Tourism 2018

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Year XII • special edition, 2018 • free copy

TOURISM 2018 Find Your Way


A remarkable publishing achievement of “Princip Pres”! An exclusive monograph about Serbia, in separate editions in Serbian, English, Russian and German languages!



Cetinjska 6, 11000 Belgrade Phone +381 11 322 70 34


TENTH SPECIAL EDITION ON TOURISM, FORTIETH FAIR Publisher “Princip Pres” Cetinjska 6, 11000 Belgrade Tel.: +381 (11) 322 70 34, 322 16 92 Director and Editor-in-Chief Mišo Vujović Editor Branislav Matić

Choice and Seduction


Technical Editor Aleksandar Ćosić Photography Editor Dragan Bosnić Header and cover design Jovan Željko Rajačić Associates Milovan Vitezović, jerej Jovan Plamenac, Bojan Mandić, Dragan Lakićević, Nebojša Jevrić, Olga Vukadinović, Jovo Bajić, Dejan Bulajić, Petar Milatović, Vlada Arsić, Dejan Đorić, Đorđe Srbulović, Mihail Kulačić, Milena Z. Bogavac, Vojislav Filipović, Saša Šarković, Zoran Plavšić, Hristina Plamenac, Dragana Barjaktarević

n the past, people in parlors were pure intellectuals, many times creators as well. Nowadays, intellectuals and parlor people are aliens to one another, even opponents. There are no more great loves today, because deep friendships were swallowed by shallow acquaintances. (...) Mass travelling today does not originate from Russo’s invention of passion for nature, or from Stevenson’s invention of the railway. People travel from desperate boredom and even more vulgar snobbism. In these Greek seas, Swiss glaciers, Italian churches or French castles, I see armies of travelers whose geography knowledge is so low that they cannot remember the name of the city they spent the night in. Such people are a misery for true travelers-Epicureans, who remember each stone they leaned upon. (...)” Photo: Josip Šarić

Translated by Sandra Gagić & “Globe Translations” Marketing Mirko Vujović Secretariat and placement Dragana Dimitrijević, Milenko Vasilić Print “Portal”, Belgrade Office for Srpska “Princip Pres RS” Nikole Pašića 1, 78000 Banjaluka Tel/Fax: +387 (51) 304 360 Office for Australia “Princip Press Australia PTY LTD”, 12/24 Loch Street, 3182 St Kilda West, VIC

Cover page: In Prague (Photo: NR Pres. Design: J. Ž. Rajačić) Magazine registered in the Register of Public Media of the Republic Serbia, no. NV000385

ISSN 1452-8371 = Serbia - National Review COBISS.SR-ID 139201804


Thus wrote Jovan Dučić in 1930, great Serbian poet and traveling artist. Many things have changed since then, both on the outside and on the inside. Or perhaps not? It’s been exactly ten years of defending art, alchemy and initiating power of traveling in the pages of this special edition. We are trying to put a drop of spirit and gilt into the modern philosophy of traveling, the daughter of global uniformity and industry of consciousness. We are persuading you to be late for your flight in a city, beautiful and deep, to spend at least one day unplanned in a street at which end you are waiting for yourself. We are warning you not to make a mistake on the crossroad where personality stops and mass begins. According to your reports, many have listened to us. Some say that they matured, some that they became younger. No one said it did them wrong. The fortieth International Tourism Fair in Belgrade is before us. The offer is big and varied. We are here to choose, not to be seduced. 





Introducing 88 EXAMPLES: “MERKUR” 92 KNOWLEDGE: BELGRADE BUSINESS SCHOOL Partners of the Publication:






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Знак и логотип у боји








 Banja Kovilјača  Lock in Stapar  Trška Church, 13th century


Photo: Nebojša Petrović


Homeland from the Air

he longing of man for heights is primordial. It contains some of the deepest secrets about us. Some say it’s the memory of heavenly origin, some that it is a metaphor of freedom and the spiritual. An anticipation of an, at least temporary, loosening from the earthly and material forces. It’s no accident that so many important artists, especially those with a strong lyrical background and those heroically upright, had an aspiration towards flying. Saint-Exupery, for example, or Crnjanski and Krakov among Serbs. Poets have always known that one doesn’t have to enter an airplane or be a bird in order to fly. Miroslav Antić teased us ever since we were children: “Perhaps you can fly, but you still haven’t tried it in all possible ways.” One of the most important things in heights and flying is certainly perceiving. Njegoš: “Who stands on a hill, even a small one, / sees more than he who stands below the hill.” The crew of “The Golden Apple” TV show, TV edition of National Review, led by Nebojša Petrović, peeked into every corner of Serbia during the previous years. It perceived it through many eyes, from all angles. From the air as well, of course. It wasn’t men that flew, their video and photo cameras did. (Drones can also have a noble purpose.) So, all of a sudden, the high geometry of the royal spa spreads its wings before us. The Pešter Plateau bursts before your eyes, as seen by the eagles, with the villages scattered in it. Zvornik appears as a sandbar, a foot of mountains stepping into a blocked river. Churches, seen from above, first announce themselves as brilliance, and only then we begin recognizing them. On a clear day, your eye reflects in the water, like the sky, and you measure yourself by the immensity of the plane. We have only a small piece from Nebojša Petrović’s workshop before us. This is only an invitation. It cannot be a replacement for gold, for the apple, and watching Serbia through the eyes of that wonderful TV show.  (B. M.) SRBIJA  SPECIJALNO IZDAWE  2018.







Pešter plateau






Above mountain Tara, a view of the Drina





Vacation Awaits You More than 1,100 exhibitors, nearly 300 from abroad, from 50 countries, this year also secure the place for this event on the map of the European tourism industry. The guest country is Greece, and the accompanying programs are international wine, hotel and catering equipment and souvenir fairs. All this goes with the “whirlpool of colors, aromas and smells, melodies”, as well as the famous spirit of Belgrade hospitality and cheerfulness. This makes Belgrade Tourism Fair it attractive to both business visitors and the general public


he most important tourist event in Serbia and Southeast Europe, the International Belgrade Tourism Fair, has been promoting the latest trends and developments in the international tourist industry for four decades, opening new perspectives in the development of tourism business. As a modern European commercial fair, the Tourism Fair is a trademark of the “Belgrade Fair”, the place visited each year



by over 75 thousand people interested in traveling. The general public also has special attitude toward this indispensable tourism event. The regional and international character of the Tourism Fair is reflected in the fact that an increasing number of exhibitors and visitors come from all parts of the world, making the offer of destinations this year greater than in previous years.

Working Hours On Thursday, February 22, the Fair will be open from 10:00 to 18:00, on Friday (February 23) and Saturday (February 24) from 10:00 to 19:00. On Sunday, February 25, the Fair will be open from 10:00 to 17:00. For more information visit:

Under the slogan “Vacation Awaits You!”, this year’s fair will also feature the most important tourist agencies, associations and organizations, hotels, tourist centers, airlines, international tour operators. They will offer to visitors tour packages for the upcoming tourist season.

eas, beautiful beaches, clean and warm sea – is a sufficient reference for the visitors of the Tourism Fair to explore the offer of the agencies and possibilities for a holiday in Greece this year. Domestic destinations and attractions of Serbia will also be presented at the Fair. Capacities of hotels and resorts will be presented to visitors, and they will be able to get recommendations for mountains, spas, lakes, sites of natural beauty and diverse establishments for rest, entertainment, health recovery, sport and recreation. Along with constant effort to improve the commercial aspect of the Fair – sale

WIDE AND COLORFUL RANGE OF OFFERS The partner country of this year’s Tourism Fair is Greece, an eternal inspiration for travelers and favorite summer destination for Serbian tourists. Representative tourist centers, regions and cities, as well as the authentic continental and island arSERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018



Wine “Beowine”, the event that opens the wine season, also takes place within the Tourism Fair. This wine gathering will last a day shorter than the Tourism Fair, 22-24 February, in the extended exhibition space, in halls 3 and 3A. It will be marked by a brand new concept and a significant number of new participants and business visitors.

of tour packages and presentation of participants’ offer – the organizers of the Belgrade Tourism Fair are increasingly drawing attention to strengthening the business visits and improving business meetings. To the interaction of exhibitors and business visitors from all parts of the world. This year, in direct contact and business discussions during the Fair, various forms of joint cooperation among professionals in tourism will be promoted. By organizing this event, one of the most successful in Serbia and this part of Europe, “Belgrade Fair” brings together and promotes all branches of the tourism industry. In addition to the Tourism Fair,



there are three other events happening here at the same time, which grow each year by the scope and number of participants: International Wine Fair (for the ninth time this year), International Fair of Hotel and Catering Equipment (fourteenth time) and the Souvenir Fair “Visit Serbia” (also fourteenth time). An exceptional multimedia side program will promote numerous festivals, gatherings and important events in an attractive way. There will be numerous presentations, promotions and tastings, along with the famous spirit of Belgrade hospitality and cheerfulness, which makes the Tourism Fair very attractive to both business visitors and the general public. 

Fair Benefits Traditionally, one of the most attractive segments in the rich offer of the Tourism Fair are the first minute offers and exclusive fair benefits for vacations in the summer season.


Business Unit “Ratko Mitrović” on Zlatibor It includes several high category facilities, built in the 1980’s and 1990’s. They were rebuilt and refurbished in accordance with modern standards. They are only a half kilometer away from the center of Zlatibor, in beautiful pinetree forest, and they offer exceptional conditions for rest and recreation. There is great interest among students for staying here. They also offer services to external customers. The complex consists of four facilities:

Villa “Srbija”,

On a surface area of 2.015 square meters, with 39 beds. It has a restaurant with 250 seats (four stars), seminar room with 50 seats, and summer garden with 150 seats.

Villa “Lovćen”,

On a surface area of 3.238 square meters, with 141 beds.

Villa “Zlatibor”,

On a surface area of 1.276 square meters, with 88 beds, with sports fitness club.

