battle ended as historically famous Partisan victory over the Germans in WW II, where nowadays stay large stone monuments commemorating this significant historical event. The Sutjeska Battle makes one of the mail-stones of the myths on the partisan resistance to the occupator in the Second WW. The core command of the famous Sutjeska Battle performed the Supreme HQ, the Central Hospital and brigades : Prva proleterska /the First Proletarian/, Prva dalmatinska /the First Dalmatian/, Prva majevička /the First Majevica/, Druga proleterska /the Second Proletarian/, Druga dalmatinska /the Second Dalmatian/, Treća sandžačka /the Third Sandzak Brigade/, Treća krajiška /the Third Krajina Brigade/, Treća dalmatinska /the Third Dalmatian Brigade/, Četvrta proleterska /the Fourth Proletarian Brigade/, Peta crnogorska /the Fifth Montenegrin Brigade/, Šesta istočnobosanska /the Sixth East-Bosnian Brigade/, Sedma banijska /the Seventh Banija Brigade/, Sedma krajiška /the Seventh Krajina Brigade/, Osma banijska /the Eight Banija Brigade/, Deseta hercegovačka /the Tenth Herzegovinean Brigade/, Šesnaesta banijska /the Sixteenth Banija Brigade/. 3301 soldiers gave their lives at Sutjeska in this superhuman battle. A Memorial Complex of Sutjeska Battle was built with a huge monument, performed by the sculptor Miodrag Živković, while

the whole Memorial complex was designed by the architect Ranko Radović. At the Memorial Hall of the Sutjeska Memorial complex there are frescoes completed from 1971 til 1974 along the artistic concept of Krsto Hegedušić and scenario of Dušan Plenča. Frescoes were executed by associates of Krsto Hegedušić – academics, sculptors and painters Branka Hegedušić, Milenko Bosanac, Milutin Gajić, Ratko Janjić Jobo, Zlatko Keser and Fedor Ličina, and the master builder was Hamid Madeško, with his assistant Ahmo Krek. Opened in the early 1970s, the park and the monument along with the ossuary (3301 Partisan fighters died here) and the museum constituted one of the most attractive and elaborately designed destinations for groups and individuals traveling within Yugoslavia. The Sutjeska National Park itself covers surface of 17,500 hectares of magnificent and untouched wilderness, on the main route Belgrade – Visegrad – Srbinje – Tjentište – Trebinje – Dubrovnik and the road Sarajevo – Dubrovnik. Sutjeska National Park hosts Perucica – one of the last two remaining primeval forests in Europe. Beech trees tower over 60 meters high and endemic black pines stem from the rocky faces that protect the ancient forest. Skakavac waterfall can be seen from the look-out point – this seventy five meter waterfall is dwarfed by the massive blanket of green trees that cover the valley. Highlighted by Sutjeska National Park and whitewater rafting on the Tara River – this untouched, pristine wilderness is among Europe’s last oasis of how nature used to be. The Sutjeska River has carved a stunning valley through the middle of the park and divides Zelengora /Green Peaks/ Mountain from Maglic and Volujak Mountains. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s highest peak, Maglic Mountain /2,386 meters/ is located in the Sutjeska National Park, directly on the border with Montenegro. Maglić Mountain massif consists of two peaks namely, the Veliki Maglić /2,386 meters/ on the Bosnia and Herzegovina side and the Crnogorski Maglić /2,388 meters/ on the Montenegrin side. Maglic Mountain provides a challenging climb for even highly fit and experienced hikers. Mountaineering access to the

summit of the Maglić Mountain massif is only from the southern side, which features rich vegetation of grass and mountain pine. From the top of the Maglic Mountain, beautiful views of Volujak and Bioc Mountains, Trnovacko Lake, Durmitor Mountain (in Montenegro), apart from the Bosnian mountains in the north and

northwestern direction could be seen. Zelengora Mountain is great for hiking and walking and there are several newly renovated mountain huts providing accommodation right on the mountain. The event of „Dani borovnice” – Days of blueberry is organized every August and attract numerous lovers of the Zelengora Mountain. Brown bear,

eagles and wolf sightings are common since Sutjeska National Park is Europe’s last natural habitat of brown bear. Sutjeska National Park is amazingly peaceful corner of our world and features fantastic biking routes!

Trebinje Trebinje, the southernmost city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Republika Srpska lies at the foot of Leotar Mountain /1224 meters, highest limestone peak of the area/, at the edge of the karst Trebinjsko and Popovo polje – Trebinje and Popovo Fields, at the altitude of 270 meters. Trebinje is situated only 28 km away from the famous tourist center and the wonderful Adriatic city of Dubrovnik /Croatia/ and 40 km away from Herceg Novi /Montenegro/. The town of Trebinje is located in the hinterland of the Adriatic Sea, specifically in the hinterland of Dubrovnik and Herceg Novi coastal areas. Trebinje borders with Bileća in the north, with Ljubinje in the northwest, with municipality of Ravno in the west, with Dubrovnik in the southwest, with Herceg Novi in the south and Nikšić in the east. Leotar Mountain rises above Trebinje which is surrounded from all sides by mountains, so when observed from the air, the town sits in the vast valley, through which flows the river. The neighboring towns of Trebinje are Bileća, Ljubinje, Dubrovnik, Herceg Novi and Nikšić. Trebinje competes with Mostar and Stolac in terms of beauty, but fortunately had escaped the fates of

these two towns and was not heavily damaged during the Bosnian war, which luckily left its old town intact. However, Trebinje is unfortunately famous for Srđan Aleksic, (Herzegovinian Serb born 1966, tragically killed 27 January 1993), who was real Serbian patriot and heroically lost his life trying to defend his Muslim fellow citizen Alen Glavović by being beaten to death. Srđan’s father wrote in the obituary of his son that “Srđan died carrying out his human duty”. The name of Trebinje comes from the Byzantine term Travunia, which was initially a Byzantine territory governed by the Serbs. It commanded the road from Ragusa /nowadays Dubrovnik/ to Constantinople /nowadays Istanbul/, traversed in 1096 by Raymond of Toulouse and his crusaders. According to some researchers, the first stecak -tomb stone- with inscription designates the grave of the zhupan /lord/ Grdesa /Grda, iupanus Gerdessa/ from Trebinje, who died sometimes between 1151 and 1178, which was found in the Medieval necropolis of Police, near Trebinje. The Grdesa zhupan was one of the most distinguished Serb noblemen and knights of the 12th century, about whom there are not other preserved documents. Under the name of Tribunia or Travunja /the Trebigne of

the Ragusans/, it belonged to the Serbian Empire until 1355. Trebinje became a part of the expanded Medieval Bosnian state under Tvrtko I in 1373. There is a medieval tower in Gornje Police /Gornye Politse/ whose construction is often attributed to Vuk Brankovic. In 1482 Trebinje was captured by the Turks as the rest of Herzegovina. Old Town of Trebinje is called the Kastel, and had been transformed in the former commercial and craft center. At the end of the 19th century and early 20th century and Austrian military camp was built on sites of the Roman, Medieval and Turkish fortifications, while at present it hosts the rich Museum of Herzegovina. The city walls, the Old Town square, and two mosques of Trebinje were built in beginning of the 18th century by Resulbegović family. The Arslanagić Bridge in Trebinje was originally built in the 16th century by Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic, at the village of Arslanagić, 5 km north of the town. Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic attributed Arslan-aga and his family to collect the bridge toll after which the bridge got its name. Arslanagic Bridge was moved closer to Trebinje (1 km) in the late 1960s when it got under water, because of the newconstructed accumulation lake. The Arslanagić Bridge represents one of the most attractive and beautiful

Turkish bridges in Bosnia and Herzegovina, featuring two large and two small semicircular arches. During the period of the Austro-Hungarian administration /1878-1918/, several fortifications were built on the hills surrounding Trebinje, and there was a garrison based in the town. They also modernized the town, expanding it westwards, building the present main street, as well as, several squares, park, new scools, tobacco plantations, and vineyards, thus forming an unique

mixture of the Oriental and Mediterranean architecture of Trebinje. Industrial development during the period of the socialist Yugoslavia, especially hydroelectric potential brought prosperity and large increase in urban population of Trebinje.


area of the Boka bay, where several settlements greatly developed – Morinj, Risan, Perast and Kotor, guarding wealth and reputation of rich Boka merchants and their families, hidden and protected from unforeseen attacks.

Kotor Stari Grad – Kotor Old Town Kotor is magical town of Montenegro, located in the south-eastern part of the beautiful Boka-Kotor Bay which since 2000 has been regarded one of the most beautiful bays in the world, and one of the most distinctive landscapes anywhere on the Mediterranean. The gigantic mountains in the hinterland of Kotor – Lovcen Mountain, 1694 meters and Orjen Mountain, 1894 meters, divide the bay into the Bay of Herceg Novi, the Bay of Tivat and the Bay of Risan and Kotor, connected via the straits of Kumbor and Verige, which makes the narrowest part of the bay – 300 meters. The Verige point is the straits named after huge chains that used to be risen from the both shore sides, so to prevent pirate and enemy boats and sailing ships enter the Boka Bay and plunder the rich inner settlements. So this Verige straits was of the great strategic importance for the last third

There is barely a town in Herzegovina that was not erected alongside a freshwater river. Trebinje is no exception – its old town lines the banks of the

All along the wonderful coast of the Boka Bay there is a chain of small towns and picturesque fishermen settlements all of which has its own charm, story and history worthdiscovering – Igalo, Herceg Novi, Savina, Meljine, Zelenika, Kumbor, Đenovici, Baošići, Bijela, Kamenari, Kostanjica, Morinj, Risan, Perast, Ljuta, Dobrota, Kotor, Škaljari, Stoliv, Morinj, Prčanj, Muo, Lepetane, Gornja i Donja Lastva, Tivat, Krtoli, Luštica.. Boka-Kotor Bay is an exceptional cultural landscape created by the harmonious symbiosis of natural phenomena and man-made heritage. Kotor, first mentioned in 168 BC, was settled during ancient Roman times, when it was known as Acruvium,

Trebisnjica River that flows through the heart of the city. Trebišnjica River is the largest underground river in the world /98 km long/ and along with its underground courses it makes total length of 187 km. Trebišnjica River is composed of complex system of surfacant and underground water courses in Herzegovina and with its tributaries flowing through the vast cascaded carst fields features enormous hydro-potential.

Ascrivium, or Ascruvium and was part of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Kotor /then called “Cattaro”/ has been fortified since the early Middle Ages, when Emperor Justinian built a fortress above Acruvium in 535, after expelling the Ostrogoths. Walls of the mighty Kotor stronghold, one of the miracles of the Medieval fortification architecture of the Adriatic, have been established gradually during the period from the 9th till the 19th century, and make the continual row of walls around the historical urban core and the steep slope of the Sveti Ivan hill (San Giovanni) above the town. The ecclesiastical architecture of the BokaKotor Bay settlements has developed through the blending of different styles, especially Romanesque and Baroque. The city acknowledged the suzerainty of the Republic of Venice in 1420. In the 14th century, commerce in Cattaro /as the city was called until 1918/ competed with that of the nearby Republic of Ragusa /Dubrovnik/ and of the Republic of Venice. The city was part of the Venetian Albania

province of the Venetian Republic from 1420 to 1797, except for periods of Ottoman rule in 1538–1571 and 16571699. During the Venetian rule, between the 16th and 18th century the settlements of Perast, Dobrota, Prčanj and Stoliv developed and gained power, acquiring the status of wealthy seafaring communities. From a number of observation points and various points accessible by hiking along the Vrmac hill, open new vistas to the parts of the Tivat, Kotor and Risan Bays, or to the whole Boka Bay, from the highest peak of Vrmac – the St Elijah peak. Hikers fall in love with Kotor while climbing a 4km path up the mountain and guarantee such hike is certainly worth it. The rewards is seeing the old fortress on top of the mountain and the incredible views of Tivat and out to sea. After a pleasant walk up to the tiny Upper Stoliv village, while enjoying in wonderful scent of the wild basil and fresh air coming from the surrounding mountains, visitors are awarded with memorable panorama of the Boka Bay. Gornja Lastva is tiny Mediterranean settlement on the Vrmac Hill, at elevation of 300 meters, which divides the Tivat Bay from the Kotor Bay, 3 km away from the Adriatic road, by the local paved road. Gornja Lastva village is set on the sunny slope of the Vrmac Hill, and experiences the wonderful panorama of the Tivat Bay, and further to the Lustica Peninsula, direction of the open sea. Prčanj is renown as the maritime center from the time when seafarers sailed with their wonderful ships, but also for its curative factors as the air spa and natural climatic resort. Thanks to the special micro climatic conditions of Prcanj, Vrmac Institute for treatment of bronchitis, asthma and allergic diseases was established. The Church of the Holy Virgin in Prcanj was built in the period from 1789 till 1913 under plans of the Venetian constructor Bernardo Macaruzi. The maritime captain Ivo Vizin (1806-1868) from Prčanj was the first south Slavic seafarer who sailed around the world with his ship „Splendido”. On the Prevlaka peninsula – Ostrvo cvijeca, there are remains of the Saint Archangel Michael Monastery, which marked one of the most significant part of life of this area – from the 9th til the 14th century. On this place possibly was the Benedictine

Monastery, where at the half of the 13th century, Saint Sava had established the sea of the Zeta Bishop at the Prevlaka. The scenic Bay of Kotor itself has been a beacon of inspiration for generations of artists and poets – now the region is becoming internationally recognized as one of Montenegro’s principal attractions and cultural treasures. Kotor lies in the foot of the gigantic Lovcen Mountain in a fiord -bay- which is by its beauty and appearance, unique in the whole of the Mediterranean. The old town of Kotor is one of the bestpreserved Medieval towns in this part of the Mediterranean, whose patron for centuries was Saint George. Kotor succeeded in preserving its original form so typical for towns between the the 12th and the 14th centuries. The asymmetric structure of the historical center of Kotor feature narrow and curvy streets and a number of squares, combined with the numerous valuable monuments of medieval architecture, contributed that Kotor was placed on UNESCO’s “The world natural and cultural inheritance” list. The urban core of the old town of Kotor is characterized by intersection of narrow spaces of curvy streets and 12 smaller or bigger squares, that in the past had economic role – square of arms, square of flour, square of milk, square of wood…. The cultural inheritance of town of Kotor is enriched by the unique architectural styles and the ambient atmosphere. One method of really touching the imagination and romance the city has to offer involves the Kotor city walls. The fortification system of Kotor, which protects it from the sea, is actually a wall 4,5 km long, 20 meters high and 15 meters wide, and is preserved as one of the world’s historic values. The construction of the Kotor ramparts was initiated in the Illyrian period and they were built and rebuilt up in the 18th century. The oldest town gate of Kotor, of the three existing in the town, is the “South” Gate which was partially constructed in the 9th century. The “North” and the “Main” gates of Kotor were build in the Renaissance style by the first half of the 16th century. The most representative and most significant Romanesque monument of architecture in the Adriatic is the

magnificent Saint Typhon’s Cathedral, constructed in 1166 and built on the remains of the former temple from the 8th century. The dome of the Kotor Cathedral, dedicated to the town’s patron saint, is built in baroque style and pillars are covered with the famous Korcula Island marble. There are the remains of the frescoes from the 14th century. The valuable Treasury keeps golden reliquary artworks done by the local masters dating from the 14th till the 20th centuries. St Typhoon is always shown with a model of Kotor in his hands, and St. Bernardo of Siena standing as protector of sailors and all in contact with the sea. The most attractive are rosettes that were Romanesque and nowadays are decorated with the Gothic-Renaissance motifs. Besides the cathedral, in the hart of the Kotor, there are magnificent examples of sacral architecture originating from the 12th till the 20th century. The Romanesque Church of Saint Lucas was built during the reign of the Serbian Grand Duke Nemanja and his son Vukan in 1195. The Romanesque Church of St. Ana dates from the end of the 12th century and houses frescoes from the 15ht century. The Romanesque Church of St. Mary dates from 1221 and was built on remains of the pre Romanesque Church. The Church contains the remains of a monumental fresco painting as well as an early Christian Baptistery. The Gothic church of St. Mikhail /St Michael/ was built on the remains of the Benediction monastery from the 7th century and contains frescoes dating back from the 15th century. Lapidary is nowadays located in this Church. St. Clara’s Church dates from the 14th century with the extremely beautiful marble altars, the work of sculptor Francesco Cabianca, from the 18th century. The Church of Lady of health originates from the 15th century and it sits halfway up the St John’s Hill. The Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas was built by the beginning of the 20th century in the SerbianByzantine style and comprises valuable collection of icons and remarkable iconostasis. The Clock Tower is one of the symbols of Kotor and dates from the 17th century, occupying the central place in the square opposite the main gate. Below the Clock Tower of Kotor there is the Pillar of Shame which was used for punishment of an accused

person for steeling by placing him/her in front of the Pillar so that all the citizens of Kotor would know for his/her offense. Kotor is spectacularly interesting site taking in consideration modern relationships. Day of Saint Tryphon is traditionally held in Kotor and dates back to the 9th century. Ceremony in honor of the city saint, Sveti Tripun starts in late January and ends in the first days of February. Originally in front of the old Kotor Cathedral of Sveti Tripun, Boka Navy performs national dance of “kolo”, followed by liturgy and a procession through the city. The ceremony is followed by parade and church choirs, city music and dance groups. Kotor is home-town of famous seafarers and merchants who donated numerous patrician mansions to testify on their period which today proudly represents former glory and rich legacy of this magical town. There are nine palaces built in the old part of Kotor. Drago Palace, built in the 14th and the 15th centuries is located on the St Typhoon’s Square. It features beautiful carved Gothic windows and portals. Bizanti Palace is located on the main Arms Square. It was built in the 14th century, to be thoroughly renovated after the earthquake in 1667. Its windows, portals and stairs gives the Palace Renaissance appearance. Beautiful Pima Palace sits on the Flour Square and dominates the square by its beauty, as its owner and the head of the Pima family used to be one of the largest grain traders. It was built in the Renaissance-Baroque style in the 17th century. The baroque Palace of Grgurina is located on the Square of Museums /Pjaca od Muzeja/ and is

home to the Maritime Museum, with impressive collection of seafaring in the Gulf of Kotor and the cultural progress of the region. The Maritime Museum of Kotor is must see as it features the collection of ship models, instruments, weapons, maps, charters and other documents of outstanding scientific and historical interest. The Maritime Museum of Kotor treasure keeps maritime traditions from oblivion, and connects the sea in Kotor with their people, famous seaman, who have sailed from it towards the far away seas. Next to the very entrance in the medieval palace of Grgurina, there are two small cannons, which are symbols of the constant battle of the Boka seaman and pirates. Grgurina Palace was erected in the 18th century and belonged to the Grgurina aristocrat family. Specially interesting is authentically preserved Venetian order of all rooms – the house of one master has four rooms and a saloon. Grubonja Palace is located close to the Northern Gate and dates from the 16th century. It was built in the Renaissance style and on its facade is the coat of arms of the old Kotor pharmacy. Beskuca Palace sits in the street that leads from the main town square to the Flour Square. It was built in the middle of the 18th century. It is decorated with beautiful Gothic portal that is one of the most beautiful floral Gothic master works on the entire eastern Adriatic coast. The family legend has it that the members of the Beskuće Family arrived to Prčanj from Strp, as homeless persons, but quickly became rich, so the count Jozo Beskuća possessed 99 houses in Boka Kotor Bay and Italy. He wanted to own exactly hundred houses, in order to change his family name into

Stokuca /hundred houses/, but did not succeed. Climate of Kotor features warm and dry summers and mild wet winter. The warmest month is July with the average temperature of air of 25 °C and the coldest month is January with the air average temperature of 7,4 °C. The most often winds come from the south-east and the common wind is bura, coming from the North. Bathing season usually lasts for 144 days. The local market of Kotor is one more attraction of the town, as the market life ever since has pulsed here. We wanted to share with you an interesting story about the Kotor market by Marianne van TwillertWennekes. In the beginning of the 20th century – when Kotor was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – the serpentine donkey trail that leads from Mount Lovćen to Kotor was used a lot, mostly by Montenegrin women from the mountains going to the “bazaar” in Kotor to sell their farm products there. The trail was steep and they had very heavy burdens on their back. They entered the town carrying wine, ham, cheese and agricultural products. This was bartered against salt, olive oil, clothes and other luxurious goods. And in the afternoon they returned home, uphill, to their villages at an altitude of 1000 meters or more…

Lovcen National Park Lovcen National Park is located in the rocky region of the Dinaric Alps, and the south-western part of Montenegro, between Skadar Lake basin and the Boka-Kotor Bay and the Riviera of Budva. Slopes of Lovcen Mountain steeply rise from the coastal region of Budva and close to the long winding bays of Boka Kotorska, forming spectacular hinterland to the ancient seafarers’ town of Kotor. Lovcen National Park is bordered with highway Budva – Cetinje on the south and with the old Kotor road on the north. A scenic serpentine road takes us up /45 minutes of drive/ to the Lovcen National Park with over 6,000 hectares of natural contrasts: imposing snow-capped mountain peaks, stunning coastal views, 2000+ plants, 85 species of butterfly and over 200 bird types including many regal birds of prey. Visit to the Lovcen National Park and the most impressive Mausoleum of Petar Petrovic Njegos on the top of this gigantic mountain at the elevation of 1600 meters, provides memorable experience to visitors. Up to the Njegos Mausoleum, the most charismatic and cultured site of Montenegro, you can come by car from Cetinje, which is 13 kilometers away, passing through a certain climate spa and lush beech, oak and linden forests or more and more famous rest home Ivan’s riverbeds,

that is the scenic road not accessible to Njegos Mausoleum the whole year, due to snow which usually lasts until May. Lovcen National Park covers surface of 6220 hectares. Seat of the Lovcen National Park is in Cetinje. “Black Mountain” of Lovcen, after whom Montenegro got its name, rises to the spectacular altitude of 1749 m – the Štirovnik peak, and the Jezerski vrh peak, 1657 m. Mountain slopes of Lovcen are rocky, with numerous fissures, pits and deep depressions, providing a spectacular scenery. The cultural-historical heritage of the Lovcen National Park represents its significant value on this harsh mountainous area. The famous Lovcen Mountain’s serpentine curves make particular architectural and construction uniqueness. The old road to Kotor winds uphill to the picturesque Njegusi mountainous village, containing the Birth-houses of the important Montenegrin ruler and poet, Petar II Petrovic Njegos, and the last ruler of Montenegro the King Nikola I Petrovic. Petar II Petrović Njegoš (1813–1851) was born into the family which had given to Montenegro princes-bishops for more than a hundred years. The biggest and the most important monument of Lovcen National Park is Mausoleum of Njegos, that dominates from the breathtaking Jezerski vrh peak (Lake Crest), a place chosen by this eminent poet and

philosopher for his final rest. To the foot of the mausoleum leads the asphalt and pretty narrow road, which curves in the height, and when you reach the destination – to the mausoleum you can see the plateau and a pleasant restaurant in which you can find a billet shop and a mini souvenir shop, in which you can buy the tickets for visiting the mausoleum and also you can find various Montenegrin souvenirs. Petar II Petrovic Njegoš was the father of modern Serb national identity and the author of the most patriotic Serb epic “The Mountain Wreath”, which became the most popular reading item among South Slavs. As a Montenegrin, Njegos had had a first-hand knowledge and deep understanding of heroic oral epic since his childhood. Mausoleum of Njegos was built between 1970 and 1974 as the master piece of the Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic and a mixture of architectural and artistic work, with two caryatids at the entrance to the chapel – two marble caryatids represent two Montenegrin women symbolically keeping the kript and in front of it Njegos’s figure carved from granite, 28 tons in weight. Njegos Mausoleum is the highest mausoleum in the world. 461 stairs lead from parking lot to the imposing structure of Njegos Mausoleum. Down in the crypt is Njegos’s grave. The eternal resting place, that is, a marble sarcophagus with the remains of the greatest philosopher and poet of Montenegro of the 19th century is built from the

fine white marble. From the observation points, the unforgettable view stretches over Bokakotorska Bay and Katunska nahija, which was named „a rocky sea“ by Bernard Soe when he had spotted it. If the weather is nice and suitable for recording and photographing, from Lovcen Mountain you can see parts of Italy, Albania as well as parts of some mountains in Serbia. In 1846 Petar Drugi Petrovic built a church on top of Lovcen peak, and dedicated it to his reputed uncle Petar I the fist, later Saint Peter of Cetinje. Five years later, the bishop and poet made his final will to be buried in the church, predicting being accursed everyone who does not fulfill his wish. Due to very bad weather on this October of 1851 when Njegos died – the most famous poet of the Slavic south, the burial could have not been performed on the Jezerski vrh peak. This wish of Njegos was complied four years later. When the WWI started, in August of 1916 the remains of Njegos were secretly transferred to the Cetinje Monastery. The Austria-Hungarian artillery was shooting the are from the Boka Bay, which in some point destroyed the church chapel, which was restored by the Yugoslav king Aleksandar Karadjordjevic – the grandson of King Nikola I Petrovic. So it was how Njegos found his rest. The chapel of Lovcen – that became part of the Montenegro coat of arms, was demolished in summer of 1972, when

Shkoder Shkoder or Shkodra is one of the oldest cities in present Albania, among numerous Balkan settlements with rich heritage and history. Town of Shkoder features numerous traces of several millennia of human life, and today is important economic and cultural center of north Albania, with some 90,000 inhabitants. Skodra lies in the north-western part of Albania, on southern part of the plain of Mbishkodra, next to the Shkodra Lake-divided between Albania and Montenegro-, on the confluence of Drim, Kiri and Bojana – Buna Rivers,

the Montenegrin reign, lead by Veljko Milatovic, and with the support of Yugoslav authorities, decided to change the image of the Jezerski vrh peak and to built a mausoleum. Two years later, the Lovcen Mausoleum was completed and Njegos remains were buried again – against his final wish and in spite of harsh opposition of numerous Yugoslav intellectuals, among them Miroslav Krleza and Mesa Selimovic. mali-crnogorac-lovcen_339946900_n History of flora and fauna at a very small space plays important role in Lovcen National Park. Due to its position on the borders of the two completely different natural entities, the sea and the mainland, the Mediterranean and the mountainous areas, Lovcen Mountain is under the influences of both climates. All these different influences stipulated very rich and various floral and animal world. There are 2000 plants in the Lovcen National Park. Their combination at such small space caused creation of unique habitat.

Archangel Michael in the village of Raicevici, Church of St George in the village Raicevici, Church of St Nicholas in Dugi Do, Church of St Sunday in Erakovici, Church of St Sava in Erakovici, Church of St George in Vrba, Church of St Petka in Vrba, Church of St Nicholas in Kopito, Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Raicevici, Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration church – Ivanova korita. Area of Lovcen Mountain is abundant with numerous elements of local construction works. The old houses and rural ”guvna“ are authentic as well as the cottages in ”katuns“ – summer settlements of cattle breeders that all represent the interesting ethnographic facilities. The traditional meetings, folk dances and ceremonies are often preformed in those places. Famous song says : “Lovcen is our Holy altar”, determining Lovcen Mountain the true symbol of Montenegro that gives Montenegrin national identity.

On a comparatively small area of Lovcen National Park, the greatest number of sacral monuments is mostly located on the territory of Njegusi and Ivanova korita villages. The church constructions were made up from one frame with the walls of trimmed stones and the belfry “on the distaff“. Their construction works could be dated from the 15th till the end of the 19th century: Church of St

the mountain of Tarabosh, and the Rozafa Castle. Skadar Lake – Skadarsko Jezero (Skadar Lake, Scutari Lake) is the largest lake at Balkan Peninsula and the largest freshwater lake in the Balkans. It is named after the city of Skadar (Shkodra) in northern Albania (Shkodër in Albanian, Scutari in Italian and Skadar in Serbian). Two thirds of Skadar Lake is in Montenegro and the rest third lies in Albania. The origin of the name comes from the Greek expression of “Skoutari”. By the 7th century BC, the Illyrians (possible ancestors of the Albanian or

the Serbian nation), with constant presence of indigenous population of the historical Serbian states – the Zeta and Raska princes and kings : Mihailo, Bodin, Vladimir, Dobroslav, Gradina and Draginja, and the Medieval states ruled by Prince Jovan Vladimir, king Milutin and tzar Dušan. In 181 BC Shkodra, known as Scodrinon, becomes the capital of the Illyrian Empire. In 168 BC the Romans conquered the areas populated by the indigenous population when they had established the “Scutari” protectorate of Illyricum where converged the trade routes from the Danube River and the Aegean Sea. During the reign

of the Roman Emperor Diocletian Shkodra became seat of the Prevalitane province (Praevalis), while after the division into the East and West Roman Empire (395) it had come under the Byzantine rule, and the part of the Durres thema (thema Dyrrachion). After division of the Roman Empire in 395 and the territory of today’s Albania fall into the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire, when the present day Shkodra became important city of the Byzantine Empire. Town of Skhoder was the Serbian capital from 490 til 1171. In the centuries that followed, this territory was invaded by the Huns, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths. The Byzantine Empire re-conquers the region several times. During the 11th century, in 1043 Shkoder was seat of the Serbian lords from Zeta /today, Montenegro/, who developed the economy of the town and turned Shkodra into the center of the Medieval Zeta state, and in 1067 the Bishopric see. Shkodra was then transferred to the Albanian family of Balshaj, feudal rulers of northern Albania and parts of Montenegro. Threatened by the Ottomans, the Balshaj sold the town to the Venetians in 1396 who renamed the town Scutari and reinforced the castle. The Ottomans invaded what is now Albania in 1385, finally capturing Shkodra in 1479. There are two mountains around the town of Shkoder – the Brdanjola and Tarabos.