Villa “Romanija”,

Congress center, with two rooms with 250 seats each, surface area of 1.920 square meters, and with 58 beds. 031 841 369 •

Ulica sportova bb, 31315 Zlatibor 031 841 791 • •


Records Are Not Accidental



The year 2017 was record in Serbian tourism, both for the foreign currency inflow and the number of guests. Strong and creative promotional activities in leading foreign media also had a contribution in it, as well as campaigns on social networks. In 2018, the accent is on raising the quality of services further, city-break and congress tourism, active vacations, mountain and spa tourism, as well as the culturalhistorical and artistic heritage By: Marija Labović

On Kopaonik (Photo: Aleksandar Matić)




  Publications of the Tourist Organization of Serbia



ourism, one of the most important economy sectors in the world, has a significant role in future economic development and growth. According to the latest World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer, the number of international tourists grew by 7 percent in 2017, and the income from tourism reached 1.322 million dollars. It is the best result in the previous seven years. Estimations are that this strong upswing will continue in 2018, at a rate of 4 to 5 percent. SRBIJA  SPECIJALNO IZDAWE  2018.

Tourism trends change very fast. New lifestyle, active vacations and adventure groups, online communications, many different events and festivals attracting a great number of tourists – all this shows that the “millennials” target group is confirming its dominant position in tourism. We have predictions that this tourism market will make 47 percent of international travels by 2020. Furthermore, the trend of traveling “close to home” clearly shows how important regional markets are, as well as our local tourism market.

Our objective is tourism around the year, with clear tourism products and offer that could attract different guests. In accordance with international trends, the strategic orientation of Serbia in tourism and concentration on certain tourism markets is defined, with a clear offer for the future. A clear target segment and positioning identifies Serbia as a tourism brand, signifies the benefits for the guests and differentiates the position of our products. The results in Serbian tourism for the year 2017 are record, both for foreign cur-

rency inflow and the number of visits of foreign and local guests. Compared to the previous year, the number of guests grew by 12 percent and the total number of overnight stays by 11 percent. In order to encourage the development of tourism, the Government of Serbia and

See Serbia The local campaign “See Serbia... Perfect Vacation within the Reach of Your Hand” was also realized. Promotional activities were performed in Serbian cities, with strong media support. SERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018





Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications paid special attention to projects related to the development of tourism and approved 80.000 vouchers this year as well. This important activity of delivering vouchers gave wings in the sails of Serbian tourism. Local guests make 51 percent of the total number of guests in Serbia and 62 percent of the total number of overnight stays. The National Tourism Organization of Serbia, in line with the plan of tourism development for this year, will continue its hard work. This year too, we will motivate local guests with promotional activities and communication through online and offline media, together with our colleagues from local tourism organizations and representatives of the tourism economy. PROMOTIONS AND RESULTS Promotional activities on foreign markets during 2017 also contributed to good results. After CNN announced “Serbia the second world tourist destination in 2018”, French tour operator “Voyageurs du Monde” positions Serbia as “the third most desired destination in 2018” with accompanying text: “Serbia went through a renaissance. The remains testifying about centuries-long history intersect with the boiling underground culture. Yes, Belgrade is a serious candidate for becoming the new Berlin, with the addition of the Slavic soul as a plus.” When such two renowned houses position Serbia so high as a tourist destination, with more than positive comments, we know that we’ve succeeded and that it will contribute to Serbia being stronger and growing in tourism in the years to come. Furthermore, we should mention that our country is one of the 52 destinations recommended by the New York Times. Intensive promotional and marketing campaigns on global tourism markets were done in 2017. The media campaign was broadcasted on BBC and “Eurosport” global networks and continued on British “Channel 5”. Articles and reports were published in the most popular media, such as British Guardian, Independent, American Vogue and Conde Nast Traveller, Italian La Repubblica and Corriere de la

Sounds of Summer The regional campaign “Days of Serbia – Sounds of Summer” was realized in 2017, emphasizing the summer offer and festivals in Serbia. The campaign was launched in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary. Having in mind that 40 percent of foreign tourists in Serbia are from our region, making 48 percent of the foreign currency inflow, clarifies the significance of such a campaign.

Serra, Russian Комсомољская правда and National Geographic (Russian edition), French Madam Figaro and Parisien, German Freie Presse, Hamburger Abend Blatt and Berlinger Moren Post... A study visit of American bloggers to Serbia, as well as activities on blogs and social networks, resulted in receiving the sixty-first “Adrian” Annual Golden Award, the biggest and most prestigious award of its kind, for the “Balkan Blogger Bash” campaign. During the previous year, the National Tourism Organization of Serbia participated in 18 international fairs, realized 25 workshops and presentations abroad, organized study travels in Serbia for 155 foreign reporters and TV crews. Over 7,5 million videos from Serbia were viewed in 2017 on social networks, resulting in 60 million impressions. The number of followers of TOS on social networks increased by 45 percent. The year 2018 will therefore also continue with the digital campaign. A promotion including broadcasting video material about Serbia is in progress on renowned “Travel Channel”. The National TV of China will broadcast four half-hour episodes about Serbia in May 2018. All these activities certainly contributed to Serbian tourism continuing growing steadily and made the year 2017 not only successful, but also record. In 2018, we continue our constant work on promoting Serbia as an attractive tourist destination, on raising quality of tourism services, putting the focus on city break destinations, active vacation, mountain tourism, spa tourism, cultural-historical heritage and art, as well as MICE tourism, since Serbia is considered the fastest growing congress destination. (The author is the director of the National Tourism Organization of Serbia) SERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018


 Marija Labović

Photo: TOS


In the Shadow of Ararat



Mix the vast steppe plateaus of Shirak with the snow peaks of Mount Aragats, the crystal-clear waters of Lake Sevan and the spectacular gorge of the Akhurian River. Add a cry of a golden eagle, scattered herds of sheep, the scent of medicinal herbs and freshly baked bread. Do not forget medieval temples, stone crosses in the hills and mysterious Urartu citadels. Weave the spirit of unusual cities, such as Yerevan and Gyumri... You will realize that an ancient code and the vastness through which one enters this country are opening in front of you. Already mesmerized and full of impressions, you will begin to grasp the meaning Text and Photo: Svetlana Dingarac Church in the village of Caghunk, in the province of Gegharkunik




 Summer Yazidi shepherd’s settlement on Mount Aragats Horseman in a shepherd’s settlement in the area of Martuni


t sunset, while the sun was setting behind the vast mountains of the Turkish province of Kars, the hot and sad sounds of duduk spilled over the Akhurian gorge. Overlooking the abyss, with a dose of pain and foreboding on his face, my guide Haik played traditional folk song “Dle jaman” on this traditional Armenian instrument made of peach wood. Intoxicated by the music and the magic scene that opened in front of us, we stood on the Armenian bank of the river, while on the other side were the ruins of Ani, the glorious medieval capital of the former Armenian kingdom. Also known as “the city with 1,001 churches”, in the 11th century Ani was a cultural center and a regional power with more than 100,000 inhabitants, equal, by its strength, to Constantinople, Baghdad and Damascus. Very near, but in fact insurmountably far away, Ani is today, just like the Biblical mountain Ararat – the Armenian symbol of Armenia – located in Turkey, with which Armenia has not had diplomatic relations for more than two decades. The problematic relationship between the two countries actually goes much deeper into the past, beginning with the centuries-long Ottoman occupation of Armenian territories, the repressions to which the Armenians were exposed by

Monasticism and Maternity In Armenia, the traditional family is still the main pillar of society, and family relations are extremely strong. Young people are expected to get married early, so families with three or more children are a rule rather than an exception. That is why in Armenia, despite deep religiousness, there is almost no monasticism, especially among women. It is very rare that women here would give up marriage and the role of the mother for the love of God.



the Ottoman Empire, all of which culminated in mass persecutions and murders of Armenians during World War One. Thus, with this emotional melody, which best reflects the very essence of the Armenian soul, and which eventually became the anthem of their suffering, Haik said much more about his people and their ethos than by listing historical data, battles and dynasties that ruled there. – Every square inch here is filled with history. There are few people who have the past so ancient, so complex and imbued with tragedy like the Armenians. There are even fewer of those who can be proud of such a rich culture and tradition – Haik explained as we drove through the dilapidated road of the province of Shirak. This small and nationally very homogeneous country, which now has a population of just over three million, existed in the southern Caucasus area in the first millennium BC and is one of the oldest cradles of civilization. The Armenians consider themselves to be direct descendants of Hayk, the son of Noah’s great-grandson, whom they hold as their patriarch and founder of the nation, and after whom they call their country Hayastan. According to the legend, in 2492 BC, he defeated King Nimrod of Babylon and established the first Armenian state in the Ararat region. THE FIRST CHRISTIAN STATE IN THE WORLD Although already in the Bronze Age there were several developed civilizations in this area, such as the Hittite, Nairi Urartu, who all shared in the ethnogenesis of the modern Armenian people, in fact, only

during the 6th century BC, the Armenians began to develop their national consciousness. Since then, their state expanded and strengthened, developing culture and language, giving birth to great rulers. This great harvest peaked with King Tigranes the Great who, between 95 and 66 BC, made Armenia the most powerful kingdom of Southwest Asia. Today’s state borders cover only a small part of the former Armenia, which at its peak occupied areas between the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Mediterranean, and the Urmia Lake in today’s Iran. However, the favorable strategic position of Armenia led to frequent invasions of neighboring nations, such as Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Mongolians, Persians, Ottomans and Russians. Because of this, the periods of independence and submission often alternated throughout its history. During their turbulent past, the Armenians proved to be very capable people, who once played an important role in the Middle East region. They were known as very successful traders, doctors and scientists, but they also excelled as good statesmen. It is known that several Byzantine emperors were of Armenian origin, and that they came to the throne thanks to their military successes. Despite the great temptations and sufferings, the Armenians managed stay together. Their Christian faith was instrumental in this, which became an inseparable part of their cultural identity and the essence of their national being. Namely, the history of Christianity in this region extends almost to the time of Christ and his disciples. Apostles Philip and Jude Thaddeus preached Christ’s teachings at the Armenian court. The new reli-

gion spread rapidly among the people, so that by 301 the Kingdom of Armenia was the first state to recognize Christianity as their official religion. This happened during the reign of Emperor Tiridates III the Great, and thanks to Gregory the Illuminator, who is celebrated as one of the greatest saints of the Armenian church. Therefore, it is not surprising that as many as 95% of the population today expresses their affiliation to the Armenian Apostolic Church. Another powerful pillar of Armenian national identity is their alphabet. It was developed by Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist, an educator, translator of the Holy Scriptures, and a missionary at the very beginning of the 5th century. This marked the beginning of the golden age in the development of Armenian culture, science and literature. Because of this, the Armenians proclaimed him a saint and dedicated numerous monuments, schools, and streets to him.