On the Brdanjola hill in 1445 18000 Serbian solders were killed in fights with the Ottomans, while on the Tarabos hill during the First and Second Balkan wars 14000 Montenegrin and Serbian solders were killed. Ottoman rule over the Shkoder area lasted more than 500 years. As Ottoman power wanes, Albanian feudal rulers called beys arise and flourish. Their holdings are merged into two semi-autonomous Ottoman units called pashalik. Shkodra was the center of the Bushatllinje Pashalik, whose leader Mahmut Pasha establishes an independent Albanian principality, only to be suppressed by the Ottoman Empire. In the middle of the 18th century intellectuals begun promoting teaching in Albanian /which was prohibited during the Ottoman reign/. After Russia defeated the Ottoman Empire, the provisional government was proclaimed in 1881 but was soon crushed by the Ottomans. During the Balkan Wars and World War I, fortified town of Shkodra was liberated by Montenegrin and Serbian armies from the Ottoman rule, with great loses during heavy and long fights. The Serbian army terminated its operations for Shkoder on 29 March, but King Nikola continued fights, willing to keep Montenegrin and personal and military dominance. Town of Skhoder surrendered to Montenegrin on the 10 April, but they were unable to retain it. Great powers

intermediated on negotiations in Cetinje, so King Nikola was, after a week of talks, compelled to give over the town of Shkoder to them, and so Great powers soldiers enthralled the town on 18 April. The Serbian and Montenegrin armies were compelled to leave in May 1913, in accordance with the London Conference of Ambassadors, which allotted Shkodra to the new country of Albania. During World War I, Montenegrin forces once again entered Shkodra on June 27th, 1915. In January of 1916, Shkodra was captured by Austria-Hungary and was the center of the zone of their occupation. After World War I, the international military administration of Albania was temporarily located in Shkodra, and in March, 1920, Shkodra was put under the administration of the national government of Tirana. During World War II, the Shkodrans fought against the Italian forces, and they were later resisted with demonstrations and strikes. The resistance movement was organized by the communists, which later formed Partisan fighting units. The town of Shkodra was liberated from the Germans on November 19th, 1944. Shkodra now has 50,000 inhabitants and is a booming trade town, with six foreign consulates, a chamber of commerce and a bazaar with 2500 shops and 80 professions. The city of Skodra retains its characteristic appearance, with narrow streets with

tall stone walls on both sides, and tall gates. The main street is characterized by two-store houses, the facade often in gentle colors, with the second floor often lovely ornamented (and different to the first floor). A large part of it has been transformed after World War II, with straight wide streets and tall residential and public buildings. The city expanded with several new quarters, and the industrial zone was built north of the city. Some of the landmarks and monuments of culture of Shkodra are the impressive Castle of Shkodra (Rozafa) built by the Serbian noble family of Mrnjavchevic – brothers Vukasin, Ugljesa and Gojko, the Turkish Bath (hamam), Mesi Bridge, the Mosque of Plumbi, and many old houses with an appearance characteristic to Shkodra.

man to wall up someone alive in order to calm down the demons that trashed their work. The brothers decided to sacrifice the first of their wives who would come the next day to bring their lunch. The two oldest brothers warned their wives and Rozafa, the wife of the junior son, was sacrificed. She accepted it but asked for a small interstice to be made in the wall so that she could breast-feed her young son. Rozafa’s fountain, indeed a seepage of calcareous water, can still be seen in the wall of the entrance gate of the fortress. It is a place of pilgrimage for pregnant women. This kind of legend is widespread in the Balkans and was illustrated by famous writers such as Ismail Kadare (The three-arched bridges) and Ivo Andrić (The bridge over the Drina).

The Rozafa fortress, dominating the town of Shkodra, is one of the most famous monuments in Albania. Built on a hill dominating the confluence of the rivers Buna/Bojana and Kiri, Rozafa Fortress features an oval shape, and a perimeter of 600 meters and an area of 6 ha. The Rozafa fortress and its seven towers date from the Middle Ages and the rule of the Serbs, and had been successively rebuilt by the Venitians and the Ottomans on the foundations of an early Illyrian-Serbian fortress. The building of the fortress is related by Rozafa’s legend. The three Mrnjavchevic brothers in charge of the building noticed that their daily work was always destroyed during the next night; they were advised by an old

The city of Shkodra lies next to the lake and the residents use the beach of Shiroka for recreation.

Kruja – Kruje The first Albanian feudal state was in 1190 declared at Krujë – Kroja by the Archont Progon. Progon’s older son, Gjin Progonović was Lord of Krujë and Elbasan from 1200 to 1208. The independent state of Albania founded by Progon lasted until the middle of the 13th century, after which the country relapsed into disunity. Kruja is the birthplace of 15th century hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg /Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu/ of the Serbian origin, the famous Albania’s national hero who gave the invading

products from the farmers living in the highland areas to the Adriatic coast.The Mesi bridge is 3.4 meters wide and its track has the form of a staircase. The Mesi Bridge is Monument of culture monument and one of the biggest of its kind in Albania.

Few kilometers north of Shkodra there is the stone viaduct-bridge at Mes /village called Ura e Mesit/, where the Drin River divides the fields from the hillside of Drishti and the Cukali’s highland. Mesi Bridge is over 100 meters long and was built about 1770 along the ancient trading road connecting Shkodra and Constantinople. The Mesi Bridge was constructed by Mehmet Pasha Bushatlliu, who governed his province wisely by ensuring that this important port region was able to develop extensive trade with the West. The Mesi Bridge made it possible to transport carriages and agricultural

Turks a serious beating. The grandgrand father of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg was Brailo a Serb from Zeta and the founder of the Kastrioti family – prominent Serbian landlord of Kanina in 1368 /Janina in Epirus/during the reign of the last Nemanjic king, tzar Uros, whose son Konstantin Branilovic later ruled the Polog area /today the northwest of the Republic of Macedonia, which was then part of Serbia/. After being expelled from Janjina, Branilo settled in the north the current Albanian territory. The next Kastriot mentioned in the sources is the son of Branil Pavle Kastriot, who was the

administrator of cities of Sinj and Donji Grad, near Debra. He had three sons: Constantine, Alex and Jovan (Ivan). Alex controlled a minor territories from several villages in northern Albania, and Constantine was the head of Serina near Durres. Of all brothers, Jovan (Ivan) is certainly the most famous, as he controlled the areas of Mat, Kruja, Mirdita and Debar. According to some sources, he participated in the Battle of Ploce on the side of Prince Lazar against the Turks, but the same year, he and other nobles in Albania fell under the Turkish rule. He was ally of

Despot Stefan Lazarevic and vassal of Sultan Bayezid. Ivan, son of Konstantin became ruler of the whole Mace area in Arbania, where he and his wife Vojislava Tribalda /from the noble Serb Family of Brankovic/ got around 1403 son George – Gjergj. Young George named himself Katriotich Skanderbeg. All them were of Orthodox faith. Gjergj Kastrioti converted to Islam soon after arriving at Adrianople in 1423, adopting the name Iskender, known as “Skanderbeg”, along the Turkish expression for Alexander. Skanderbey served the Ottoman Sultan and became a high ranking military commander. On Skanderbey father’s death, Sultan Murad II ordered Hasan beg, Ottoman Governor of Krujë, to take control of all the Kastriot property. Skanderbeg revolted in 1443, deserting the Ottoman army which opposed the western crusaders when they recaptured Niš commanded by Janos Hunyadi, a revered general known as the White Knight. Kastrioti-Skanderbeg entered the Turkish fortifications at Krujë and massacred the Turkish pasha and the Muslim contingent stationed there. The following morning the Kastrioti family’s standard – a red flag emblazoned with a black, doubleheaded eagle that has since been adopted as Albania’s national flag – fluttered in the breeze over the city’s castle. Here Kastrioti-Skanderbeg reportedly made his historic pronouncement: “I have not brought you liberty, I found it here, among you.” Skanderbeg obtained possession of Krujë by tricking Hasan beg with a forged instruction from the sultan, and announced his re-conversion to Christianity. Skanderbeg allied himself with the Araniti family, when marrying daughter of Gjergj Araniti, the Medieval ruler of the areas between the Skhumba and the Aos-Vojusha rivers. Skanderbeg called a congress at Alessio, inviting all the local chiefs, and was appointed commander of the Albanian armies which defeated the Ottomans in June 1444 and again at Danj in September 1448. Skanderbeg defeated a further Ottoman attack in 1456, although in 1457 a large Ottoman army occupied the plains of Albania up to the borders of Venice’s Alassio. With some assistance from the Vatican, as well as from the powerful lords of Naples and Venice, KastriotiSkanderbeg continued to repulse successive efforts by the Turks to

invade Albania over the next 25 years, including at Dibër and at Ochrid in 1462. Skanderbey’s major supporter, King Alfonso of Naples (1416-1458), made the Albanian general his vassal in 1451. Alfonso supplied the Albanian army with needed funds, military equipment, and additional troops, and also acted as a protector by extending sanctuary to Kastrioti-Skanderbeg and his family. After the Venetians were drawn into the war in 1463, Sultan Mohammed II agreed a peace treaty signed in April 1463, although the armistice soon collapsed. After unsuccessfully besieging Krujë in 1467, the Sultan returned the following year only to be defeated once more by Skanderbeg. Skanderbeg died on 7 January 1468 from natural causes. The legend has it that, on hearing of Skanderbeg’s death, Sultan Mehmed II exclaimed: “At last Europe and Asia belong to me! Poor Christendom. It has lost both its sword and shield!”. Look at the Kruje Fortress dominating from the 611 meters hill Skanderbey was defending and you can understand how it is possible that the Albanians were able to resist for so long against a much stronger opponent. Kruja citadel with the ruins of the Fatiha mosque was the stronghold of the Skanderbeg (George Kastrioti) between 1443 and 1468 in his struggle against the Ottoman Empire. Kruja is town 32 km north of Tirana, easy to reach on local transport, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Albania. Kruja has commanding views of dramatically snow capped mountains and green valleys below. Inside the Skanderbeg Citadel in Kruja, on the slope of Sari Salltiku mountain, there is a stunning wall painting of the Battle led by King Skanderbeg, with his notable goathelmet. Cobbled streets take you to the famous Kruja Old Baazar selling lots of traditional souvenirs and constantly visited with number of tourists throughout a year. The National Ethnographic Museum of Kruja is housed in the 18th century ‘urban’ building. There are around sixteen rooms in the Kruja Ethnographic Museum which exhibit several artifacts of the region from times bygone. Some of the exhibits of the National Ethnographic Museum in Kruja tell you about how people lived in ancient times. Adequate care has been taken to

ensure that original items are displayed in the museum. Some of the items displayed in the National Ethnographic Museum in Kruja date back to 500 years ago. The samples of embroidery on cotton, silk and woolen clothes are exquisite to behold. Other items like pottery and metal objects are also interesting to explore. Kruja is one of the most frequented tourist sites in Albania. Covering an area of 2,000 hectares, the Shtama Park is 25 km to the northeast of Kruja. The water sources “Queen Mother” is one of the most attractive spots in the Shtama Park with clean, cold and curative waters. The Park is frequented by a large number of visitors.

Tirana Sulejman Pasha Bargjini, a famous Janissary of the Ottoman Empire of Albanian origin, from Mullet, established the city of Tirana in 1614, capital of the strategic and economic position at the heart of Albania, in the beautiful setting between the ranges of Dajti Mountain and the coastal plains. The first constructions of Sulejman Pasha were a mosque, a bakery and a hamam (Turkish bath). A statue of Sulejman Pasha Bargjin stands in the square named after him in Tirana downtown. Tirana has been the capital of Albania since 1920. The city began to grow at the beginning of the 18th century, especially with the Spread of Islam. Well known architects of the Mussolini period in Italy Florestano de Fausto and Armando Brasini, were the masterminds which built the main square, that today bears the name of Albanian National Hero Scanderbeg, the huge boulevard, ministry buildings, national bank, the town hall and the Palace of Brigades (former royal Palace, today Presidential Palace). In the meantime, Italian architect Gherardo Bosio was asked to elaborate on previous plans and introduce a new

Durres Durres is town and the largest port in Albania, located in the west coast of Albania along the Adriatic Sea, only 39 km from Tirana and 30 km from Tirana International Airport. Durres is nearly joined to the capital by a ceaseless urban corridor full of hypermarkets

project in the area of present-day Mother Teresa Square. The “Mother Teresa” Square is the end of the long boulevard that during the Italian occupation was supposed to shape Tirana’s new fascist identity, supported by the puppet government. The town of Tirana was liberated on the 17 November 1944, after a fierce battle between the Communists and German forces, when communists seized power. After fifty years of communist parades and features, following the visit of the Pope Francis in 2014 the Scanderbeg Square – the main highlight of Tirana experienced full restoration and got its role of the central pedestrian zone of the Albanian capital. Today Tirana is not only the most populated city in Albania, but also the biggest political and economic centre in the country. In central Tirana, on Scanderbeg square there is the old mosque of Ethem Bey built during 1789 – 1823 as well as the Clock Tower, 35 meter high, built in 1830. The exterior wall paintings of the Ethem Bey mosque are of outstanding artistic quality and historic value. The Skanderbeg Square is the main point of Tirana, from which its main streets radiate and provides easy access to the

and car dealership. The city of Durres has a population of 100.000, but this number is doubled during the summer months, when the city attracts many families visiting the local beaches, and visitors from holiday homes. The Adriatic sea is perfect for a family holiday, as the water is warm and the

most important attractions and institutions. The Palace of Culture housing the Opera and Ballet Theater and National Library is next to the main square. In Tirana there are also other important institutions such as the National Historical Museum, Archaeological Museum, The Museum of Natural Sciences, the Museum of Albanian Philately, the National Gallery of Fine Arts, the Center of International Culture etc. One can enjoy the best view from the “Martyrs Cemetery” which contains the “Mother Albania” monument. The Adriatic sea and Dajti mountain are near to the city. It takes you less than one hour drive to reach the sea. A Great Park with an artificial lake is located immediately at the southern part of the Albanian capital. Petrela Tower is one of the oldest structures in Tirana. The Petrela tower in the center of the stronghold was built in the 5th century AD, although most of the remainder is Byzantine dating from between the 11th and 14th centuries. Nowadays Petrela Tower houses restaurant from where you can admire beautiful view while tasting delicious food.

sea is fairly shallow. The broad sandy beaches are popular with tourists. Durres is one of the oldest towns in Europe and was known by variety of names during its turbulent history /Epidamnos, Dyrrhachion, Dyrr(h)achium, Drač, Draç, Durazzo/. Durres was founded as Epidamnos in

627 BC by ancient Greek colonists from Corcyra and Corinth around a natural rocky harbor which was surrounded by inland swamps and high cliffs on the seaward side, making the city very difficult to attack from either land or sea. Epidamnos was seized by an Illyrian King Glaukias in 312 BC with the help of the locals. Queen Teuta attacked the city in 229 BC but withdraw when Romans arrived and included Epidamnos into their protectorate. Dyrrachium was established as the capital of Epirus nova, the Illyris proper or Illyria Graeca – a province of the Roman Empire founded by Emperor Diocletian (244311) during his restructuring of provincial boundaries, to become an archbishopric in 449. In the lateantique period, a series of large-scale works were carried out, including the construction of basilicas, villas, the round forum or macellum, the chapel in the amphitheater, the sewer system, etc. As per historical records, the town of Dyrrachium as the center of the Roman province of Epirus Nova during the reign of Emperor Justinian I (527565) included several towns within its territories : Amantia (Ploča), Apolonija (Apoloni), Aulon (Valona, Vlora, Aulona), Bulis (Byllis, Hekali), Dioklecijanopolis (Kostur, Kastoriju), Lychnidos (Ohrid), Scampa (Elbasan, Elbasani) and Pulcheriopolis (Antipatra, Berat, Belegrad). Romans and Illyrians were fighting for Epidamnos for the next centuries. During the Roman rule it was named Dyrrachium and was very prosperous settlement on the western end of the Via Egnatia Roman trading road that covered total distance of about 1120 km and connected Rome and Byzantium /Constantinople/. The Roman Emperor Caesar August made

the city a colony for veterans of his legions proclaiming it a free town /civitas libera/. After a powerful earthquake it was restored and became the strongest fortifications in the western Balkans. It was controlled by barbarian Ostrogoths and Bulgarians to be taken by Byzantines in the 9th century. It was passing from hands of Normans into the reign of Republic of Venice and Charles of Anjou. After devastating earthquake in 1273 Dyrrachium came into the rule of the Serbian Tzar Stefan Dusan in 1336 and passed into the hands of the Albanian family of Thopias when Tzar Dušan died in 1355. Venice Republic regained its control over the town in 1392 known as Durazzo in those years, as part of the Albania Veneta. It fought against the siege of Sultan Mehmet II in 1466 but fell to Ottoman control in 1501. Although it was Christian city quite early and raised to the status of Archbishopric in 449 and the seat of the Greek Orthodox metropolitan Bishop, under Turkish rule, many inhabitants of Durrës converted to Islam and many mosques were erected. The city that was renamed as Draç did not prosper under the Ottomans and its importance declined greatly. By the mid-19th century, its population was said to have been only about 1,000 people living in some 200 households. It was a sanjak center in Iskodra vilayet before 1912 /Shkodër Province of Ottoman Empire/ to be captured by Serbs during the First Balkan War. It was very active city in the Albanian national liberation movement. During the First WW Durrës was occupied by Italy in 1915 and Austria-Hungary in 1916-1918 and by Allies in October

1918. During the Second WW between 1939 – 1943 Albania was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1944. Albanian sovereignty was regained after the WWII and the communist regime of Enver Hoxa rapidly rebuilt the town establishing a variety of heavy industries in the area and expanding the port. Following the collapse of communist rule in 1990, Durrës became the focus of mass emigrations from Albania mostly to Italy. Durres is the most important seaport in Albania. Nowadays the city of Durres is well known for the nearby Durres Beach resort, its wonderful sand and warm sea water and hundreds of hotels, apartments, bars, cafes and restaurants. Durres sites of interest : The Roman Amphitheater – the largest amphitheater in the Balkans /discovered in 1966, nominated for UNESCO Heritage site/, the remains of a 15 km long aqueduct built during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, the Roman Baths, the Byzantine Forum, The Palace of the former King Zog, the Estrada Theater, the puppet theater and the philharmonic orchestra, the Archaeological Museum, the Ethnographic Museum and Museum of History, sandy beaches of “PlazhDurres” that are considered among the most beautiful in Albania. The neighboring district of Durres produces wine and a variety of foodstuffs.

Berat Berat is a picturesque historical town in south-central Albania, an UNESCO world heritage site and probably the most beautiful town of Albania. The outstanding well-preserved whitewashed stone houses of historical Berat perhaps are the best in the Balkans, forming the unique lower historical core and the beautiful Medieval Citadel district on top of the high hill with wonderful St Trinity Church, dominating the whole area and providing striking view. Due to a number of large windows of the old decorated houses overlooking the historical core, Berat is known as “the city of one-thousand windows” and in 1961 was declared as a Museum city. Berat lies on the beautiful slopes of the wild Tomorri Mountain /2416 meters/ where the Castle of the Berat city rises in a predominant hill. Berat is also set on the right bank of the Osum River which has cut a 915-metre deep gorge through the limestone rock on the west side of the valley to form a precipitous natural fortress, around which the town was built on several river terraces. The town of Berat is one of the oldest in Albania, keeping the earliest traces of human habitation and settlement dating from 2600-1800 BC. The long history of

Berat is in fact the history of encounters between different civilizations and people, so this secular and multi-ethnic structure is one of the main pillars of the Berat’s rich cultural heritage. The city of Berat was composed of two fortifications on both shores of the Osum River and is adorned with 40 Byzantine churches and some 30 mosques. Berat comprises a wealth of beautiful buildings of high architectural value and historical interest. Today is Berat specially known for its wonderfully preserved and well-refurbished Ottoman houses, which amazingly have survived the severe communist regime of Enver Hoxha. Berat region features 117 monuments of the First category and 460 of the Second category, including churches, mosques, buildings, bridges, castles, etc. The old part of the Berat city includes more than 20 preserved Byzantine churches (most built during the 13th century) and only one mosque for the use of Turkish garrison. Historical part of Berat features a castle, locally known as the Kalaja, most of which was built during reconstruction in the 13th century, carried during the reign of the Epirote despot Michael Angelos Comnenus,

although its origins possibly date back to the 4th century BC. The Kalaja citadel area of Berat numbers many Byzantine churches, mainly from the 13th century, several of which contain valuable wall paintings and icons. The Cathedral of the Dormition of the Holy Virgin was built in the 18th century and was part of the Metropolitan Bishop residence, set in a dominant place within the Berat Citadel, between the numerous noble houses, that are still inhabited. The Ethnographic Museum of Berat, situated in the 18th century Ottoman house in the Kalaja Fortress of Berat is worthvisiting. The ground floor has displays of traditional clothes and the tools used by silversmiths and weavers, while the upper floor features kitchens, bedrooms and guest rooms decked out in traditional style. Especially interesting is the mafil, a kind of mezzanine looking into the lounge where the women of the house could keep an eye on male guests being entertained (and see when their cups needed to be filled). Construction of the Old Varosh – historical part of Berat – Mangalem Quarter of Berat began during the 11th12th centuries. Today most of the Berat houses inside Mangalem Quarter are from the 18th-19th centuries. The

Mangalem quarter of Berat has the shape of a pyramid and is famous for its many windows and narrow hidden streets adding attraction and beauty. Similar to Mangalem, Gorica quarter is thought to have started being built during the 11th-12th centuries. Gorica Quarter of Berat is composed of many single-family houses which are cultural monuments and by two old Orthodox churches: the Church of Saint Spiridon and the Church of Saint Thomas. A fortress-settlement of the Greek Dassaretae tribe existed in the area as early as the 6th century BC. It was captured by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Livy (31.27.2) describes Antipatrea as a strongly fortified Macedonian city of southern Illyria in a narrow pass that the Romans sacked and burned. The town became part of the unstable frontier of the Byzantine Empire following the fall of the Roman Empire and, along with much of the rest of the Balkan Peninsula, it suffered from repeated invasions of various „barbarian” tribes. During the Byzantine period, town was known as Pulcheriopolis after the 5th century Byzantine Empress Pulcheria. During its long history Berat was captured and ruled by Bulgarians, Byzantines, Sicilians, Serbs. The Bulgarians captured Berat during the 9th century and named it Beligrad, which influenced the present name of Berat. In the 13th century Berat came into hands of the Michael Angel Comnenus, relative of the Byzantine tsar and Epirote despot, while in 1345 Serbs captured Berat. The local land lords of the Balsic Family reinforced their power during the reign of the last member of the Nemanjic Dynasty – tsar Uros /ruled from 1355 till 1371/. After death of tsar Uros, Balsics continued to spread their territories into the present south Albania. Balša II married Comnena, daughter of John Comnenus Asen, and so became the ruler of Valona, Berat, Kanina and Himara. In clashes with the local land lord Carlo Topi, Balsa managed to conquer town of Durres, ever since he singed his title the Duke of Durres. In order to regain his previous possessions and for revenge towards the Balsic Family, Carlo Topi asked help from the Turkish sultan Murat, who provided military support of the Hayredin pasha. The Battle between armies of Balsic’s and the Osman Turks waged on 18 September 1385, on the Sauri field,

near Berat /at that time called Belgrad/, in the Epirus land. In the bad defeat of the Balsic’s army in the Battle by Berat, the Balsic Family lost administration in the south and the central Albania, and were forced to defend their lands in Zeta. In 1386 Đurađ Balšić Stracimirović signed the Peace with the Ottoman Turks, who had eventually captured Berat in 1450, to remain rulers there until 1912. The name of Berat in Turkish registers was Arnavud Belgrad. At the end of the 18th through the beginning of the 19th century Berat became the seat of the Berat Pashalik – a Pasha was a governor of a province. The most distinguished Ottoman Pasha was Ahmed Kurt Pasha who undertook much building. After his death the city of Berat was attached to the Ionnian Pashalik of the Ottoman Empire, preserving its strategic position of the commercial caravan routes. During World War I the city was occupied by Austria-Hungarian troops, while under the postwar rule of King Zog – 1928 til 1939, Berat prospered to be one of the most important cultural and economic centers of Albania. During World War II Berat was occupied by the Italians, following their invasion of the country in 1939 and later by the Germans. Berat was a vitally important for the antifascist guerrilla was. Since November 1944 Albania started its long communist-controlled dictatorship of Enver Hoxha and Berat experienced the same. The name of Berat is derived via the Ottoman Turkish from the older Bel(i)grad /meaning “white city” in Slavic or Belgrade/, under which name it was known in Greek, Latin and Slavic documents during the early and Late Middle Ages. In the 17th century Berat was major merchant and craft center of the Ottoman Balkans specializing in wood carving. Above Berat is a mountaintop fortress rebuilt by the Byzantines in the 13th century, with a view over the broad Osum River valley, serpentine river and snow-capped peaks. Inside Berat’s walls there are dwelling houses and the “Onufri Museum”. Paintings and icons by the outstanding Greek painter Onufri – Onouphrios Neokastrites who worked in the regions that presently are on the territory of Greece, Albania and Macedonia during the 16th century, in the frames of the former

Ohrid Archbishopric are also exhibited there as well as various liturgical objects. The Onouphrios’ artistic spirit was to give rise to a school of Albanian icon-painting which we will call the “School of Berat”. Greek manuscripts on purple parchment written in silver and golden lettera, that are some of the world’s most ancient and most remarkable religious manuscripts, the Purple Codex of Berat, dating back to the 6th century AD and the Golden Codex of Berat, from the 9th century, are nowadays kept in Central State Archive in Tirana are written and artfully crafted in Berat. According to the legend of the history of the area, Tomor Mountain was personified by a giant who fought his brother Shpirag /also the personification of a nearby mountain/ for the love of a young woman. Although both were armed and fought valiantly, they both died in the end. The legend continues to explain that the sorrow-filled tears of the woman whose love they sought flowed deep and created the Osum River. The girl is said to have turned into the large stone, upon which the Berat castle was built. Berat is the hottest city in Albania and much warmer than the rest of Mediterranean. Thanks to its pleasant climate, abundance of delicious and tasty vegetables, fruits and grapes are harvested in Berat and surroundings. Olives from the Berat region are highly prized for their unique flavor and low fat content and often used in traditional cuisine, while extra virgin olive oil from Berat is exported worldwide. Berat is famous for the characteristic Tosk Poliphonic song, where 3 or 4 voices are accompanied by a chorus. This form of Albanian music is widely performed during celebrations in local restaurants and bars. The remarkable old town of Berat was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2008. Outside the city, the countryside features steep and spectacular canyons, fine for hikers and archaeological sites with histories and myths yet to be discovered. Berat is our favorite destination in Albania.

Ohrid Ohrid is the marvelous city in the beautiful south-western part of Macedonia, with some 42000 inhabitants, and also leading summer tourist center of the country which is often considered as the “Balkan soul” and the cradle of the Slavic literacy. The town of Ohrid, situated on the shore of Ohrid Lake, some 170 km south-west of Skopje – the Macedonian capital, features outstanding natural beauties, historical and cultural heritage, and since 1979 enjoys the protection of

water from three rivers, most of Ohrid’s water comes from another lake – Prespa Lake which is located on the other side of Galicica Mountain-National Park. Due to the high elevation, Prespa Lake spills its water down to Ohrid through mountain springs, the most important ones being Ostrovo and Biljana, located the Saint Naum Monastery and Ohrid town. With its ancient necropolis, fortress, amphitheaters, baths, arenas, parts of villas, temples and Byzantine basilicas, Ohrid is considered as one of the most ancient towns in the Balkans, a living

UNESCO. The wonderful Ohrid Lake covers picturesque area of about 350 sq km and is known for its crystal clear water, which is visible down to 22 meters, of a total maximum depth of 286 meters. The astonishingly clean and clear waters of the Ohrid Lake, together with the serene stillness of its mountain settings have captivated visitors since prehistoric times. Above the valley of Ohrid lake rises Mount Galičica with the Galičica National Park, recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an extremely important region and protected by law since 1958. Thanks to

the several hundred original rarities and the protected plant and animal species, Galičica has been internationally recognized as an Important Plant Area, a Primary Butterfly Area, as well as an Emerald Site (future part of the European Natura 2000 network). Because of the extraordinary biodiversity and the international significance, in 2014 Galičica National Park became part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

testimony of the cultural competition of the civilizations and the everlasting mark of their residence in the area. Ohrid abounds with a large number of archaeological sites dating from the Neolithic, antique and medieval periods, as well as numerous early Christian and Medieval Churches with marvelous mosaics, frescoes and icons, lovely beaches, and variety of accommodation facilities. The Ohrid Samuil’s Fortress – Samoilova Tvrdina is one of the most popular destinaion in Ohrid, built in the 10th century during the reign of Tsar Samuil of Ohrid, which was the political and ecclesiastical capital of the first

Bulgarian Empire (681–1018). Through history Ohrid was such an important religious settlement that it was claimed to had 365 churches – one church for every day of the year.

Wanderlust named Ohrid Lake as one of the most incredible lakes in the world. While the Ohrid lake is filled up by

Name of Ohrid comes from its location – built “on a hill” /”vo hrid”/. The whole old town of Ohrid is surrounded by walls and is crowned by the King Samoil’s Citadel. Ohrid Fortress is considered to be the oldest and best-preserved fortress in Macedonia. The ancient Ohrid is built in the shape of amphitheater with numerous tiny traditional houses looking towards the

lake. Those interesting houses of Ohrid were built in past centuries in genuine Oriental style of building – authentic Balkan architecture characterized by the beautiful balconies and houses with upper floors more spacious than the ground floor. The old part of Ohrid includes impressive bazaar with market, fountain, hammam and numerous handcraft workshops and various tiny shops and workshops that sell unique handwork items /Ohridski biser, jewelry, leather products, sweets, wood-carved items, Byzantine painting workshop and old Macedonian musical instruments and the famous Macedonian embroidery, outstanding Macedonian music CD…../ and take you back to the past Oriental times. The famous Ohrid pearls are made with usage of the scales of the endemic Ohrid Lake Plasica fish which makes them the unique in the world. Ohrid pearl is probably the best souvenir from Ohrid, as well as the most appropriate gift for a lady. Risteski Family in Ohrid is one of the original pearl-making families here, handcrafting and selling Ohrid pearls of the finest quality. “It might be because of the pleasant climate, or the lake, or the strong fort of Samuil, or for the flat and fruitful field, that have attracted blacksmiths, woodcarvers and craftsman of all arts and masters to make miracles in wood, stone, silver, copper and gold to settle here”. Camil Sijaric Icons of the Ohrid Icon Gallery comprising period of almost a millennium, from the middle of the 11th till the end of the 19th century are a remarkable and an indivisible segment of the rich cultural and historical heritage of Ohrid, the city where the Slavic literacy and culture have sprouted. Created in the Constantinople and Salonika icon workshops, or in the local icon workshops in Ohrid, these icons have been an inseparable part of the iconostasis in the churches they have been ordered and painted for and some of them best accomplishments of the Byzantine icon painting in whole. The Icon of Jesus Christ, dimension of 135 x 93 cm is kept, among the other precious art works, in the Gallery of Icons in Ohrid, set in the complex of the Holy Virgin of Peribleptos. Ohrid and the gorgeous Macedonia is our favorite destination of unrepeatable beauty.