 Hogevank Monastery, near the village of Sarnagbir Goshavank Monastery, in the province of Tavush

DEFENSE WITH CREATIVITY AND HUMOR Let us leave history for a moment and turn to the Armenian present. Having survived the period of post-Soviet transition, in which the entire industry

Alphabet Park The great pride and respect that the Armenians feel for their alphabet is best illustrated by the fact that in 2005, for the 1600th anniversary of their alphabet, a unique park was built near Aparan, with in 39 monumental letters. In a short time, it has become a real tourist attraction. People from all over Armenia, as well as foreigners, come here to take pictures, most often next to the first letter of their name. SERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018



Alphabet Park and Mount Aragats






 Khachkar (stone cross), church and fortress in the village of Kosh, Aragatzotn province

Herd of horses around Lake Arpi Trchkan Waterfall

collapsed and the country was ruled by tycoons, Armenia is slowly trying to get on its own feet. In a country in which the average salary is just over 300 euros, and a third of the population lives below the poverty line, people handle their existential problems and omnipresent corruption with creativity and humor. Although the chances of employment in one’s profession are minimal, Armenians traditionally invest in education, especially in science and art. – Every house has a piano here and everyone knows how to play chess – Haik would emphasize proudly, and I had the opportunity to see this for myself. To my great surprise, even in the poorest villages, in houses where the last piece of furniture was purchased thirty or more years ago, I often saw a piano and children who practiced on it. Armenians are generally very friendly and hospitable. They usually spend their

Cognac There is also the famous Armenian cognac, which became world famous after the Crimean Peace Conference in Yalta in 1945, where it was served to the participants of the meeting, when Churchill liked it so much that he consumed it every day for the rest of his life.



leisure time with family and friends, most often with good food that they like to make themselves. Guests are honored, and if you happen to accidentally enter someone’s house, even unannounced, expect that the housewife would immediately cover the table with all kinds of delicacies. Armenia has relatively recently started to turn to tourism. Although it is not the simplest destination for travel and exploration, due to the lack of good and affordable accommodation capacities, bad roads and difficulties in communicating with the local population, who (besides Russian) only knows a few words of foreign languages, the ultimate experience is always positive. Most tourists are from Russia, as well as guests from Iran and Arab countries, who here feel liberated from the strict rules imposed by their countries. Lately, there are more and more visitors from Western European countries, especially France and Italy, and often one can run into cyclists from the former states of the Eastern Block, who cruise Armenia on their bikes, from Iran in the south, all the way to Georgia in the north. Armenia is a rather safe country, but one should stay away from the border with Azerbaijan, where there are frequent minor incidents.

THE COLOR OF APRICOT The best starting point for visiting the country is definitely Yerevan. As one of the oldest settlements in the world which has been continuously populated for nearly three millennia, the Armenian capital is recognizable for the spectacular view of Mount Ararat. Architecturally, Yerevan is a very interesting city. It was built in the early 20th century, and is decorated with numerous boulevards and parks. Most of the facades are covered with orange tuff, a volcanic rock, because of which the whole city has a unique color of overripe apricot. This fruit is the national symbol of this country, and orange color on the flag indicates exactly this. The city is dominated by the Yerevan Cascade, the famous stairs that equal their Spanish counterpart in Rome. It is a popular gathering place for tourists and young people, and above it stands the grandiose statue of the Mother of Armenia. The streets are full of people day and night, and so are numerous cafes, museums and galleries. Near the Republic Square, there is a famous market of artwork and craftsmanship of Vernissage, where hundreds of sellers offer the most diverse handicrafts. Here you can

find literally anything – from antiques, lace,  A sailor handmade woolen carpets, gold, jewelry on a replica and ornaments made of obsidian. of a medieval Where to go next? Armenian sailboat, on Lake Sevan Armenia is mostly a mountainous country, therefore it is great for hikers and lovers of wild, unspoiled nature, as well as Vila Kars, made of black tuff, in the fans of various adrenaline sports, such as city of Gyumri paragliding and sport sailing. Mountain chains, crisscrossed with fast and abundant Wine cellar in river streams, together with plateaus, ocIjevan cupy 80 percent of the territory. The largest part of Armenia is at an altitude between 1,000 and 2,500 meters. From vast plateaus, lower mountains and numerous inactive volcanoes rise, including the highest mountain of Armenia – Aragats, 4,095 meters high. Mountain slopes, valleys and canyons make this country much higher than it actually is, and the journey more complicated, but also more exciting. In addition to geographical variations, travelers in Armenia also encounter significant climatic differences. You must be ready for everything – from the semi-desert areas around Tallinn, which resemble the landscape of the Moon, through thick and rainy forests of Tavush, to the alpine meadows of Gegham Mountains and sunny pomegranate plantations around Meghri. SERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018


V I S I T  Hills near Sepasar, with archaeological sites on the peaks, and the mountain wreath Javakheti in the background On Lake Sevan

KEYS TO THE MAGICAL WORLD Listing all the important historical monuments of Armenia is a real mission impossible, let alone visiting all of them. In this country, almost every village can laud itself for at least one old church, a pagan sanctuary in nature, a fortress from the Bronze Age, unusual tombstone, an inscription written in Cuneiform script, a prehistoric archaeological site, or at least a stone cross – khachkar. Actually, wherever you stop, there is something to be seen and explored. However, I will try to highlight some of the sites that must not be missed. In the first place is the sacred city of Echmiadzin, the center of spirituality and religion, in which is the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church is located and some of the oldest basilicas and chapels in the world. Of other sacred objects, we should mention the cathedral in Zvartnots, Hagpat, Sanahin, Khor Virap, Geghard, Sevanavank, Haghartsin, Noravank, as well as Tatev, which can be reached in a 5.7 km long cable car. The must-see list also includes the recently renovated ancient temple of Garni, ancient observatory Karahunj, the cave town of Khndzoresk, the Amberd fortress and Areni cave. The indispensable element of the local tourist offer is the rich national cuisine, which reflects the history and geography of the region from which it originated, but also influences of other cultures. The base is lamb meat dishes, various stuffed leaves and traditional thin bread – lavash. Interesting is the fact that, for the preparation of food, Armenian culinary experts use about 300 species of wild herbs and flowers that are mainly used as spices, but also as main dishes. Armenia is also a wine country. According to the legend, when Noah came out of the Arc after the flood, it was here, on the Armenian soil, that he planted the vine he received from God. The fact that there is a grain of truth in every legend can be seen in the latest archaeological excavations in Areni cave,

Blue Pearl In the heart of the country there is a huge Lake Sevan, which is also called the “Blue Pearl of Armenia” and the Armenian sea. Despite the very cold water, during a short summer season it is hard to find a vacant spot on the beaches around the lake.



where remains of the oldest wine cellar in the world, which was in use 6,100 years ago, were found. It is necessary to mention the friendly relations and deep connections between the people of Armenia and Serbia, which extend far into the past. St. Sava was amazed with the skill of the Armenian builders, and he brought some of them to Serbia. Let us also remember the December of 1988, when a devastating earthquake struck the Armenian town of Gyumri, and Yugoslavia was among the first to send an airplane with humanitarian aid. However, during the landing, there was an explosion and all seven crew members, all Serbs, were killed. On that place the Armenians built a monument of gratitude and with great respect they remember this act of Serbian self-sacrifice. Even today, when you say that you are from Serbia, you can expect a particularly warm welcome. In the end, Haik gave me his recipe that best illustrates the smells and tastes of this unusual country: – Mix the vast steppe plateaus of Shirak with the snow peaks of Mount Aragats, the crystal-clear waters of Lake Sevan and the spectacular gorge of the Akhurian River. Spice it all up with a cry of a golden eagle, scattered herds of sheep, the scent of medicinal herbs and freshly baked bread. Add to this natural mixture abundant quantity of medieval churches, monasteries, stone crosses and mysterious Urartu citadels. And then adorn all this with cosmopolitan appearance of Yerevan, cheerful spirit of Gyumri, and you will discover a magical country full of impressions that will leave you breathless. However, do not be fooled by the idea that only the sightseeing of these sites will be enough to show you the essence of Armenia. Scratch a little deeper under the surface and you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that your favorite memories are in fact linked to its proud, humorous and hospitable inhabitants. Because, only after learning about the works of great Armenian builders and artists, and especially through direct contacts with your hosts, you will begin to understand the soul of this country, the powerful energy emanated from its unique architecture, music and mythology, and especially its unbreakable will in a constant struggle for survival. 




The Challenge of Discovering Slovakia Towrs of Banska Bistrica and Clock Tower



In the central area of this beautiful country, on the Hron River, whose waters reach all the way to Serbia, a Serbian traveler will feel intimacy and recognize familiar relations. It is comfortable for anyone else coming in peace and with a pure heart. Beautiful old buildings, preserved from vain and thoughtless modernizers, all those fortresses and towers, palaces and squares, bells and fountains, enable a complete medieval experience. Add the nature, rich folklore, vivid culture, interesting gastronomy and everything accompanying it. There are many reasons to list this place in your travel plan for the following years Text and Photo: Miodrag Grubački




 View from the Clock Tower Stone fountain


he city of Banska Bystrica, with a population of about 80 thousand, is the administrative center of the region and one of the leading economic centers of Slovakia. It is located in the valley of the Hron, left tributary of the Danube, in the foot of Low Tatras, a mountain massif and national park. About fifty kilometers to the north, the Low turn into the famous High Tatras, the most renowned winter tourist destination in the country. For such reasons, the continental climate here is somewhat more severe than in other parts of Slovakia. The Hron River, whose waters from the Low Tatras, thanks to the Danube, reach all the way to Serbia, is a completely Slovakian river. Its entire course, 298 kilometers long, flows through the country. The area in which Banska Bystrica is located is famous for its mineral resources, especially copper ore, which conditioned its development ever since the Middle Ages. Such an economic status inevitably attracted conquerors, so the defensive aspect was very important during the fortification of city walls. The preserved barbican in the city center, erected in 1512 for defending