Ohrid attractions and Places to see : Tzar Samuil’s Fortress, Antique Theater, Episcopal Basilica, St Clement’s Church of St Panteleimon at Plaosnik, Cathedral of St Sophia, Holy Mother of God Peribleptos Church – Holy Mother of God Peribleptos Church, Sveti Jovan Kameno – St John Theologian Kaneo Church, Saint Naum Monastery, Cave church, Icon Gallery, Velestovo, Vevcani and Trpejca villages… Monastery of Saint Pantelejmon Ohrid The Monastery of Saint Panteleimon, the protector of health is one of the oldest Slavic monasteries in the Balkans and the oldest Slavic monument of culture. With the construction of St. Panteleimon in Ohrid by Clement (893), downhill from Ohrid fortress, the Macedonian Slavs gained not only their first great religious and educational center but also the conditions necessary to develop their aesthetic feelings, accepting and continuing existing artistic forms but expanding into new directions as well. For example, Clement used a ruined three-conchae church for the foundation of St. Panteleimon, added some original parts, and obtaining thereby new “oval” forms. Saint Panteleimon Monastery had an extremely important role in the education of the Macedonians during the period of strong influence of the Byzantine Empire. The Saint Panteleimon Monastery stands on a hill overlooking the Ohrid Lake, which is today known as Plaošnik. Remains of the early-christian basilica were found on the old cult place above which the small three-nave church was erected in the 7th century. Saint Clement of Ohrid rebuilt the church and used it as a liturgical building and place for teaching his disciples his variation of the Glagolithic alphabet, known as the Cyrillic alphabet. Clement personally built a crypt inside the Saint Panteleimon Monastery in which he was buried after his death in 916, his tomb still exists today. Many archaeologists believe that Clement himself designed and constructed the Saint Panteleimon Monastery. Clement, along with Naum of Preslav would use the monastery as a basis for teaching the Glagollithic and Cyrillic alphabets to the Christian Slavs thus making it a university. Clement built his monastery on a restored church

and a Roman Basilica of five parts (the remains of the basilicas can still be seen outside the monastery). Judging by the architectural style and design of the monastery, researchers say that Saint Clement intended for his building to be the literary school for disciples, thus it is believed to be the first and oldest discontinued university in Europe. The common themes for fresco paintings in Saint Panteleimon, Ohrid are “Birth of Mother God”, “Transfiguration”, “The Entry into Jerusalem”, “Descent from the Cross” etc. Among the paintings in the Monastery of Saint Panteleimon, the fresco of “The Lamentation of Christ” is fascinating. This painting is considered to be a masterpiece by many art historians. The exterior of the monastery contains a large number of finely detailed mosaics not far from a stone Baptismal font used to baptize his disciples. Saint Sophia Cathedral Ohrid St. Sophia Church is one of the most impressive medieval buildings in Ohrid and a unique work of architecture of the Byzantine region. St Sophia is a large three-nave cathedral with a dome at the center, built on the foundations of an old cult during the period of the Tzar Samuel. In the 11th century the Saint Sophia basilica in Ohrid was thoroughly renovated when it was fresco decorated. In 1317, during the Serbian rule, the monumental exo-narthex with its open galleries and two towers ending in small domes, a rare architectural accomplishment both in Macedonia and the world in general, was added to the Church of St. Sophia in 1317, what greatly contributed to the beauty of Saint Sophia Church. During the Ottoman era Saint Sophia Church in Ohrid was converted into a mosque. Frescoes of Saint Sophia Cathedral are considered the best preserved Byzantine paintings. The frescoes in the Saint Sophia Cathedral are characterized by the postures of the figures and the archaic forms, united in an artistic and iconographic whole unique to church painting of the time. The best preserved frescoes of St Sophia Cathedral in Ohrid are in the altar with the Holy Virgin on the throne holding little Christ in her arms. Six angels are kneeling towards the Holy Virgin approaching her from the southern and the northern wall. Beneath the Holy Virgin fresco there is “Communion of apostles” scene which

is one of the most interesting fresco of the St Sophia Church. Among depicted portraits of numerous saints and patriarchs in Saint Sophia Cathedral, there are portraits of brothers Cyril and Methodius, the first Slavic missioners

and founders of the First Slavic University and St Clement of Ohrid, their disciple. Since its builders blessed it with wonderful acoustics, the Cathedral of Saint Sophia and its front garden are the

main stage of the annual Ohrid Summer Festival.

Saint John Bigorski Monastery

during the management of Abbot Arsenius, the Monastery of Saint John Bigorski – Sveti Jovan Bigorski was expanded and enjoyed a large number of Mijak benefactors and makes the center of spiritual life of Mijaks.

Fylipovic-Garkata from Gari village, with the help of his brother Marko and with active participation of a number of distinguished Miyak wood-carvers. The zographs Michail and his son Dimitar from Samarina, Epirus village, at that time painted the throne icons, the festive icons and the icons of the holy apostles for the iconostasis in the Bigorski monastery. With the accomplishment of the iconostasis, Miyak wood carvers have acquired a reputation of the best and the most wanted wood carvers on the entire Balkan Peninsula. Many scenes, compositions and individual figures have been engraved, being presented in movement and with an expressed dramatics in some scenes, like the scene with Beheading of St John. The beauty of the Bigorski Monastery iconostasis is enriched with many animals and birds, interwoven with floral ornaments with a realistic presentment of a grape vine, flowers of narcissus, garden roses, oriental fruits, as well as the favorite motif of the Miyak wood carvers, cracked pomegranates. It may be rightfully stated that the creations of the Mijak wood carvers on the

Sveti Jovan Bigorski Monastery – Saint John Bigorski Monastery is located on the road connecting Gostivar and Debar, in the vicinity of the tiny Rostuse village, in west Macedonia. Sveti Jovan Bigorski Monastery /Saint John the Baptist Bigorski Monastery/ is the 19th century monastery standing on the slopes of Bistra Mountain, within the area of the Mavrovo National Park, above the banks of the gorgeous Radika River. The present day monastery of Saint Jovan Bigorski was constructed over the remains of an older church dating from 1021, which by some historical records was the endowment of the Serbian King Holy Jovan Vladimir – Sveti Jovan Vladimir. It was heavily destroyed by Ottomans in the 16h century and only small church remained to be quickly restored afterward. The Saint Jovan Bigorski Monastery – Sveti Jovan Bigorski was restored in 1743 by the monk Ilarion and local Mijaks, when several monastic cells were added. At the beginning of the 19th century,

The ornamented wonderfully woodcarved iconostasis of the Bigorski Monastery church was elaborated in the 1830s which belongs to the most fascinating work of this monastery. The iconostasis of Saint John Bigorski Monastery is divided into six horizontal bands. The first is basically composed of rectangular fields that feature ornaments of flora and fauna. The second zone, which moved throne icons, ends with a figure of an eagle with spread wings. The third area is divided into three smaller horizontal parts that are symmetrically distributed angels, grapes and vines, etc. Above them are two rows of icons with depictions of apostles. In the center of the Bigorski iconostasis is the large cross with the Christ Crucifixion. Besides the iconostasis, the arch priest’s throne and the prior’s chair had been manufactured by the wood-carver’s group of Petre

Skopje Skopje is the capital city of Macedonia and its largest settlement, with about a third of total population. Skopje is political, cultural, economic and administrative center of Macedonia. In the ancient time Skopje was known as Scupi which is present day archaeological site at the suburb of the town. The territory of the present day Skopje has been inhabited since at least 4000 BC and Neolithic remains have been found in the Kale Fortress. In 148 BC the city of Scupi became part of the Roman Province of Macedonia when it developed rapidly into large religious center with its own bishop. In the year of 518 the Scupi city was destroyed by a disastrous earthquake. Wonderful architectonic buildings, numerous public baths and the ancient amphitheater built in Roman style, large basilica with mosaic floors of Scupi have completely disappeared. After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 Scupi became part of the Byzantine Empire with the seat in Constantinople. There were the Byzantines and the Bulgarians competed over the rule on Scupi in the early medieval period. Byzantine Emperor Justinian I constructed Kale Fortress in the 6th century. From 1189 Scupi was under the Serbian Medieval Kingdom and its capital city til 1346. In 1392 the

city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks who named the town Üsküp. The town stayed under Ottoman control over 500 years. During that period numerous typical Ottoman structures had been built in the oriental architecture such are Bezistan, Stone Bridge, Daut Pasha Hamam and Cifte Hamam, Isa Bey Mosque, Ishak Bey Mosque /Aladja Mosque/, Kapan Han, Kursumli Han, Suli Han, Sultan Murad Mosque, Mustapha Pasha Mosque, Yahja Pasha Mosque…. In 1912 Skopje was named the capital of the Vardar Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as per subdivision of the Kingdom of Serbia during the Balkan Wars. After the First World War Skopje became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes /Kingdom of Yugoslavia/. In the Second World War Skopje was conquered by the Bulgarian Army, which was part of Axis powers. In 1944 Skopje became the capital city of Democratic Macedonia /later Socialist Republic of Macedonia/ which was a federal state and the part of Democratic Federal Yugoslavia /later Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/. The city of Skopje developed rapidly after the World War II but this trend was interrupted in 1963 when it was hit by a disastrous earthquake. In 1991 Skopje became the capital of independent Macedonia.

Skopje is located on the upper course of the Vardar River and is located approximately in the middle of a major Balkan route that runs north-south between Belgrade and Athens. The Vardar River divides the city in two, the old part and the newer part. The latter has a nice pedestrian street from the Macedonia Square to the old train station. Skopje is the birth place of Mother Teresa, and there is a nice memorial house in her honor and off course a sculpture of her. Skopje lies at an elevation of 225 meters. Skopje has humid subtropical climate with hot and humid summers and cold, wet, and often snowy winters. Two artificial lakes of Skopje are located just few kilometers outside the city center – Matka and Treska Lakes and are supplied by the Treska River. Skopje also has a glacial lake called Jakupica. Most of the Ottoman monuments of Skopje, many from the 15th and the 16th centuries, are clustered in and around a charming bazaar district, which itself is a rare (and living) example of such an urban ensemble that evolved between the 15th and the 19th centuries. The Old Bazaar of Skopje /Macedonian Stara Čaršija from the Turkish, meaning marketplace/

in Skopje represents the old commercial heart of the town and the largest bazaar in the Balkans /besides the one in Istanbul/. The Skopje Old Bazaar is situated on the eastern bank of the Vardar River and had been the city center for trade and commerce since the 12th century. Ottoman sultan Murat II built a large congregational mosque on the Gazi Baba hill in 1430, perhaps on the foundations of a church that stood derelict since the Ottoman conquest in 1391 or 1392. Ishak Bey, a lord of the march appears to have been the adopted son of no less than the town’s conqueror. He sponsored a cluster of buildings on the edge of the emerging commercial district, in the depression below the fortress, including a hospice with a built-in oratory (zaviye/imaret), a seminary (medrese), a public bathhouse (hamam) for both sexes, and a hostel for merchants (han). It rapidly grew and reached its peak during the Ottoman rule what is evidenced in over 30 mosques, several caravan-serays, hamams /baths/ and other Ottoman structures and monuments. The hans, of which there soon were several, served the traders doing business in the commercial Skopje district. They were housed in cells in two-storied buildings around an enclosed courtyard. The bathhouse, testimony to a revived bathing culture, was important not only in terms of hygiene but also as a social space, in

particular for women. Ishak Bey also built the structure presently known as the Aladža (Alajja – ‘Colored’) Mosque (1438/9) which served to a variety of functions, including the lodging and feeding of guests (often dervishes), staff, and dependents, as well as communication and ritual. Ishak Bey’s intention must have been to develop ‘his’ Skopje into an urban center which was continued by his son Isa Bey, better known as the founder of Sarajevo, another modern Balkan capital. In the period between the 16th and 17th century, the Old Bazaar of Skopje reached its urban and economic zenith, developing into one of the largest and most significant oriental old bazaars in the Balkans. The mosque of Mustafa Pasha (1492) in Skopje, recently restored, has preserved much of the grandeur of the Ottoman ‘classical age’. The domed cube flanked by a three-bay portico and a lofty, slender minaret is the prototype of many mosques built thereafter in the Balkan provinces, especially in Bosnia and Hungary. The portal of the Mustafa Pasha’s mosque may rank as one of the finest of its kind in the Balkans. Although Islamic architecture is predominant in the Skopje Old Bazaar, there are several Christian churches as well. The Old Skopje Bazaar is present day a protected national landmark and contains numerous old craftsmen shops making the “market on a human scale”.

The Suli Han is also situated in the Skopje Bazaar and represents a monument of culture. Suli Han has been considered as one of the most beautiful edifices from the first half of the 15th century whose structure consisted of wide square atrium around which there was a porch with arches from where the rooms were entered in. After the restoration, Suli Han inn in Skopje has more functional usage and it houses the Museum of the Old Skopje Bazaar and the Academy of fine Arts of Republic of Macedonia. On 21 June 2011, the controversial, colossal monument of Alexander the Great, officially called “Warrior on a Horse” was finally erected in Skopje’s central square. Close to 30 meters high (including the 10-metre concrete pedestal), the sculpture dominates the capital’s central area. The monument, which reportedly weighs 30 tons, is higher than the surrounding buildings. VMRO revives the myth of Alexander the Great, but many Macedonians are still perfectly comfortable with their Slavic roots. All around the huge square and the Stone Bridge there are several monumental buildings that look like enormous palaces being built, surrounded

with also very monumental and impressive sculptures representing most significant historical persons of Macedonia – Justinian I, Saint Naum, Cyrill and Methodus, Goce Delcev…. Places to see in Skopje : The Clock Tower /Saat kula/, Daut Pasha’s Bath, Kuršumli An, The Aqueduct, The Stone Bridge, Kale Fortress, Mustafa Pasha’s Mosque, Saint Savior Church, Saint Panteleimon Monastery Gorno Nerezi village, Matka Canyon… Sveti Spas Church /Saint Savior/ Church Skopje Situated in Skopje’s Old Bazaar, the Church of the Holy Savior – Crkva Sveti Spas is characterized by an unusual architectural design and the modest outside appearance. Sveti Spas Church Skopje is three-nave structure, with the arched central nave above which sits the wooden belfry. The courtyard of Sveti Spas Church in Skopje has steps leading down to the tiny church which was built here in the early 19th century on the ruins of an earlier church which had been destroyed in the fire of 1689. Namely, half of the Church of Sveti Spas had been constructed underground due to the 17th century edict of the Turkish Sultan that prohibited Christian structures from being higher than mosques. The Holy Savior Church Skopje contains one of the most

beautiful wooden carved iconostasis in Macedonia, an early 19th century creation of the famous ‘Mijak School of Macedonian wood carvers’. The iconostasis of Sveti Spas Church Skopje is 6 meters high and 10 meters long. On this wonderfully carved iconostasis, the carving group had managed to show numerous scenes from the bible, important geometrical ornaments and figures from the flora and the fauna, as well as a little self portrait while working. Part of the fresco painting on the southern side was found from this older church which dates from the 16th century. The founder of the Macedonian Liberation movement of 1903 and its most prominent member, Goce Delcev, is buried in the courtyard of the Sveti Spas Church in Skopje. Mustapha Pasha Mosque Skopje Mustafa Pasha Mosque stands on a plateau above the old Skopje bazaar, and is the most beautiful Islamic building in Macedonia. It was built in 1492 by Mustafa Pasha, vesir on the court of Sultan Selim I. The Mustafa Pasha mosque is quite elegant and intact, and no additions have been made through the years. The interior is beautiful, simple and spacious. Take few steps back to observe the game of the domes of the fountain, the porch and the mosque. In the turbe next to the mosque the daughter of Mustafa

Pasha is buried. The Mustapha Pasha Mosque Skopje has a pleasant rose garden and it offers fine views over the bazaar. Millennium Cross Skopje The Millennium Cross is a 66 meters-high cross situated on the top of the Vodno Mountain in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. The cross was constructed to commemorate 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia and the world. The construction of the Millennium Cross began in 2002 and was funded by the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Macedonian government and donations from Macedonians from all over the world. The cross was built on the highest point of the Vodno Mountain on a place known since the time of the Ottoman Empire as “Krstovar”, meaning “Place of the cross”, as there was a smaller cross situated there. On 8 September 2008, the independence day of the Republic of Macedonia, an elevator was installed inside the cross. Restaurant and a souvenir shop are next to the cross.

Gracanica Monastery The Gracanica Municipality is located in the central part of Kosovo, on the eastern edge of the Kosovo valley, at the foot of the Veletin and Strazevac Mountains. The Gracanica Municipality borders in the north with the Pristina Municipality, on the south with Lipljan, and in the west with the Municipality of Kosovo Polje. The Church of Ascension of the Holy Virgin is the only remained part of the Medieval Gračanica Monastery, the church from the 13th century, as the seat of the bishop of Lipljan built on the remains of the former early-Christian basilica dating from the 6th century. In the southern part of the Gračanica Monastery altar, probably in the middle of the 14th century, Lipljan Bishop Teodor was buried, so the scene of his funeral has been depicted which commemorates this event. During the archaeological excavations in Gracanica Monastery complex, carried out in 1963, the foundations of the three-nave earlybyzantine basilica have been found. The construction and painting of the present-day Gračanica Monastery church was completed by the year 1321. Gračanica Monastery was built as the last endowment of King Milutin and was dedicated during the Middle Ages to the Annunciation, while today it celebrates the Ascension of the Holy Virgin. The Gračanica Monastery church has the shape of a developed and inscribed cross, one inside the other, with five domes, including an open outdoor narthex that was soon appended to the church, probably together with a bell-tower on the western side. Gračanica Monastery represents a masterpiece of the late Byzantine architecture, captivating the onlooker

with its unity of structural and decorative elements. Particularly notable is the arrangement of the masses and ornamentation on the facade of the Gračanica Monastery church, emphasizing vertically. The central dome of Gračanica Monastery rests on four free-standing pillars. Above the spaces between the crossshafts of the Gračanica Monastery, four smaller domes give a regular structure to the whole crowning complex. The diaconicon and the prosthesis of the Gračanica Monastery are separated by full walls. Between the nave and the narthex of the Gračanica Monastery there are wide, heavy pillars and the catholicon is on a higher level. The church of Gračanica Monastery was built in alternate courses of brick and stone. At the end of the 14th century an exo-narthex was added with double arcades, but these were blinded in the 16th century. The Gracanica Monastery was exposed to new damages toward the end of the seventeenth century, in the war between Austria and Venice against the Turks, after the second siege of Vienna – in which the Serbs took part on the Christian side. They rebelled against the sultan Jeghen Pasha terrorizing Serbia, who removed the leaden cross and pulled out the floor tiles, together with the treasure hidden in the church by Patriarch Arsenije III. The frescoes of Gračanica Monastery were painted in 1321-22 and have been well-preserved. In the Gračanica Monastery church three kinds of painting can be discerned. The earliest Gračanica Monastery frescoes are found in the nave, that are the work of the so called “King Milutin’s court school” whose achievements belong to the best trends of the classical art in the period of the Paleologues, whereas two later ones can be recognized in the narthex.

The focal paintings of Gracanica include the Festival Cycle, the Passion and the miracles of Christ. Inside the narthex, there are portraits of the founders: King Milutin and Queen Symonis, Queen Helen d’Anjou (king’s mother) as a nun and King Milutin as a monk. Of particular importance is the Nemanjich dynasty genealogy, the first ever painted, which starts with Stefan Nemanja and ends with Milutin. The compositions in the nave deal with the earthly life of Jesus and the ecclesiastical calendar. The theologically knowledgeable, eloquent Gračanica Monastery painting has been best preserved inside the church itself, while in the exo-narthex which was closed and painted again in 1570, this has been achieved to a slightly smaller extent. The master-painters of Gračanica Monastery supposedly were Michael Astrapos and Eutichios with their assistants. Having been quite damaged by the Turks as early as the period 13791383, the church of Gračanica Monastery was restored in 1383. After the final fall of these regions under Turkish power, the monastery of Gračanica experienced a difficult times filled with looting and plundering. In 1688 the Turkish Yegen-pasha looted Gračanica Monastery when he needed nine horses to take all the valuables to Constantinople. Gračanica Monastery grew poor particularly during the course of the 18th and 19th centuries. Of the once famous Gračanica Monastery treasury there are only several precious icons left, dating from the 16th-17th centuries, several manuscript books, including an octoteuchos, however, printed in 1539 in the printing house operating in Gračanica Monastery at the beginning of the 16th century. Gračanica Monastery was several times hit by grenades launched by Albanian

Sopoćani Monastery Sopocani Monastery is the Medieval Monastery of Serbia set in deep seclusion, 16 km west of Novi Pazar, near the spring of Raska River, close to the Stari Ras – the center of the Serbian Medieval State. Sopocani Monastery is the magnificent endowment of King Uros I (1243-76, the youngest son of the King Stefan Prvovencani /the First-crowned/ and Ana Dondolo, Venetian princess), in Medieval times known as the Sopot Monastery. Around 1255 King Uros married the princess Helen of Anjou, relative of the king Charles of Naples and Sicily and the French king Louis IX, and spent his last years in Sopocani Monastery as the monk Simeon, or some records have it that King Uroš retired to the southern part of the state (Hum), where he became a monk and subsequently died (perhaps in 1277). From the original Sopocani Monastery rich compound remains only the Church of the Holy Trinity built during the 1260s. The outer narthex of Sopocani Monastery with the high bell tower was added in the first half of the 14th century. The prestige of the Sopocani Monastery sanctuary was secured by the burial of the founder, King Uros, and his Queen

mother Ana Dandolo, his father Stefan the First-Crowned and Grand Duke Djordje, Uros’s uncle and Archbishop Joanikije I, as the King had prepared tombs for the first hegoumenos of Sopoćani, his mother Queen Ana, for himself and the then archbishop, Joanikije. Shortly after the clash with the Turks in Kosovo Polje (1389) Sopocani Monastery suffered serious damage and had to be restored by the Serbian Despotate when certain changes were done and special attention was paid to strengthening of its fortifications. At the beginning of the 16th century Sopocani Monastery was without the lead roof and the narthex was partially destroyed. In the 16th century Turkish violence forced the monks of Sopocani Monastery to flee to the secluded Crna Reka Monastery, when they took the coffin with the body of King Stefan the FirstCrowned. Brought back to life in the late 16th century, when it was thoroughly renovated and numbered over 100 monks, the Sopocani Monastery was finally deserted in 1689. At that tragic case Sopocani Monastery was ruined and set aflame by the advancing Turks who chased the rebellious Serbs northwards. Sopocani Monastery was left in a pitiful state for the next two and a half centuries until

it was finally renovated in 1929. Renovation of Sopocani Monastery continued after the Second World War and great attention was given to conservation of the frescoes. Although from the outside Sopocani church looks like a basilica with three naves, it is actually a single nave structure whose semicircular side chapels were incorporated to a single line in the 14th century enlargement. The Church of Sopocani Monastery is built of dressed travertine and was plastered on the outside. The tall Sopocani Monastery church, top by relatively small dome, with huge wall surfaces decorated only by Romanesque stone windows and arches, provides a new sense of grandeur and size that set an example for the subsequent royal endowments. The outer open narthex, set with the three-floor tower in front, was built in the time of King (later Emperor) Dusan. Since Sopocani Monastery tower is freshly reconstructed, it has only a few traces of frescoes. The remains of other monastery buildings have been discovered in the Sopocani Monastery complex including refectory on the western side accross from the entrance to the church. The Sopoćani

refectory was rectangular with an apse on the northern side. Stepping into the inner narthex we observe the magnificent ensemble of Sopocani frescoes that are painted in bright colors and decorated with golden leaves. On the north wall of Sopocani Monastery narthex is a historical composition representing the Death of Queen mother Ana Dandolo: lying on the catafalque, she is surrounded by her son Uros and princes Dragutin and Milutin, while Uros’s wife Jelena is seen kneeling in front; Christ and Virgin Mary receive the Queens soul. The portraits of King Uros’s family, all standing, are to bee seen once more along the east and the south walls. Side chapels are dedicated to St Steven, protector of the Nemanjic’s, and to St Stefan Mirotocivi ( i.e. Stefan Nemanja), the founder of the famous Serbian dynasty. In the latter can be seen scenes from his life and the process of transposition of his remains/relics from Chilandari Monastery to Studenica Monastery. South of the door leading into the Church are figures of Emperor Dusan and Jelena and their son Uros. In the Sopoćani Monastery naos are the oldest frescoes (dating from 1273/4), considered to be the peak not only of Serbian but of all European painting of the time. Their expressionist strength and gracefulness, bright colors and bold compositions all keep alive in the spirit of classical antiquity and predate the works of Italian Renaissance. The spacious surfaces of the simple internal architecture of the Sopoćani Monastery church are covered with beautiful and serious athletically developed figures which are powerful and well designed. That decoration is perfectly harmonized with the space, yet not in the same way as in the paintings of the thirties of the same century and demand distance for viewing. The magnificent achievements in fresco decoration enabled the Sopocani Monastery to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage list of protected monuments. Although damage over time has effaced almost half of these works and the former golden background has disappeared totally, one still admires the excellence of the ensemble. The compositions here are unusually large and therefore comparably few in number. The most impressive among

Sopoćani Monastery frescoes is the scene of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary on the western wall, bearing intentional similarities with the composition of the Death of Queen Ana. This fresco was proclaimed the most beautiful Medieval fresco in the world at the Exhibition in Paris in 1961. On the western wall there are cycles of the Great Feasts : Crucifixion of Christ, Descent into Hell, Nativity, Presentation in the Church and Transfiguration are particularly impressive. The founder’s composition is located on the southern wall of the naos next to the sarcophagus where King Uros I the founder of Sopocani Monastery was buried. This composition depicts Christ on the throne with the Virgin leading Stephen Nemanja, Stephen the First Crowned and King Uros carrying the model of the Church. The central position in the painting is reserved for Christ holding in his hands Mary’s soul. In the lower zone are the tall figures of prophets, that give the impression of being both physically strong and spiritually wise. In the apse one can see the Adoration of the Lamb with a line of Serbian Archbishops joining the rest of the Christian saints. The usual founder’s composition is painted on the south wall. The Sopoćani paintings are works of a most refined quality and purity of style in the Byzantine art of the period. The talented artists of the Byzantine school at Sopoćani, at the beginning of the second half of the 13th century, produced a work which through the simple, serene and perfect harmony of its features, integrated into the established concepts of monumental art, has never been equaled in the realm of medieval art in Eastern Europe. This particular group of monuments realistically portrays the earliest center of civilization in the ancient Serbian state and contributes ample evidence of the birth and development of artistic and cultural activity in medieval Serbia, which through its achievements, was to attain the highest standards in the art and culture of the Byzantine empire and the regions of central Europe. The important element of the entire experience of the monastery is surely hospitality of its residents – monks. Great attention is paid to the cordial reception and hospitality in areas where the Christianity is prevailing

religion, so during time those activities became not only the religious obedience, but also part of everyday routine. In every monastery, by the blessing of the hegumene – the Abbott, one of monks is entitled to receive visitors, tell them facts about the monastery, frescoes and historical events. The monk invites visitors into the dining room for refreshment and the spiritual discussion, which is often one of the main reasons for visitation of the holy place. The group of monuments at Stari Ras and Sopoćani is of exceptional interest on account of its significance in so many different spheres and its unity of composition; it provides a deeper and wider grasp of the historical, sociological, artistic and cultural aspects of the development of the Serbian nation and its contribution to the culture of Slavonic and other nations during the Middle Ages.

Saint Apostles Peter and Paul Church Ras The Church of Sts Apostles Peter and Paul in Ras, the former seat of bishops of Raska and the Serbian Medieval state is located on the tranquil hill above Novi Pazar. According to historical sources, in the church of the Apostles Peter and Paul was the cathedral of the Bishops of Raška (today Peter’s church near Novi Pazar), while next to the church ‘the seat’ (capital) of the Serbian rulers developed in the time of the first Nemanjićs. This old and reputable bishopric was mentioned in some Byzantine and Serbian sources and represented ecclesiastical center of the Serbian state from the period of the foundation of the Serbian autocephalous archbishopric in the epoch of Saint Sava. Systematic historical-archaeologic investigations carried out for more than 20 years at the end of the 20th century by J. Kalic have shown that the fortress of Ras was situated not far from the cathedral church of the bishopric of Raška. Today it is the archaeological site called Gradina-Postenje by the local population. In the well known work of King Stefan the First Crowned “Biography of St. Simeon” he wrote that in the 12th century the seat of Serbia was next to St. Peter’s Church in Ras. That place high on the hill was always and for centuries considered a very old cult place and the sanctuary which is abundant in numerous Roman and Byzantine traces. The Roman Arsa, dating from the 4th century underwent the most expansive restoration during the Emperor Justinian I (527-565), who assigned a new function to the old fortress, adding new ramparts, two

churches and other objects. The present-day Church of St. Apostles Peter and Paul dates back from the 9th or the 10th century being the oldest monument of sacral architecture in Serbia. The Church of Sts Apostles Peter and Paul was built on the remnants of the former early-Christian church from the 7th century. Although the Church of St. Peter’s and Paul’s is conserved in 1960, the most recent archaeological research have excavated tombs of Illyrian noblemen from the 5th century BC which document that the Church of St. Apostles Peter and Paul is the oldest in the Balkans. The SS Apostles Peter and Paul Church is located on the hill that was populated in the 6th century BC ; Beneath its foundations is found one of the riches Hellenic-Archaic golden hoards. Above this Hellenic hoard was erected a Roman rotunda, whose foundations are visible today, and above it in the 9th century the Byzantine rotunda with the dome was added, which contained a tiny gallery around the tambour and the spacious semi-circular apse. This church got in the 11th century the new layer of frescoes, that was covered by the Serb painters with the new layer of fresco painting when the Serb signatures were painted. Svetozar Radojčić The oldest parts of the SS Peter’s and Paul’s Church are created by its unique circular shape in construction with a central cupola and three radial apses is visible from the inside. Archaeological findings point that the SS Apostles Peter and Paul church has been rebuilt several times in history, beginning in the 4th century, with notable additions made in the 7th century.