Leaning Clock Tower The central square in Banska Bystrica, called after the Slovakian national uprising, is dominated by a twenty meters high clock tower – with one astrological clock and one sundial. It was erected in mid-XVI century, recently completely renewed and made part of the city’s tourism offer. The locals also call it the “Leaning Tower”, because it is leaning 68 centimeters. The leaning took place during the XIX century, due to damaged statics, but it was successfully stopped half a century ago with concrete injections into its foundations.



the local palace, is the most favorite landmark of tourists. At the entrance of the fortification is a former drawbridge, now wide bridge, leading to the towers, whose interior was turned into a restaurant and art pavilion. There is also a XVIII century cathedral within the complex, center of the Banska Bystrica Bishopric, completely restored a few years ago. The towers of the barbican, with powerful bells and flamboyant architecture, with views over the city market and its hubbub, best reflect the spirit of this city – a harmony of the old and the new and temperance in luxury. The towers of Banska Bystrica – these few words only are sufficient to determine this place and its historical heritage. The central square is in the immediate vicinity, dominated by a clock tower and stone fountain. All facades of old buildings in the square are painted uniformly, in a similar shade of beige, and that simplicity creates the strongest effect on the observer. The stone fountain in the center of the square originates from the XVI century, and got its present form about a hundred years ago. After its renovation in 2009, it was illuminated and provided with special sound effects. Next to the fountain is the City Council from the XV century, with an info tourist center in its ground floor. BANSKA ŠTIAVNICA, WORLD HERITAGE The most visited event is the “Radvansky Fair” in the middle of September, when the entire city becomes a big stage with several days of music, drama and folklore perfor-

mances, as well as inevitable gastronomic programs. The festivals are international, so ensembles and orchestras from Serbia, especially its northern province of Vojvodina perform frequently. Last autumn, one of the participants was the children ensemble of the Cultural-Artistic Society “Pionir” from Zrenjanin, who successfully presented a piece of the folklore heritage and culture of their country. They were presented to the audience as traditional friends, coming from a multinational environment, including numerous members of the Slovak national community. There is another important destination in the Banska Bystrica area – Banska Štiavnica, about forty kilometers from the city, a city-museum under the protection of UNESCO, a picturesque photogenic place, nested between two medieval castles, in the shadows of monumental church towers. The castles, like in other similar places, are erected on surrounding hills, and the atmosphere of the lower city is created by buildings of different styles and volumes, making a harmonious whole, successfully preserved from all later inappropriate architectural influences. The world architectural heritage has an excellent representative and chronicle-writer in Banska Štiavnica, since it is considered one of the oldest cities in Slovakia, first mentioned in written documents already in 1156. Especially impressive is the old stone castle, unique symbol of the place. Its oldest parts originate from the XIII century. In mid-XVI century, it was encircled with powerful walls and a fortress, as defense against Turkish invasions. A few years ago,

the EU granted 1,5 million euros for the renovation of the castle, so today numerous visitors experience medieval mysticism in an authentic environment. One of the tourism events in that place are “Salamander Days”. Every September, folklore ensembles, musicians and acting troops from the country and abroad come to this festival of folk art. Old cobblestone streets of Štiavnica are filled with tourists from all sides, equally enjoying historical heritage, art programs and specialties of the local cuisine, offered at every corner. Slovakia is a country which can be compared to Serbia. It doesn’t have a sea, but is abundant in other natural resources, and the mentality of people, as well as their hospitality, is similar. Prices of tourist and other services are very affordable for an average Serbian pocket. The western and eastern part of the country – from its capital of Bratislava to the second biggest Košice – are connected with high-quality roads, towards which all other centers gravitate to, including Banska Bystrica. Located, as the Slovaks like to say “neither in the east, nor in the west”, Banska Bystrica should certainly be enlisted as one of the potential destinations, at least to pass by, during the journey through this interesting, and close to Serbs, Central European country. 

 Banska Štjavnjica, panorama and palace

A Hundred Stairs For only one and a half euro, visitors can reach the belvedere on top of the tower, with a wonderful view of the entire city and its surroundings. There is exactly a hundred wooden stairs to the belvedere, so walking up the stairway through the tower is an interesting experience itself. SERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018



Banska Štjavnjica, Holy Trinity Square






Jewel of


the Arabian




The exotic sultanate on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula captivates with its cleanness, pulsation of the millennium-long culture and feeling for highly modern art. They call it “the Arabian paradise” and “sultanate from 1001 nights”. It merges the geopoetics of the sea, desert and unique mountains. It has an educated ruler and wonderful edifices, museums and opera, picturesque folk costumes and piquant cuisine... This is where Sindbad the Sailor sailed off to his adventures from Text and Photo: Sonja Lapatanov





ver since the ancient times, Oman has been a well-known center on the commercial route between the Mediterranean and Asia, while today, with its openness, it connects the Orient with the Occident. You can see it everywhere, from history and culture to everyday life. It offers its visitors beautiful landscapes: mountains, canyons, deserts, oases, as well as the sandy coast washed by the waters of the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea, or Indian Ocean. It is no accident that, due to its enchanting colors, wondrous shapes, ancient customs and friendly people, Oman is called “the Arabian paradise” and “sultanate from 1001 nights”. The oldest independent Arabian state is ruled by educated and progressive Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, one of the richest people in the world. He has a reputation of a great statesman and is very popular among his people. After succeeding his father in 1970, he made undeveloped Oman one of the richest and most modern Arabian countries. He gave young local experts the opportunity to develop oil and gas industry, mariculture, agriculture, fishing, tourism... The country with a population of four million flourished, while he is the longest ruling leader in the Near and Middle East. Besides Arabic, English is also spoken in Oman, and taught in schools as a compulsory subject. The country has triple natural beauties. Endless white sand beaches offer a view of the wonderful turquoise sea, suitable for diving, cruising, dolphin and turtle watching... On the other side are sand dunes and the desert landscape with beautiful oases. You can ride camels, visit Bedouin camps, drive special vehicles over sand dunes and dried river beds. The third part of Oman beauty is the mountain terrains, with their unique ecosystem.

Place of Dropping and Hiding The origin of the name of Muscat is disputable. Some claim that it’s derived from ancient Persian, others that it’s from Arabian. They say it means stronghold, hidden place, place of dropping, which might be true. Ship anchors have been dropped in the harbor since the ancient times. On the other side, the Al Hajar mountains (whose peaks, more than 3.000 meters high, resemble Alpine combs) fence the cove and vertically drop down to the sea.



The Omanis are particularly friendly and hospitable people, with the constant presence of the Oriental spirit. It floats through the capital of Muscat, through valleys, mountains, areas of scented thyme and through the desert, opposed by the tropical south and its lush greenery. THE CLEANEST ARABIAN CAPITAL Muscat is the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Oman. The city, an important port of the Near East, has a population of about 400.000. It is in the northwestern part of the country, on the coast of the Gulf of Oman, and is rightfully considered the cleanest Arabian capital. This, along with numerous cultural and historical landmarks, makes it very attractive for tourists from all over the world. Sailors say that this harbor has always had a special atmosphere, with its old fortresses and modern architecture. Even modern commercial centers here exist in harmony with traditional culture. Wedged between the sea and the mo­ untains, Muscat is made of smaller municipalities mutually connected by mountain passes. Muttrah, Ruwi, Al Qurum, Al Seeb... For practical reasons, Muscat has recently been spreading mostly to the south, to the area of the coastal plain of Al Batinah. That is how the Metropolitan Area was created, a large metro area with several smaller and bigger villages grown into one whole. It is the main artery of Oman, the main element of its economic and financial power. Almost half of the population consists of migrant workers from Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and the Philippines. This cheap labor force enables large construction works throughout the country. Construction sites in Muscat work twenty-four hours a day, and the works, just like in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, are interrupted only by desert storms. Shopping malls, residential areas, new industrial plants, have been completed in a very short time. Despite the chronic lack of water, free spaces in such districts are covered with grass and decorative plants! The old center of Muscat, in the southern part of the Metropolitan Area, continues losing its importance and lags behind the business suburbs. This is where






representative edifices are located, such as Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s Al Alam Palace and government buildings. Since the high mountains prevent the expansion and further construction of the city center, since 1970, Ruwi grew into a financial quarter, Muttrah into a business center and Al Seeb into an infrastructure center. Old Muscat therefore lost its primacy, but not its authentic features. The old city core is in a small cove with a natural harbor, one part of it belonging to the Sultan’s palace. It is surrounded with preserved XVI century forts of Al-Jalali and Al-Mirani, from the times of Portuguese dominion. FROM PALACES TO SOUKS It is a feature of the entire country, especially Muscat. This city shines with cleanness and order. It has nurtured lawns, alleys, decorative shrubs and colorful flowers. The city’s communal services clean the city three times a day, and littering, especially from vehicles, is liable to fines and 10 days of imprisonment. Community services were introduced, so that the prisoners would not waste time. Trees are planted along highways, which later, with their roots and treetops, protect the asphalt from sand carried by the desert wind. Although water is worth gold, young trees are watered regularly. They are protected with small fences and nets and no one breaks them. Worth visiting in Muscat is the Natural History Museum (rich collection of local flora and fauna fossils) and Bait Al

Tourism as the Key One of the most beautiful underwater coral reefs in the world spreads along the Omani coast. Some of the hotels here belong to reputable international five-star hotel chains. Oman has a unique approach to numerous tourist attractions, skillfully interweaving rich cultural heritage and modern style.