Present day appearance of St Peters Church comes from the reconstruction works undergone during the history. The dark interior of SS Peter’s and Paul’s Church reveals three layers of frescoes in pale red tones, most of which remained from the fresco repainting around 1250. Numerous Roman, Byzantine and Slavic massive cross-like tombstones and considerable sacral treasures have been found in the broad yard surrounding the St Peters Church, some of which are displayed in the National Museum in Belgrade. The Church of SS Peter’s and Paul’s is significantly connected with the life of Stefan Nemanya, the minded founder of the Serbian Medieval State. After his birth in Ribnica /nowadays Montenegro/ because of the misfortune Dynasty relations, father Zavida had baptized Stefan Nemanya by the Roman-Catholic rite as there were no Orthodox priests in Duklja. When returned back to Raska, the further founder of united Serbian Medieval State, young Stefan Nemanya was re-baptized in the Church of St. Peter’s and Paul’s by Orthodox priest. His youngest son Rastko /later Saint Sava – the first Serbian Archbishop/ was born in nearby Dezeva village and was baptized here as well. Large baptistery of St Peters Church can be seen today. Later during his reign as the ruler of Serbia, Stefan Nemanya gathered here with rulers of surrounding Byzantine Empire and held several councils of significant political importance. In 1196 Stefan Nemanya left the throne of the Serbian State to his son, Stefan who was afterwards crowned as the King of Serbia, declared as the First-crowned. The Deževo zhupa – Deževo Valley is renown granary, particularly fertile and

suitable for grain production and fruit growing. The name of Deževa, according to a legend, comes from an old word of dežam which determines the wooden vessel in which the bread was served for the most festive events, so the locals consider Deževa as the place of bread. The village of Deževa or Deževo, how it was called in the

Medieval times, was mentioned by the Archbishop Danilo II, in description of events connected with the abdication from the throne of the King Stefan Dragutin. Archbishop writes that the King Dragutin handed over the kingdom to his brother Milutin /at Ras, in the place called Dezeve/.

Due to its particular cultural importance, from 1979 Church of Saint Apostles Peter’s and Paul’s is inscribed in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage within the Stari Ras Complex, including Monasteries of Sopocani, St. George’s Pillars, Crna Reka and Konculj.

Studenica Monastery

south of Belgrade and 39 km south of Kraljevo. It lies close to the confluence of Studenica and Ibar Rivers along the most prominent Ibar River Valley, so called Kings’ Valley, named after numerous monasteries, sanctuaries and sacral structures built by the Serbian medieval Kings along its

course. Studenica Monastery was founded around 1190 as the principal endowment and mausoleum church of Stefan Nemanya, the minded founder and most powerful and prominent ruler of the Serbian Medieval State, to become and remain the most important of all Serbian Orthodox

The magnificent Medieval Studenica Monastery is the mother church of all Serbian shrines. Studenica Monastery is situated in the beautiful Studenica River Valley in central Serbia, 200 km

Monasteries of the rich cultural heritage of Serbia. This well-preserved 13th century monastic complex of Studenica churches sits at the end of a 12kilometer road, which begins in the small town of Usce, in the gorgeous, well-preserved natural setting on the forested slopes of Radocelo, Cemerno and Troglav Mountains. Within the UNESCO “Man and Biosphere” program, Nature Park “Golija” joined the biosphere reserve network in 2001 when it was named “Golija-Studenica”. Studenica Monastery Complex consists of four medieval churches, the Lower and the Upper Saint Sava Sanctuaries and the dwelling /dormitory, hospice, refectory/ with the high tower enclosed by defensive walls in a form of an almost perfect circle. Those are : The Church of the Virgin Mary, Saint Nichola’s Church, SS Joachim‘s and Anne‘s Church /the King’s Church/ and well preserved foundations of the St.John the Baptist’s Church. The oldest and the most significant among Studenica Monastery structures is the Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary constructed between 1183 and 1196 in the brilliant combination of Byzantine Cathedral and Romanesque exterior details, entirely representing the socalled “Raska school” of architecture. The facades and sculptural decorations of the Virgin Mary Studenica Church were completed of white polished marble from neighboring Radocelo

Mountain /like no other Serbian Monastery/ and crafted by the superb craftsmen-masters from Kotor, the littoral part of the Serbian Medieval State at that time. The exterior of the Virgin Mary Studenica Church is in the Romanesque spirit, while its fresco paintings bear the Byzantine characteristics. The Romanesque elements of the Holy Virgin Studenica Church make decorative façade finishing. The highest levels of the façade are done in characteristic arcade shaped friezes on consoles carved in stone. Monumental Studenica portals are characteristic as are the windows richly decorated by sculpture decorations, magnificent wet portal and particularly triforium on the altar apses, which dominates the eastern part of the Virgin Mary Studenica Church, thanks to its exquisitely carved plant motive decorum and phantasmagoric creatures, as a winged dragon and basilica, with a long snake tale. In 1245 King Radoslav added the large narthex with semi-circular chapels at the western side of the Church of the Virgin Mary. Studenica Monastery enjoyed continual care by the members of the Nemanjic dynasty in the Medieval era, and served as model for the churches of Rascie, and became the royal funeral church. The oldest monumental frescoes of Studenica complex, done by anonymous artist from Constantinople

date back from 1208 and represent the corner-stone of the fresco-painting of the entire Byzantine Empire. The most significant among all Studenica Monastery frescoes is the most celebrated and monumental Crucifixion painted on the western wall of the Holy Virgin Church with the exquisite portrait of the Christ featuring the calm facial expression that represents outstanding pain and overwhelming dignity. On the south wall of the Holy Virgin Church of Studenica Monastery there is the “founders’ composition” which shows the Blessed Virgin taking Stefan Nemanja – Monk Simeon the Myrovlyte /St. Symeon the Myrrhbearer/ with the church model to Jesus Christ. The Church of St. Nicholas in Studenica Medieval complex was erected in the early 13th century. It is one nave church which is also fresco-painted, but this time by Serbian painters. The King’s Church /Church of Saint Joachim and Anne/, with its octagonal bright red cupola over the graceful architectural structure of the basis of reduced cross was built in 1313. By its artistic significance the Kings Church is the most important among shrines of Studenica Medieval complex and was named after its founder, King Milutin. The brilliant frescoes of the King’s Church perform density of forms and volumetric rendering of faces. Those frescoes were painted by Michael and Eutyches immediately after the

construction of the church and especially those that depict King Milutin, his wife Simonida /Simonis/, Saint Sava and Saint Simeon the Myrovlyte are considered the finest portraits of the Middle ages and the master-pieces of the Byzantine art of the beginning of the 14th century. Exceptional Medieval monument inside Studenica Monastery Complex is the circular wall, which has two fortified gates (churches, refectories, Treasury, monks’ quarters from the 13th to the 18th centuries), but also extremely significant surroundings. In the protected Studenica zone there are the Upper and Lower hermitages, the marble quarries from which the blocks for the Church of the Virgin Mary were drawn and the remains of a medieval settlement of quarry-men and stonecutters. From 1986 Studenica Monastery is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Holy Virgin Mary Church of the Studenica Medieval complex keeps the myrrh-flowing and incorruptible holy relics of Venerated Stefan Nemanja – monk Simeon, as well as other notable Serbian rulers and saints to whom faithful believers venerate and thank in their prayers : Ana – the wife of Stefan Nemanja /the sanctified Anastasija/, King Vukan /the oldest son of Stefan Nemanja/, King Stefan Prvovencani – the First Crowned /the sanctified monk Simon/, King Radoslav /the oldest son of Stefan Prvovencani – the First Crowned/ and other. The Treasury of the Studenica Monastery preserves some of Serbian applied art’s most important artifacts and objects, including the golden ring of King Stefan the First-crowned and a version of the New Testament from the 15th century. Prayers, serenity and divine appearances and celestial Byzantineblue color of the magnificent Studenica frescoes, whose kilo was twice worth than a kilo of gold in Medieval era, make uniqueness of Studenica Monastery complex. Studenica Monastery complex is the spiritual center of the Serbian Medieval Nemanjic Dynasty harmoniously united

with the intact natural ambiance of Radocelo Mountain and features unique spirituality, serenity and warmth. Dormitory of Studenica Monastery /hospice/ has been built several years ago in authentic Serbian architectural style, whose accommodation comfort, related to 3 stars object, within the tranquility of the most significant Serbian monastery and preserved nature boons provides enlightened and pleasant stay to numerous believers and guests. Studenica Monastery Dormitory encompasses single, double, three-bed rooms and multi-bed rooms with bathrooms /some of rooms overlooking the monastery/ that are furnished in massive wood, with icons calling for prayer, according to the ambiance and rules of the shrine. There is spacious dining room in the basement of the Studenica Dormitory decorated with photos of Studenica Monastery and other Serbian monasteries and saints of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In the Dormitory of Studenica Monastery vegan meals are served /without meat and dairy products/ and by prior order river trout or traditional dishes, prepared from ingredients produced on vast monastery property. Depending on the period of the year, visitors are served here with vegetable pie for starter, filets of smoked Studenica trout with Dalmatian garnisheeing, fruit or cake, monastic wine for dinner, and for breakfast kaymak, corn bread, kačamak /hominy/, yoghurt, vegetable cream soup, grilled meat, salads, sweets, and fast breakfast on friday – corn bread, hominy without milk, jam, honey, tuna, salty paste … The tiny open porch of the Studenica Dormitory is especially pleasant spot to enjoy the glass of monastic wine and the spirituality of the entire complex, attributed in the facade whiteness and the wooden construction of the Studenica Monastery Dormitory, providing remarkable harmony. Studenica Monastery is the source of spirituality of the Serbs, where the first hospital has been founded in Medieval times. In the first half of the 20th century the Studenica Monastery had

its own hydro-electric plant, where the new and modern mini-Hydro electric plant has been completed recently. The new Hydro electric plant on Studenica River has been constructed as replica of the Djerdap Hydro electric plant, on the same place where during the half of the last century worked the only one hydro-electric plant, built by the project from 1927, which supplied the whole Studenica area with electric energy area until 1970. Studenica Monastery is an outstanding example of a Monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church and belongs to the highest point of the Serbian history. All of those features make visit to majestic Studenica Monastery a spiritual and cultural invigoration that lasts long.

Golija Mountain Golija Mountain is the highest mountain in Southwest-Central Serbia, situated in the so-called Stari Vlah area. Golija Mountain is S-shaped and 32 km long, located between Ibar and Moravica Rivers and the middle course of Studenica River and mountains of Radocelo and the Pester Plateau, covering the territory of Municipalities of Kraljevo, Raška, Novi Pazar, Sjenica and Ivanjica. Thanks to its magical and breathtaking beauties, well preserved natural wealth and real wilderness, as well as numerous cultural and historical sites, Golija Mountain is by many visitors considered the most beautiful mountain of Serbia. The highest peak of Golija Mountain is the Jankov Kamen peak – Janko’s Rock which is 1834 meters high, from where spreads majestic panorama all over the Stari Vlah region – up to Prokletije /Accursed Mountains/, Komovi, Kopaonik and Zlatar Mountains… On Golija Mountain there are 33 live villages with some 7500 inhabitants. Along the main ridge of Golija Mountain rise numerous breathtaking mountain peaks – Bojovo brdo (1748 m), Pašina česma (1725 m), Radulovac (1725 m), Odvraćenica (1674 m), Tičar (1492 m), Crni Vrh (1795 m), Čardak (1688 m), Kulina (1642), Jadovita (1560 m)…. Golija Mountain is serious and wild mountain that gets the highest rate of

precipitation in Serbia, but it also features very pleasant and warm summers. By its stunning landscapes, rich in vast thick coniferous forests and endless wooded heights and endless meadows and beautiful lakes, Golija Mountain can only be compared to the nearby Kopaonik Mountain, of which it is twice larger. Hiking routes on Golija Mountain are pretty light. The altitude difference on Golija Mountain, however, deserves quite well health condition of visitors. It is recommended to use deep sneakers for hiking along Golija Mountain. Length of circle hiking routes along Golija Mountain varies from 9 to 12 km, and they start from the Golijska reka point. Members of the Golija Mountaineering association recently completed demarcation of the Golija hiking trail from Katici village to the peak of Mucanj Mountain, in both directions, which is 17 km long and features altitude difference of 504 meters. The cycling along the Golija Mountain, however, provides true challenge and fun for bicyclers. Thanks to its outstanding unspoiled beauties and extreme wild settings UNESCO in 2001 declared Golija Mountain the First category Park of Nature and the Biosphere Reserve among the World’s Nature Reservations called “GolijaStudenica”, covering 75.183 ha. Golija Mountain is situated about 300 km south of Belgrade, 40 km south-west of Ivanjica and 32 km north of Novi

Pazar. Golija Mountain got its name after its large surface and size /”golema” – large mountain/ and is known by its wealth of water springs, brooks and its three beautiful lakes. Tičar Lake or Dajićko Lake and Kosaninovo Jezero /Kosanin Lake/ are magnificent examples of preserved lakes within the natural resort of Golija Mountain in the heart of wilderness. The Lake of Daićko /Dajic Lake/is easily accessed, since it lies just off the asphalt road leading from Ivanjica to Bele Vode, i.e. from Ivanjica to Golijska Reka point, some 30 km away from Ivanjica, and 2 km away from Bele Vode point and around 10 km away from Golijska Reka. The locals often call this lake “Tičar”, after the hill that lies on its Western side, but it is also known by its other names – “Svatovsko jezero” (The Wedding Party Lake) or “Gorsko oko Golije” (The Mountain Eye of Golija). The Lake of Daićko is located on the North-Western side of Golija, stretching just off the ridge that starts from the peak of Jankov kamen (1.833 meters) and slopes towards north, forming the water parting between Golija’s two bestknown rivers, the Moravica and the Studenica. Although it belongs to the watershed of the Moravica from the morpho-hydrological point of view, the lake lies very close to the edge of the Studenica watershed, divided from it by the Rivotine ridge. The lake lies at an altitude of 1436 meters above the sea level, confined in a small, shallow

depression. The area of the water surface is a mere 160 square meters, with a perimeter of around 50 meters. Dense forests of Golija Mountain rich in forest products and over 100 species of medicinal herbs and abundance of fresh waters /more than 100 springs/ are protected by law and associated with numerous legends. Golija Mountain is the premium location for passionate mountain climbers, adventurers and nature-lovers and one of the most favorite and the best respected destination in PANACOMP tours. You can easily find various wild game in forests of Golija Mountain…. “Wolf Chase Hunt” is organized traditionally on Golija Mountain and is the well-known hunting event that gathers numerous hunters from Serbia and over the world. Besides, Golija and its surroundings feature row of very interesting festivals and events, among which are „Dani kraljice Jelene” /Days of Queen Helena/ celebrated at the Gradac Monastery, festival of culture, art and science „Raške duhovne svečanosti” /Ras Spiritual Festivities/ or the sport/tourist manifestation of Regatta „Tvrđava” /Fortress/.