Zubair (collection of antiquities, traditional weapons, jewelry and urban and rural costumes). Must see landmarks are also the impressive Sultan’s Palace, surrounded with beautiful gardens, and Al Alam palace from the XVI century. After taking a walk along the corniche (seafront), it is common to visit the picturesque Muttrah souk, one of the oldest in Oman. The merchants are very polite with foreigners, as it is the case everywhere in this country. The souk is a labyrinth of covered narrow streets, lined with goldsmith, spice, textile, souvenir, lantern, slippers, exotic scents and thyme and local specialties shops. The traditional way of dressing is still respected in Oman. Almost all men are dressed in traditional dishdasha, a long white robe, shiny clean even when worn by shepherds, who walk with their flocks all day. “Who washes your dishdasha and how do you achieve that incredible whiteness?” we asked. “Only mom knows how to do it!” they replied. Younger men also wear a lavishly embroidered cap, resembling a round box. Older men wear scarves, made of white cotton or pastel colored cashmere,




Outlined by Legends This is where the high command of Alexander of Macedonia used to be in ancient times. Oman is also the home of stories from “1001 nights”. It used to be a naval power, from whose coast Sindbad the Sailor set off to his unforgettable adventures.

with tassels, skillfully wrapped into an elegant turban. Some dishdashas have a tassel, falling to the chest as part of the neckline. It is common to put some perfume on the tassel, so when the owner wishes to refresh himself, he puts it under his nose. A very important detail in the Omani male world is the dagger, also known as the Omani khanjar. This traditional short curved sword, sharpened from both sides, is considered a symbol of masculinity and elegance, a sign of respect and prestige in the society. Most women in Oman wear a black, modest abaya outside of the house, made of light and transparent material, with sleeves usually embroidered with golden thread or pearls. Some women also wear a hijab, typical Muslim scarf for covering their hair. In rural areas and among Bedouins, women wear a kind of mask, and in urban areas a veil, with an opening showing bright, playful eyes and eyelids, extravagantly colored with turquoise, purple or emerald eye shadows. The traditional Omani female robe varies in regions, material, weaving, cut and colors. Common for all women is complementing their outfit with jewelry, various ornaments, cosmetic de-



tails, henna tattoos, as well as branded and handmade clothes. TEMPLE AND OPERA Sultan Qaboos Mosque or the Grand Mosque, in the Ghubra suburb, is the most famous in Oman and one of the biggest in the region. It can take 20.000 worshippers. The gates of this magnificent edifice, completed in 2001, are also open for tourists and members of other confessions, making it the favorite tourist attraction of Muscat. Non-Muslims must strictly abide to the dress code and time determined for visiting the main prayer hall. The mosque is located inside an enormous fenced area. It has five minarets and two prayer halls, surrounded with a large yard, garden and fountains. The complex was built from white Indian sandstone, with elements of Omani, Persian and Egyptian design. The peak of beauty is the luxurious central prayer hall, made of white and gray marble, with striking ceramic tiles. The main chandelier, fifteen meters tall, is decorated with Swarovski crystals, lit by more a thousand light bulbs. The floor is covered with a rug, second biggest in the world, hand-woven in Iran, 60 meters wide and 70 long. Opposite from that masterpiece is a ceiling, richly ornamented with calligraphy and arabesques. The dramatic latticed dome is fifty meters high, and on the floor there is room for 6.600 prayer rugs. This magnificent edifice of modern Islamic architecture was gifted to the nation by Sultan Qaboos, to mark the thirti-

eth anniversary of his rule in Oman. The Royal Opera House in Muscat should also be visited. This building, opened in October 2011, was erected upon the initiative of Sultan Qaboos. Designed in the classic Islamic style, it is part of the new urban center. Not without a reason, it is called “the jewel of the East”. The most famous opera and ballet names and ensembles from all over the world performed in this house of culture. IN A MELON, AS SWEET AS HONEY Due to the vicinity of the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman, there is an extraordinary offer of fresh fish and sea food. They can be bought at markets or tasted in local restaurants. Prices in restaurants are acceptable. According to the recommendation of the “Air Serbia” staff, flying to Muscat via Abu Dhabi, we tried the “Turkish House” restaurant, near our “Platinum” Hotel. There are not many tables inside, so there is always a line in front of the restaurant. But it’s worth the wait. The restaurant interior is very modest, but the food is fantastic.

If they don’t accept the recommendation of friendly waiters, guests may choose seafood and fish caught that day, as well as the way it will be prepared. Grilled, fried, roasted, with sauce, with side dishes, fresh vegetable salads, or tasty appetizers made of rocket salad, hummus, pickles, olives, chilly and homemade scented bread from the furnace. Some of the favorite specialties of this restaurant are grilled fish, including hamour, red snapper, sea bass, koofer, king fish, sea food or shrimps with red sauce, Omani lobster. The dishes are usually accompanied with freshly squeezed juices and lemonade-mintanade, with blended mint leaves. Shalgam is a refreshing sour-hot nonalcoholic drink, similar to sauerkraut juice. For desert, guests usually order juice served in a melon, as sweet as honey. 

Exemplary Toilets State toilets are everywhere along the roads in Oman, strongly built, for men and women, with running water and an employee taking care of them twenty-four hours a day. The employee lives in the same object, with food, water and other supplies regularly delivered to him.







This archipelago consisting of 155 islands in the Indian Ocean is about 1.500 kilometers from the eastern African coast and about 1.000 kilometers northeast from Madagascar. It is the smallest African state according to its population. The islands were uninhabited until two centuries ago, when cultural and racial influences of the French, Africans, Indians and Chinese intersected in them. The present Creole population and their heritage testify about such intersecting. The main economic activity is tourism, and the islands are famous for gigantic turtles and coco de mer nuts

Text and Photo: Josip Šarić





he expression “collateral damage” usually has an unfavorable meaning, except when speaking about the Seychelles as one of the stations when returning from South Africa to Europe. One should listen to their reason, which, in this case, instructed to grasp the opportunity and postpone the connecting flight for a week. Those days are probably the most pleasant waiting for an airplane one can imagine. But let’s start from the beginning... Listening to the dull rumbling of airplane engines and occasional cries of passengers woke up from their sleep by unexpected turbulences, we watch the endless vastness far below the wings carrying us to our destination. Suddenly, we notice a few small green spots on a dark blue background, becoming larger and larger, the flaps on the wings are dropping, and we hear the engines drawing out wheels. Finally... A tropical paradise in the blue Indian Ocean is before us. After a short taxi on the runway, the plane stops and we leave the air-conditioned cabin full of enthusiasm for exploring. The first impression is actually a shock by the enormous humidity. We quickly pass the border formalities while drops of sweat run down our faces. The airport building, resembling a provincial bus station, has no walls, so warm air from numerous fans installed instead of air-conditions weakly flows through the pillars. The rented miniature car is appropriate for the narrow and winding roads cutting the main island of Mahé, which will be our home for the following days. The adventure begins. IN FOUR COLORS The Seychelles consist of the so-called inner and outer islands. The biggest and easiest to visit among the inner islands are the main island of Mahé, with the capital city of Victoria, Praslin and La Digue. The biggest outer island is the enormous coral reef of Aldabra. Until a bit less than 200 years ago, the total of the 115 islands of the Seychelles were uninhabited. The shortest distance from land, also an island, Madagascar, is 1.000 kilometers, thus explaining the late settlement. However, despite late colonization and difficult ac-



cess, the Seychelles represent an authentic small multiethnic pot, with mixed cultural influences of the Europeans, Africans and Asians, today reflected in the Creole population and their historical heritage. That is why Christian and Hindu temples stand one next to another without any conflicts. Green, blue, turquoise, white – those are colors which will constantly attack our vision in the following days. The sea of green under which the island stumbles is indescribable. Callas, philodendrons, bananas, passion fruit, protea, lime, star fruit, coconuts and numerous other species, unknown to us, cover almost every foot of this island like noble weeds. It’s no wonder that the national flower of the Seychelles is an orchid – payanke. The peaceful plants can also be dangerous in certain situations, so the first advice you get when renting a car is not to park it under a coconut palm. After seeing cars with dents on their body, we realized the reason for the warning. Also, what’s unpleasant for the vehicle is certainly also unpleasant for the drivers outside of it, so one must look up towards the clusters of large coconuts from time to time. With our necks stiff from constant watching into branches of palm trees and coconuts, we finally reach the beach, with glittering coral sand almost provoking “snow blindness”. August is a winter month on the southern hemisphere, so the Seychelles’ beaches are empty despite the pleasant temperature of 26–28 degrees Celsius. A glance on the nearby board and warning written in five languages, including local Creole, reveals one of the reasons for it being so: “Warning! Very dangerous currents (June to September)!” The winter is the monsoon period, when strong winds from the open sea roll enormous waves to the shore, as well as heavy clouds bringing sudden downpours. The waves breaking on the coral barriers, immediately before the shore, become invisible particles carried by the wind and sticking to everything they come upon. It is also valid for people who, after a brief visit to the beach, become salted as if ready for mummification, even without bathing in the sea. The same winds decrease the humidity in wintertime to the “acceptable” 70-80 percent, compared to the summer humidity, which is most often 90-100 percent.









ENTIRE COUNTRY AS A BOTANICAL GARDEN The coast is dominated by granite rocks with flattened surfaces due to their constant fighting with aggressive waves of the Indian Ocean, ruthlessly eroding everything in its way with unyielding appetite. The whiteness of the sand on almost all tropical beaches is an especially enchanting background, with dark shadows of palm trees hanging over the water, as if they also want to dive into the turquoise depths. The glittering of the sand loses some of its pure whiteness when we

Coco de mer The Seychelles are home to the biggest nut in the world, known as coco de mer. The palm tree that bears this nut has male and female trees, and the strange game of evolution made the male flower resemble the male reproductive organ and the fruit the female. That bizarre event led to the legend stating that the Seychelles are the biblical Eden, the real garden of paradise. This palm tree can live up to two hundred years, and its famous fruit can weigh up to 18 kilograms. Its trunks are attentively supervised and the trade of fruit and its export strictly controlled.



think of its origin. About 30 percent of its content is made of particles of crushed granite rocks and about 70 percent is the undigested product of the digestive system of parrotfish, which nibble the corals near the shore. That means... Draw your own conclusion. The central part of the northern part of Mahé island is the Morne Seychelloise national park. Thinking that greenery cannot be thicker than the one seen while traveling to the national park is so wrong. Plants are blossoming everywhere, trees striving towards the sky, creepers climbing up their trunks, others descending from the branches towards the ground. What doesn’t grow vertically spreads horizontally. The beauty of untouched nature and the greenery which covers the sky slowly becomes a burden, arousing an almost claustrophobic feeling. However, a view towards the valley and open ocean spreads from the belvedere on the mountain top, while the clear blue sky and turquoise color of the water chase away the psychedelic feeling aroused by all shades of green.

A bit fed up with this ecological catharsis for all true nature lovers, we go down towards Victoria, the capital city with a population of less than thirty thousand, which is one third of the entire population of the Seychelles. Tourism arrived to the Seychelles a long time ago, but it cannot be noticed in the city streets as much as in other tourist destinations. The city looks and lives as if it has just woken up from the colonial dream of the previous empire, after whose queen it was named, although it was founded by the French in 1778. One of the must see spots in Victoria besides the Natural Museum and History Museum is the Botanical Garden. The presence of a Botanical Garden in an island which itself is an enormous botanical garden is a bit paradoxical. However, in the garden cultivated by the hands of its employees, visitors can see two natural rarities the Seychelles are proud of. The first is the already mentioned coco de mer palm, and the second are gigantic turtles, known to us mostly from stories about Galapagos and its rare animal species.

Palm trees, the sun, sand, sea and a bit of exploring, with an abundance of exotic fruit and wonderfully spiced Creole food, make days pass very quickly. For those wanting to relax, without much activity except swimming, sunbathing and a few short excursions, the Seychelles are a promised destination. For those a bit more curious, who feel cramped in these islands after a few days, the Seychelles are a place worth visiting, but probably not returning to. The tropical paradise welcomed, hosted and saw us off, remaining calm and sleepy in its turquoise surrounding, covered by blue skies, through which we sailed off into new adventures. 

Turtles Gigantic turtles used to inhabit islands throughout the Pacific and Indian Ocean. They were distinguished by uncontrolled hunting by the first colonialists and changes in their natural environment caused by man, so today they can be seen only in Galapagos and the Seychelles. The small oasis of these turtles in the Botanical Garden in Victoria is only a small part of the large colony in the Aldabra atoll. If the official data is correct, that atoll is home to the biggest colony of gigantic turtles in the world, with more than 150.000 individuals. SERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018





A Hindu temple







According to a humorous Belgrade legend, this island was discovered by a certain Tasa from Zvezdara, who ran away from his nagging wife one spring, so the island was named after him. Thassos used to be called “the swimming forest”. It was famous for gold, marble, the best olive oil and miracles of Archangel Michael. Even today one can experience a lot there, our way, spontaneously. We can also see it from the excerpts from the island diary of one of our playful travel writers, who didn’t want to return home at the end of the summer By: Miloš Lazić

View of Mt. Athos from Thasos




 Grandpa Joanis and kir Alekos Kocikelis

 View of Limenas, capital of Thasos Tavern “Retro” in Panagia


traveler in Greece always has a chance to meet a remarkable person: a few years ago in Corfu it was Socrates, captain of the sightseeing boat and comforter of lonely female tourists, and now in Thassos, Christos, whom guests of his hotel ignorantly call Chris, his mother Despina calls him Christopulo, and Serbs – “where are you, bro”. Most of this travelogue was created with his help, so if it ever comes into his hands, here – Eucharisto, aderfos. We traveled by bus. We started off from Belgrade at five p.m. and reached Keramota, a town on the Aegean shore, with two half-hour breaks and two state borders, around seven a.m. From there we took a ferryboat to Thassos and already around nine reached the “Ioannis” hotel on Chrisa Amodia, the Golden Shore, our final destination. We moved our watches one hour ahead and immediately got over the tough problems provoked by the time difference with two ouzos. Already the first day we met all the important persons here: Christos Papadimitriu, owner, manager and most hard-work-

Simplicity Lin Christina McRay, our new friend, Irish lady from Alster, has been living in Thassos for ten years. She supports herself and her poetic soul working as a clerk. – Everyone here does something else besides regular jobs – says Lin. – Most have olive orchards or vineyards, many go fishing, some work in stone-pits and workshops for marble processing... Christos, owner of the “Ioannis” hotel, works as a waiter, while his grandfather Ioannis, although he’s already ninety-three, works in the garden which can feed the hotel guests for a month. That’s what I liked about these people and that’s why I stayed. Then again, I live here with six hundred euros like in London with two and a half thousand. And without so many worries.



ing waiter in the hotel, his older brother Dimitris, an important figure in the Thassos Hotel Owners Association (there are about two hundred hotels on the island, counting without the bungalows, apartments or rooms which almost everyone rents), their mother Kira Despina, bartender Sotiros, chef Thanasis, barmen on the pool bar Alexandros, Stavros, owner and only worker in the neighborhood “Bayamos” (competition), and some others, but we’ll talk about them later. The Golden Shore was in front of us, the second most beautiful beach in Greece and seventh in the entire Mediterranean, while behind us was the mighty Ipsarion, a green cliff with its peak high above the clouds, about a thousand and two hundred meters high, from where a flock of eagles supervised the peacefulness of the island and peace of us, its guests. KIR ALEKOS’ AFTERNOON REST Our first day at dinner, Christos told us many known and unknown legends; history and mythology are so connected and intersected in Greece, that it’s sometimes hard to separate them and understand what is what. For example, it is known that St. Luke exercised asceticism and died in Thassos, and that the beautiful island was visited by John the Theologian and Apostle Paul. Religious Greeks, which means all Greeks, believe that Archangel Michel was also on the island, at least to perform one of his miracles before Luke. He also told us that crusaders visited Thassos as well, led by King Richard, known as the Lionheart. How so? Like this: when Christos took us to Panagia to




 Stone roofs of the village of Panagia


see the small Church of the Intercession of the Theotokos from the XV century, we passed by the choir and he showed us, in a conspirative manner, a display case with a simple colorful cloth inside it. We asked him what kind of relic that was, and he whispered that it was the flag of Richard the Lionheart and that it was there since 1182. We were confused and kept asking him questions, only to finally extort his confession, after persistent bothering, that the flag was stolen from incautious guards, while they stayed in a camp on their way to Jerusalem. – Well, there’s no reason to be ashamed of it – we reassured him. – The English stole all your history in front of your nose and exhibited it shamelessly in their museums, as if it were their own. This flag is just a crumb of that dishonorable debt... – Oh, if it were only the English that had robbed us – he sighed. There were two strange events worth describing, so the reader wouldn’t think that stealing flags and other things is customary in Thassos. A few days later, we came to Panagia, the most beautiful village on the island, to spend some time in the “Retro” tavern, where most of the leisured locals gather in hot summer days. We ordered Greek coffee and tsipouro. Snacks also arrived: goat cheese, ham and inevitable olives. All on the house, as it’s the custom here. We took water, SRBIJA  SPECIJALNO IZDAWE  2018.

incomparably better than the one frightened tourists bought in supermarkets, from the public fountain burbling in the middle of the tavern garden. The third round was on Kir Alekos Kotsikelis, owner of the tavern, and then, to our surprise, he brought another round and locked the tavern, showing us with his hands that he will drop by his house to eat. After half an hour, Papus Ioannis, Christo’s grandfather, joined us. We told him that the owner went to lunch and that he should be back any moment, but the old man youthfully laughed: – On hot days like this, he likes to lie down for a while after lunch. He certainly won’t be back for another two hours. – But we didn’t pay the bill – we panicked. – You’ll pay tomorrow, or when you come next time. Next year... The second case could’ve had tragic consequences. From a café in the Limenas port, we rushed into a bus just starting off to Skala Potamia, when all of a sudden, a young waiter from the café jumped in front of the bus. “Suicide”, we thought in a flash of a second; we paid our bill?! Nope: he stopped the bus because he didn’t return us the change – one euro. – But, it is tip – said one of our compatriots. – It’s a tip. – Eucharisto – he laughed, bowed and left the bus.

PILGRIMAGE OF ORDINARY SINNERS We met sweet Kira Angelica, whom we immediately renamed Anđelka, during an exciting tour of the island. She is a tourist guide, and we smuggled into her group of mostly grumpy and not too curious Englishmen, whom she described Thassos, its history and people, through anecdotes, probably to make them laugh and thereby remember at least something. While wandering around with Christos, our new friend and brother, we learned a lot more about the places we visited, but Anđelka is worth mentioning because of three important events on the road and her sincere worry about us, intruders, whom she recognized as Serbian brothers. Aliki is an old fishermen village on the eastern side of the island, raised or left in the place of a Hellenic city with a port, whose remains are still in the left of the two bays. The bays are made by a peninsula, on which marble, the best in ancient Macedonia, was dug from the ancient times. Remains of two smaller temples, separated by a paved main street are still recognizable in the port. Both have big marble pedestals, but archeologists still didn’t determine whether they were altars or monuments. And whose. On the right, in the hill above the peninsula, there were two caves where many

figurines of Apollo and Eros were discovered. That was everything we learned from our Anđelka. The Englishmen rushed to a tavern next to a beautiful beach on the shore of the right bay and we continued wandering around. So, both temples (probably dedicated to Apollo and Eros) with young priests, were places where sailors, mad from years spent in the open sea and longing fed with wine and imagination, as well as their wives, faltered in their faithfulness, sought and found consolation. Thus the figurines of Apollo and Eros. Satisfied, although also a bit confused by our discovery, we followed our group to an Italian café, sat down and ordered drinks. After fifteen minutes of waiting in vain, we left to a tavern on top of a cliff, with a waving Greek flag. As if they were waiting only for us: they brought us drinks even before we sat down, turned the music louder when they realized we liked it, treated us as kings, not to speak about the prices.

 Monastery of Archangel Michael, on the south

Miracles People say that the water taken from the miraculous spring of Archangel Michael in the monastery dedicated to him is salutary. Thousands of gold and silver chains hanging on the icon representing the Archangel performing his miracle before St. Luke testify about it. Women whom the Archangel helped give birth leave the chains, while the swords, about twenty under the icon, are left by fathers who got a son. SERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018





All of a sudden, as we were just starting the second round, Anđelka appeared worried sick. She asked what was wrong and why we left so abruptly. – In Serbia, Kira Angelica, we don’t wait for waiters more than two or three minutes – we explained. – Patience is not exactly our greatest asset... She looked at us sentimentally. – It’s the same with us, Greeks – she shouted somehow joyfully, while some of those unfortunate Englishmen in the tavern below still waited for someone to serve them. RECREATIONAL CATECHESIS Greeks are very religious people. Even agnostics go to church, showing their respect for the Orthodox tradition of their nation. We proved it when we discovered the toponyms Panagia (Virgin Mary), Teologos, Agios Panteleimonas, Papalimani (Priest’s Port), Agios Georgios and alike. This should be mentioned because we followed our Englishmen to the Monastery of Archangel Michael, metochion of the Mt. Athos Filotheou Monastery, built on a cliff above the sea and around the church raised by St. Luke two millennia ago. Unlike the ancient little church, the monastery is relatively new: the quarters were built in 1974. After realizing somehow that we were Serbs and Orthodox brothers, the prior allowed us to make a few photos in the Church of Archangel Michael. But – only us! Perhaps she would be merciful to others as well if they hadn’t rushed through the outside gates shamelessly dressed. That was their doom. Grandmas in shorts and old men in short pants were given some kind of scarves to cover their nude, white, withered legs before walking inside. However, she had to intervene again when she noticed that they all entered the church with straw hats. They ruined everything for the third time when they started taking candles, without paying them, and putting them into their beach bags, to take them as souvenirs. Then mother prior raised her eyes towards the sky, sighed, crossed herself and gave up on them, and us. Before departing, we bought a box of thyme, prayer beads and booklet History

of the Monastery of Holy Archangel Michael on Thassos in the monastery souvenir shop. The book was printed in Serbian as well, written and published by the nuns, some of them surely Serbian. We learned that there were many of our people in Thassos.