Staro selo Sirogojno Open air Museum Sirogojno The ‘Old Village’ – Staro Selo Sirogojno Open-air Museum was set up on the surface of 15 ha by the Yugoslav Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in 1992 with the idea of recreating a typical 19th century Zlatibor homestead. The Staro Selo Sirogojno Museum – Old Village in an open air which consists of around fifty wooden structures made of wood-logs

Slopes of Golija Mountain are very suitable for skiing and winter sports as in winters there is abundance of snow. During harsh winters on Golija Mountain snow lasts for five months and its average layer is 105 cm high or higher. Walks through thick forests of Golija Mountain rich in potable waters and along endless fragrant meadows enhance health condition of every visitor to this magic mountain full of surprises… The 15 cycling routes of total 400 km have been marked within the West Serbia area, in favor of the active bikers and cyclists outdoor vacations. In this way the marked cycling routes connect tourist destination which provide visitors and locals choice of their wishes and physical conditions, as well as to choose tourist attractions they want to visit. Zlatibor is connected with the Tara Mountain via Mokra gora, Divčibare with the Užice area, Kosjerić and Požega. Arilje and Ivanjica are connected with the Golija Mountain, Uvac Special Nature Reserve, Pešter Plateau, Zlatar and Prijepolje. The cycling routes are well marked with the tourist signposts, there are wooden coverage in the resting points for cyclists, hikers and

that were meticulously collected and transferred from the neighboring villages on Zlatibor Mountain. The project was initiated in 1980 by architect Ranko Findik and the Republic Institute for preservation of monuments of culture. The idea was generated by the local Sirogojno organization of craftsmen and artisans and achieved by strong dedication of Dobrila VasiljevicSmiljanic, and engagement of ethnologist Bosa Rosic and various institutions and numerous affiliated of Republic of Serbia.

mountaineers. For the active vacations in Serbia, there are available bikes to rent. Numerous rural households and rustic pensions and lodging located in sleepy villages of Golija Mountain, which provide memorable tourist service in unique natural ambiance, as well as superb hotels and other types of accommodation in Ivanjica featuring fantastic amenities for memorable team-building programs and congresses and conventions make Golija truly tempting holiday destination in Serbia throughout the year. Thanks to its intact nature and wilderness, Golija Mountain is very suitable for successful organization of unique nature explorations and educational programs of survival in nature and wilderness… Our best experience is full-day invigorating walk and hike through thick, almost inaccessible forests of Golija Mountain while picking up wild juicy strawberries and blackberries… and memorable encountering wild horses…and Golija wildlife…

There are various tools, components and artifacts of the Staro selo Sirogojno Open Air Museum displayed, which represent the authentic architecture and family lifestyle of the mountainous region of the Southwest Serbia and the vast woodland of the Dinara area – Dinaric population in the second half of the 19th century : a main house with authentic hearth, a cottage specially built for married members of the family that was just used for sleeping, a guesthouse, dairy, granary, bakery, forge, animal compound, copper’s

workshop, blacksmith’s workshop, pottery workshop, beehives shelves, shed for drying plums, tavern… Various interesting cultural events, eco camp and creative workshops are held in Staro Selo Sirogojno traditionally, like exhibitions of handmade knitted materials from Zlatibor region, workshops of traditional crafts /pottery manufacture, weaving, mosaic making or painting/. The monumental complex of the Staro Selo Sirogojno open-air museum and Saint Apostles Peter and Paul’s church from the 18th century were declared as cultural monuments of exceptional importance. Here you should taste delicious Zlatibor staples /kaymak, cheese, smoked ham, bye bread, buckwheat pie, spinach moussaka, tomato baked in ceramic pot.../ and buy world famous highquality souvenirs /hand-knitted woolen and wooden items of Zlatibor, dried fruits – raspberries, cherries, blackberries/… Every guest of the Staro Selo Sirogojno is warmly welcomed in traditional way : pogača (bannock), salt and homemade rakija (brandy) served by children dressed in folk costumes. Visitors can have lunch called “srpska trpeza” (meals prepared in old-fashion way and eaten with wooden spoons) or “Lunch at grass” outside in wonderful nature surrounding, eating from ceramic dishes by wooden spoons. For announced groups we organize visit to the Knitters Museum including an

unique presentation of traditional handcrafts of the famous Sirogojno Style Company, followed by tasting of various dried fruits and jellies and jams of the Sirogojno Company – largest exporter of wild fruits produces – raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, blackberries…The village of Sirogojno is well-known for hand knitted woolen clothing. Due to unique production process, outstanding quality and authentic design, the knitwear from Sirogojno has been sold worldwide fro decades. The story of Sirogojno is about tradition, beauty, creativity as much as about astonishing enthusiasm of the local women and their chief designer Dobrila Smiljanic. The Knitters Museum preserves memories of the beginnings and the greatest achievements of women from the little village in the Zlatibor Mountain region, whose handicrafts reached the catwalks of Milan, Tokyo and were part of the wardrobe of Mrs Regan and Mrs Gorbachov, Liv Ullmann and Queen Elisabeth. Fashion shows of Sirogojno Style knitwear as well as knitting workshops for adults and children are also available with prior notice. The Project Kuce Zlatibora od 19. veka do danas – Houses of Zlatibor from the 19th century until today which is constantly realized since 2008, was awarded for cultural heritage by Europa Nostra Awards and the European Union in Lisbon, 1 June 2012.

Authors of the project are dr Nikola Krstović, senior curator of the „Staro selo“ Open air Museum and Workshop KRUG, Zlatibor (consulting & research). Within competition of 200 projects in the field of cultural heritage preservation in four categories, this project won special recognition by the jury (special mention of the jury) for education and rising awareness, among 90 projects from Europe. As explained by Emil Hädler, President of the jury, the special engagement on widening awareness has been pointed out, as well as involvement of local community in recognition of uniqueness and assets of own area, and support to efforts in preservation and presentation of the cultural heritage in the best possible way. Only 24 km away from Zlatibor, “Staro selo Sirogojno” Open Air Museum is the only one of that kind in Serbia and certainly worth-visiting, and one of our favorite destinations, often used in our numerous tours to West Serbia. The Staro selo Sirogojno is part of our unique tours to West Serbia and the special offer for weekend packages in Serbian countryside and the unique Serbian Slava Celebration and Serbian Wedding Ceremony packages.

Zlatibor Mountain Zlatibor is the name given to the Dinaric mountain range in southwest Serbia, 55 km long and 22 km wide and a region that covers an area of 1015 square km, rather than a particular place. Tourist center of Kraljeve Vode /previously Patrizanske Vode/ is located at the heart of the Zlatibor tourist center region and is often wrongly referred to simply as Zlatibor. Zlatibor is mountain of golden pines, with the highest peak of Tornik (1496 meters), 200 km away from Belgrade, 230 km north of Podgorica /capital of Montenegro/ and 175 km east of Sarajevo /capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina/. Zlatibor corresponds to the area west of Uzice and extends as far as the Bosnia and Herzegovina border and to the south almost to Nova Varos, covering the territory between rivers of Susica and Uvac and features wider spatial meaning. The average altitude of the Zlatibor region is around 1000 meters above sea level. The Crni Rzav River springs at the foot of the Cigota mountain peak and supplies the artificial lake of Ribnica /Ribnicko jezero/, which provide drinking water for the whole area of Zlatibor. Besides the Crni Rzav River, other rivers of Zlatibor are the Uvac Rier and the Beli Rzav /White Rzav River/.

The entire area of present Zlatibor was part of the Medieval Rujno district, as the administrative region of the Medieval Raška. The name of Rujno comes from a tiny plant called “ruj” which was used for coloring of leather, that, when sueded, was successfully exported to Dubrovnik, and nowadays this plant could be found in villages of Semegnjevo, Stubal and Uvac. The name of Zlatibor is in use since the 18th century and from the mid 19th century it is found in official documents. Zlatibor Mountain and area enjoys a sunny, sub-alpine climate bit with about 100 snowy days a year, which enable skiing between November and March. The region of Zlatibor Mountain is equally popular for summer vacations, especially during July and August when numerous tourists come here to walk, relax and breathe the cool mountain air. Fresh and dry air, low air pressure and well-known Wind Rose that successfully melt opposed air flows of mountainous and Mediterranean air that become here healing factor are the premium beneficial features of Zlatibor Mountain. Medicinal researches proved that the Zlatibor Mountain area is very suitable fur curing various illnesses – lung diseases, anemia, neurasthenia, heart disorders, thyroid gland disorders, and keeps its long tradition of celebrity destination since the middle of the 17th

century, successfully providing its guests healing of body and soul. Zlatibor is vast rolling plateau and region of high mountains, pine forest and alpine meadows which is the best winter tourist resort of Serbia, thanks to its beautiful nature and variety of accommodation facilities and convenient and beneficial climate. Zlatibor abounds in speleological features /total of 98 caves and 44 pits/ with lots of beautiful waterfalls springs. Stopica pecina Cave and Potpec pecina Cave are the largest and best known, while Gostilje Waterfall ranks among the most beautiful and the highest waterfalls in Serbia. Surrounding villages are ideal for vacations and attendance to some of numerous local manifestations and colorful festivals. Best tourist sites are included in full-day and half-day excursions from Zlatibor and multi-day tour packages : Stopića pećina Cave, Potpec pećina Cave, Waterfall in Gostilje village, Open Air “Old Village” Museum in Sirogojno, Uvac and Dubrava Monasteries, log churches in the villages of Jablanica and Dobroselica, art galleries in Borova Glava, Trnava and Sljivovica villages, birth houses of Dimitrije Tucovic and Sava Jovanovic Sirogojno, observation points of Tornik and Cigota mountain peaks and multi-days intense walking tour packages through West Serbia.

Terzica Avlija Traditional park Zlakusa village Zlakusa is picturesque tiny village between Uzice and Pozega in West Serbia, that used to be important station of Turkish caravans in the past. The village of Zlakusa, known for a number of potters became widely popular for the uniquely colorful traditional settlement of Ethno Park “Terzica avlija” /”Terzic’s Yard”/ that provides variety of rare delights and unique surprises for its visitors : fresh air in the heart of pure nature, preserved customs, respect for cultural

heritage, hand-works and old crafts workshops, especially well-developed earthenware performed by more than 30 devoted local ceramics manufacturers /famous Zlakusa potters/, dewy woods intersected with clearings full of mushrooms, fragrant meadows rich in wild-strawberries and medicinal herbs surrounded by fruitful raspberry orchards and numerous beehives, premium organic fresh vegetables, unlimited outdoor activities in uniquely beautiful natural ambiance, such as exploration of the nearby Potpec Pecina Cave or hiking along the numerous trekking paths up to Gradina mountain peak /934 meters/ and

further for 16 km to Sirogojno and others… “Terzica avlija” /”Terzic’s Yard”/Ethno Settlement/Park is situated just near Zlakusa village center on the hill below the beech forest. This unique landmark of West Serbia which imitates the original rural yard of Serbia was founded by Drndarevic Family with the aim to maintain and present Serbian traditional rural lifestyle and customs of the 19th century. “Terzica avlija” Ethno Park contains two authentic Serbian archaic houses /one more than 100 years old, built by unbaked bricks, with four-line roof covered by preserved

plates/ including variety of elements that provided ordinary life of villagers and providing authentic cordiality of Serbian people to welcome any visitor during home-feasts /”slava”/, out-door restaurant serving unique traditional food, old “krcma” /archaic rustic dining room in winter months/, fountains and place for memorable folklore performances. The older house is used for guests’ lodging, including three traditionally decorated rustic apartments, but the other structure /that was an old Primary school in the whole area/, features well-preserved furniture and school objects/and has been turned into museum – ethno Collection for observation of old Serbian customs and the thematic expositions of traditional elements : authentic folklore costumes, antique books and magazines, old postcards from Zlatibor region, war-diaries from the First and the Second World War, archaic stamps and Serbian coins, bank notes from the Royal Serbia, letters of manufacturers from last centuries, military uniforms of the brave Serbian Army, photos exhibitions, hand-work and knitting accessories collections. Brand new structure of the Terzica avlija traditional settlement/park is 4 stars apartment for rent – spacious dining room with equipped kitchen, 2

bedrooms, bathroom and beautiful terrace with magnificent view on green surrounding hills. Part of grassy slope of the Terzica avlija settlement is adjusted for eco-camp with electricity supply, showers and toilets. The garden of “Terzica avlija” Ethno Park is arranged into the place for various open-air performances, events, meetings, assemblies of singing groups and national ensembles, literary evenings, artistic exhibitions and other kinds of cultural manifestations, or memorable performance of the famous Ostojic Veljko brass band, the winner of the Guca Brass Festival. In the cottage at the entrance to the “Terzica avlija” Ethno park in Zlakusa village you can find authentic Serbian souvenirs produced by local masters and artisans that might awoke unique memories on this beautiful place. Among them are various earthenware objects of handmade pottery where delicious food is best slowly cooked, and Serbian traditional cap “sajkaca” that are strongly recommended. Special part of the program organized in the Ethno park is performance of the “Zavicaj” /Homeland/ Youth and Adults Folklore Ensembles that gathers several hundreds of wonderful young and middle-aged performers keen to cherish Serbian culture and eager to

have possibility to present their delightful skills and outstanding artistic talents. Sometimes they perform together with the famous brass band of Veljko Ostojić who comes from Zlakusa village and was several times awarded the highest prizes of the Guca Brass Festival…. During their performance guests enjoy in ancient customs such are Zlakusa Wedding ceremony, customs of harvesting, making traditional costumes… Members of the Zavičaj Ensemble of Terzica avlija settlement in Zlakusa village manufacture more than 180 male and female traditional costumes of extraordinary quality and beauty, made of authentic fabrics, patterns and decorations, that in Serbia and abroad represent rich and well preserved Serbian heritage, art and craftsmanship. Ethno-park “Terzica avlija – Terzic’s Yard” in Zlakusa village is one of the most favorite destinations in our programs, thanks to outstanding people who run this place and wonderfully pleasant and interesting attractions and wonderfully pleasant and surprising activities that excite our guests and clients. Impressions on Terzica avlija Traditional Settlement – “This is the most beautiful yard in Serbia !” commented one of the thousands of visitors who have peered

per couple

22 day Grand Balkan Tour - Land Only $6,888 pp twin share / $8,133 single room


22 day Grand Balkan Tour - Return Airfares from Brisbane / Melbourne / Sydney / Perth $7,588 pp twin share / $8,838 single room Airport transfers in Ljubljana and Belgrade with airfare

Not Included ● Any meals and drinks not mentioned in the itinerary ● Optional Tips and Gratuities ● Travel Insurance - mandatory, all travellers must have adequate travel insurance

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Grand Balkan Journey  

Small Group Escorted Journey of a lifetime, discover the the history and diversity of the Balkans, crossroads of civilizations, from the Rom...

Grand Balkan Journey  

Small Group Escorted Journey of a lifetime, discover the the history and diversity of the Balkans, crossroads of civilizations, from the Rom...