 Little church above Pefkari Greek ship with Serbian flag in the port of Limenaria

GREEK DAUGHTERS-IN-LAW AND SERBIAN SONS-IN-LAW Mr. John, also known as Jovan in his hometown of Rogatica, came to Greece without a visa. He has an Australian passport, so it’s fine. He is used to going by car everywhere, so he began visiting car rental agencies as soon as we arrived. He is important for this story because his persistent curiosity discovered that as many as fifteen Serbian women, Greek daughters-in-law, are living and working in Thassos. He first found Paskalis Tsindomis, a friendly owner of a car rental agency, married to Jasmina Jovankić from Sopot. – He speaks Serbian, man – said Mr. John confusedly. Paskalis greeted us as his family. Perhaps because we, out of the blue, addressed him intimately: “Hi, son-in-law!” He burst out laughing. – We got married a year ago, and only three months ago visited her family in Kosmaj for the first time – he said, but we couldn’t make out whether he was praising or complaining. – As the custom is in Greece, I took my mother-in-law and Jasmina’s grandmother a gift: five liters of olive oil for each. What a shame for me... They must’ve thought they have a crazy son-in-law, who brings them oil the first



 Greek tavern “Knez Mihailova” in Limenaria


Photo: Željko Sinobad and NR Press

time he visits them. Then I pulled out: I prepared them grilled sea fish and spiced it with olive oil. When you try that, you forgive everything. They live in Potos, in the southern part of the island. We must, he says, pay them a visit, especially because there are six Serbian women married in their little town. – Big Serbia – said Paskalis laughing. Then he made a phone call to Jasmina: she was surprised and happy as if someone brought Kosmaj to her as a gift. It’s nice, she said, to hear compatriots, and even nicer to see them. They’ll give us a car and we can drop by their house for lunch. Too bad we disappointed her. But there will certainly be many guests from Serbia in Thassos this summer... She’ll have a chance to meet our people. The next day we experienced another surprise. We were in Limenas, the capital of Thassos, to see the remains of the ancient agora and a very well preserved amphitheater, when suddenly, passing by

a shady garden of the “Paleo Limani” (Old Port) tavern, someone addressed us in Serbian: – Enjoying yourself, fellow countrymen? The guy was smiling, dark haired, looking like a real Greek, but it turned out he was from Belgrade, from Rakovica. He’s been living on this island for twelve years, his wife is Greek, teacher, they have two children. He works as a waiter in summer and collects olives in winters. It’s fine for them. – Eight of our guys are married to Greek women here – he said. – Wow, big Serbia – we repeated Paskalis’ words. – Quiet, someone might hear you – he warned us turning around ostensibly worried. He learned from us that, besides eight sons-in-law, there are fifteen daughtersin-law from Serbia, and disappointedly shrugged his shoulders: – So, they’re still leading fifteen to eight! 


Two Million Overnight Stays



The highest growth in tourist turnover in the Serbian capital was recorded by guests from Israel (204%) and China (131%). The most numerous guests were Turks, and from cruisers these were Germans, Americans and Scandinavians. With tendencies of further growth. The creative and smart appearances of the Tourist Organization of Belgrade at international fairs, among other factors, have been successful. And they will continue to do the same in 2018, with many new elements



D I A L  Belgrade Tourism Fair and concert in Kalemegdan park


n 2017, Belgrade was visited by a total of 1,024,727 guests (16% more than last year), with 2,179,996 overnight stays (19% more). Of the total number of tourists in Belgrade in 2017, there were 862,679 foreign guests (18 percent more than last year). The most numerous guests were Turks, Croats, Germans, Greeks, guests from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and those from Slovenia, Bulgaria, Israel, China and Montenegro. The biggest increase in the previous year was recorded by tourists from Israel with 204 percent, China with 131 percent, and the US with 30 percent in the previous year. Therefore, these countries are markets with the most significant growth for Belgrade. The total number of overnight stays in Belgrade was 2,179,996, which is 19 percent more than in 2016. Of this, foreign guests made 21 percent more overnight stays than last year. To the total number of tourists in Belgrade we should add almost 80,000 of those who visited Belgrade in 2017 by river boats. They are not included in the previous statistical data, because they do not stay in Belgrade accommodation facilities. The most numerous guests on the cruisers are Germans, Americans and Scandinavians, who stay in Belgrade for one night and two days, at the average. TOB AT INTERNATIONAL FAIRS

Photo: From the publication “Welcome to Belgrade”, published by the TOB


Already at the beginning of this year, the Tourist Organization of Belgrade recorded new successes at international tourism fairs. After last year’s awards at the fairs and presentations in Shanghai, Beijing and Abu Dhabi, the Tourist Organization of Belgrade received an award in Istanbul for the most cooperative and most professional stand at the EMITT 2018 Fair, the fifth largest tourism fair in the world. This year’s participation at the fair in Turkey was one of the most successful, both in terms of the number and importance of business meetings held with the Turkish tourism industry, as well as the overall relations of the two countries. Therefore, a record number of guests from Turkey in Belgrade is expected again this year. – ​At the Istanbul Tourism Fair, Belgrade was presented as a gate or even the SRBIJA  SPECIJALNO IZDAWE  2018.

capital of the Balkans, which, according to the number of Turkish guests, it actually is – said Miodrag Popović, director of the Tourist Organization of Belgrade in a statement for the Turkish media. – Such an appearance, as well as continuous high-level meetings, i.e. growth in the overall economic relations of the two countries, will promote further increase in the number of guests from Turkey in Belgrade this year. Increasingly important are becoming the tours that will, from Belgrade, continue to Novi Pazar, Vojvodina, Višegrad or Trebinje. The first day at the fair was marked by the visit of Sandra Vojinović, Serbian Consul to Istanbul. A large number of business meetings were held, with the great interest of agents, tour operators and journalists. Tourists from Turkey are in the first place by the number of arrivals of foreign visitors to Belgrade. Last year, a total of 82,227 Turks visited the Serbian capital (annual growth of 19%). The stability in the increase in the number of Turkish guests in Belgrade in recent years makes this tourist market extremely important for the tourism of Belgrade. In January, the Tourist Organization of Belgrade appeared at the international tourism fair in Stuttgart “CMT 2018”, where it presented the overall tourist offer of the city, with a special emphasis on the city break, youth, transit and cultural tourism. At the International Tourism Fair in Slovakia, “ITF SLOVAKIATOUR 2018”, where the TOB participated with the Tourist Organization of Vojvodina, the greatest interest of visitors was for short city breaks, sports events, festivals, cultural heritage exchange, and nautical tourism. Slobodan Unković, deputy director of the Tourist Organization of Belgrade, spoke at a traditional reception for journalists and guests organized at the Serbian stand. On that occasion, in the presence of Šani Dermaku, the Serbian Ambassador to Slovakia, an agreement was reached with Lubos Fellner, the owner of “Bubo” Tourist Agency, the largest in that country, on the inclusion of a program for visits to Belgrade and Serbia in the annual catalog of this tour operator for 2019.




Diverse Program Ahead The Tourist Organization of Belgrade will have appearances at tourism fairs in Sofia, Moscow, Berlin, Emirates. Also important is its appearances at the Belgrade Tourism Fair from February 22nd to 26th, when all segments of the tourist offer of the Serbian capital will be presented in four days.

AMBITIOUSLY IN 2018 Slovenian tourists are frequent guests in Belgrade, using the city break programs several times a year, primarily motivated by the Belgrade’s rich calendar of events. Because of this, the TOB participated at “Natour Alpe–Adria 2018” fair in Ljubljana. According to the data for 2017, tourists from Slovenia are in the sixth place by the number of visitors in Belgrade. The offer of the Serbian capital was also presented in the market of Israel, the largest and fastest growing tourist market for Belgrade (as we said, growth of 204% in 2017). At the “IMTM 2018” fair in Tel Aviv, possibilities for traveling to Belgrade, city break, an active holiday, and charms of Serbian cuisine were presented, as well as specialized tour packages for guests from Israel. In 2017, tourists from Israel got onto the list of Top  Yugoslav Drama 10 guests in Belgrade, eighth place by Theatre and number and second by number of over“Beograđanka” night stays. With the tendency of further



growth. The presentation of Belgrade and Serbia for the largest agents and tour operators from Israel was held at the fair, as a special promotional and business event. Judging by the impressions of tour operators and journalists, Belgrade and Serbia will be included in the offer of an increasing number of Israeli agencies, which will significantly influence the further tourist traffic of guests from this country. Within the “Mimosa Festival” in Herceg Novi, in early February the Tourist Organization of Belgrade presented Belgrade’s offer through the cultural, artistic and culinary program of Skadarlija, the most famous attraction of the Serbian capital. The visitors enjoyed the art program that takes place every year in front of the House of Đura Jakšić in Skadarlija, with songs, dance and short performances, listening to anecdotes about the most famous bohemians of Skadarlija. Part of the program was the performance of actress Nataša Poposka with the production of the Belgrade City Museum , which speaks of the historical ties between Serbia and Montenegro. Art Center “Talija” also performed its program. The “Mimosa Festival” was founded in 1969 and is one of the most important events in Montenegro. Since 1991 it has been a member of the Federation European Carnival Cities (FECC). 


Business Unit “Radojka Lakić” on Avala Build on the foundations of a building from the late 1930’s, it is at the same time the seat of the Institution of Students’ resort “Belgrade”. It is located on the most beautiful part of the mountain of Avala, on the outskirts of the capital of Serbia. After it was demolishes in 1999, during the aggression of the North Atlantic Pact against Serbia, the entire building was restored gradually. Today it is one of the most modern students’ resorts in this part of Europe. It provides excellent accommodation, food and the entire range of other services to students, as well as third party users. It consists of two parts:

New building “Avala” On a surface area of 5.357 square meters, it has 158 beds. It has a restaurant with 200 seats, a conference room with 150 seats, seminar room with 2x30 seats, and summer garden with 200 seats.

Annex Its capacity is 73 beds in double and triple rooms. It has a restaurant with 180 seats. 011 3907 946 •

General Ždanova 201, 11226 Belgrade 011 3907 947 • •





From the beginning shaped in line with European values, ​​and modeled after the best examples in continental tourism, Vrnjačka Banja has maintained such orientation even today. In recent years, a lot has been invested in developing new and renovating old hotel facilities, beautification of the town, infrastructure, sports and cultural and entertainment amenities. All this year will climax on 14 July, the 150th birthday of Vrnjačka Banja


n the year of its great jubilee, Vrnjačka Banja is welcoming its guests in an even more developed and attractive ambience. Artificial waterfall along the Čajka hill, another three kilometers of arranged walking trails, Vrnjačka Promenade in a brand new splendor, five new luxury



hotels, new tourist facilities and attractions, opening of the swimming pool of the National Water Polo Center... The new Gymnasium building and reconstructed building of the Health Center are also pride of the people of Vrnjačka Banja. There are a large number of new events, and the al-

ready traditional festivals and other events have been enriched – Vrnjački Carnival, “The Love Fest”, Film Screenplay Festival... There are also many other events throughout the year, which will be crowned by the central jubilee celebration, on July 14, on the 150th birthday of Vrnjačka Banja. All these are just some of the reasons why this year you have to visit the “Queen of Continental Tourism”. PERIODS OF GREAT PROGRESS Vrnjačka Banja is today the most visited and attractive tourist destination in Serbia, with developed road, communal and tourist infrastructure, which ranks it among the municipalities of the first tourist category. Conditions have been created to make it competitive and attractive for both domestic and foreign guests, but also for investors, to open new hotels and new tourist offers, and to ensure that Banja will provide for its guests throughout the year a comprehensive experience, with unique diversity of amenities. In addition to all this, its authenticity and a large part of the natural environment are preserved, its parks

and green areas for which it is recognizable, its benefits, thanks to which it exists. This urban tourist place, like Karlovy Vary and Baden Baden, primarily thanks to its mineral water, has a special place on the continental tourist map of Europe. In its 150-year long history, Banja has had several very important periods. First of all, its very establishment as a tourist place, in Serbia under Obrenović dynasty, in the 19th century, is a step towards European values. Vrnjačka Banja has been shaped by these values, from the very beginning: capping mineral water springs, channeling the rivers, the first regulation plans, modeled on Austria, the Czech Republic, France. “The

 Snežnik spring

Photo: Milan Mitrović

Renaissance of Hotel Industry By improving the ambiance of Vrnjačka Banja, with large investments in infrastructure, improved marketing, Banja has become an attractive tourist destination for investment in the hotel industry. Hotels that had been closed for a long time, and in a very poor condition will, in this jubilee year, become five star hotels. Dozens of millions of euros will be invested in their numerous attractive tourist facilities, wellness and spa programs, indoor and outdoor swimming pools. And that was exactly what Vrnjačka Banja lacked most.




Founding Foundation Society of Sour Hot Water in Vrnjci”, founded by Pavle Mutavdžić in 1868, is the forerunner of the first tourist organizations in the Balkans. Another important period for this spa resort is the one between the two world wars, when medicine and health tourism were developing. Then, the 1970s are also significant, when the construction of large hotel complexes, sports courts and “Merkur” hospital began. That was the beginning of the cultural flourishing of the spa resort, which peaked in the mid-1980s, before the breakup of Yugoslavia. Vrnjačka Banja then had as much as two and a half million overnight stays per year. Certainly, the current period is also important, when large companies invest in modern hotels. There are “Zepter”, “Alko Group”, “South Bačka”, “Tonanti”, “Banja Ždrelo”... This year’s important jubilee, a century and a half of organized tourism, is a turning point in the further development of tourism of Vrnjačka Banja, and all of Serbia. MORE DIRECTIONS OF DEVELOPMENT In the past few years, a lot has been invested in Vrnjačka Banja in the beautification of parks, development of sports grounds, tens of kilometers of new roads,

Regional Sports Center With the completion of sports facilities, sports halls, National Water Polo Center, Volleyball Development Center and football courts, Vrnjačka Banja is becoming a regional center for the preparation of athletes. Numerous domestic and foreign national teams in different sport disciplines have long been present in the sports area of Vrnjačka Banja.



the busiest roads in the city center, traffic loops, the reconstruction of the Vrnjački amphitheater, development of Church Hill... The realization of strategically important projects is under way, which will considerably change the direction of development of Vrnjačka Banja in the future: the National Water Polo Center, the construction and renovation of five luxury hotels, construction of the Vrnjačka Terme and the most advanced spa centers, as well as the aqua park of Vrnjačka Banja. Today, most guests come from the South Slavic area, from Russia, Bulgaria, Romania. These guests come to the spa both for rest and for treatment, but also for entertainment. Top notch medicine, of the same and perhaps better quality than in Western Europe, with far lower prices, as well as high quality service, are some of the main assets in the penetration of the markets of Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries. Health tourism will always be a priority for the development of Vrnjačka Banja, but its uniqueness in relation to other spas is that it has several directions of development and that in the future it will increasingly develop as a place for young people, a place for recreation and sports. Vrnjačka Banja is the host to the largest and most visited events and festivals in Serbia, cultural events and congresses. An increasing number of young tourists coming to Vrnjačka Banja disprove the prejudice that spa is only a place for treatment. Banja is developing stronger connections connected with the mountain Goč, which is its jewel and still unused potential. In the future, this will open a huge space for improvement of tourism and will complete the winter season in Vrnjačka Banja. 





On the Road

to Oneself

Along with “Roštilјijada” and “Carnival”, tourist events for which Leskovac is marked on the tourist map of Serbia in capital liters, the people of Leskovac also have reasons to be proud of the historical sites and natural beauty. These have been drawing the attention of travel writers and chroniclers for centuries, such as Ami Bue, von Han, George Braun, Mita Rakić... And the most quoted of all from the second half of the 19th century, Felix Kanic, left his testimonies from here

By: Mirolјub Radivojević, Dragan Radović





 Holy Trinity Cathedral


elix Kanic traveled around Serbia several times, leaving precious records and drawings about fifteen district towns and over sixty municipalities. In his book Serbia, Country and Population, in volume one (1904) and two (1909), he published valuable data about the attractions of Leskovac and the surrounding area. We will start by following his footsteps, in order to lead you, along the same roads, to the sites marked long ago. “Three bridges connect the parts of the city through which the Veternica flows and in which the minarets and roofs of residences overlook the dark trees, reminding of the former rule of the Turks. Hisar, a 350 meters high hill with a castle on the left bank of the river would have much to say about this rule. Already in 1677, George Braun saw the castle there, which dominated the surrounding baroque plain...” The now developed banks of the Veternica are connected by seven bridges, and the traces of the Turks can be found only in two well-known monuments of Balkan architecture. One is the House of Šop-Đokić on Masarikov trg, built in the first half of the 19th century. (Where the Tourist Organization of Leskovac is located now.) The other is the House of Bora Dimitrijević Piksla, built in the middle of the 19th cen-


tury. It is now part of the exhibition of the National Museum and is a reconstruction of a town house from the late 19th century. It is a true archaeological platform, with traces from prehistory to this day. In addition to the spectacular panoramic view from the Hisar’s plateau, a smaller monument in the shape of an obelisk, erected in the honor of the Serbian “Unknown Hero” from 1915, should also be seen. It was later found that the “Unknown Hero” was actually Vladimir M. Lazarević, lieutenant of the Fifteenth Infantry Regiment from Aleksinac, who died a hero on 26 October 1915, defending Leskovac from Bulgaria. Stevan Jakovlјević described this battle in the Serbian Trilogy. CHARDAK AND KITCHEN In the center of the city, near the bridge drawn by Kanic, there is a monument to patriots killed for the fatherland in the period 1912-1918. On the monument there is a bronze figure of a Serbian soldier in full military equipment. The sculpture was modeled after a photograph of Aleksandar Simonović, sergeant of the Second Iron Regiment, who was the first to enter Leskovac in 1918. The author of the monument is Dragomir Arambašić And in the place where George Braun saw the castle, the Church of St. Elijah was erected. At its foot is a memorial park, designed by the architect Bogdan Bogdanović. “At the center of that part of the city, on the right bank, Shashit-pasha built fifty steps long ‘saray’, with its wings spread; in one wing were pasha’s women and maids, and the other was used as a guest house. In the long middle part that connected them, with a widely open summerhouse and large stairs on both sides, there were the premises of the court and administration. Decorated with authentically oriental painted friezes, garlands and so on, the saray still makes a good impression, although it is obvious that it has begun to deteriorate because today it serves as a depot for tobacco. The building was first bought by the districts of Vlasotinci and Leskovac, and in 1892 it was demolished and the building of the lower gymnasium was built in its place, for which money and building materials were collected already in 1889.”

There are numerous written testimonies about the beauty of Shashit-pasha’s residence. Only a few photos and a part of the beautiful ceiling made of rosewood, which is stored in the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, have been preserved. At the site of the demolished saray and Gymnasium, destroyed in the bombing of the Allies, a round multifunctional pavilion of the fair was built in the shape of a Serbian hat, a unique example in contemporary Serbian architecture. “When the Christian municipality of Leskovac, after a series of pleas and a substantial tip, succeeded to get a Sultan’s decree from Istanbul, allowing it to build a larger church, the city’s Albanian tyrants tried to prevent this with threats. Christians resorted to shrewdness and started building, claiming they were building a house for their priest. Thus, in the southernmost part of the Christian district, hidden among the trees, barely visible from the outside, the three-navel basilica of the Holy Virgin was built, without towers, dome or other decoration vis-

ible from a distance, but it had a chimney on the north side, which served, they say, to fool the Muslims and conceal the true purpose of the building. In 1839, the church, the length of which was not in any proportion to its height, was completely renovated. The only exterior monumental decoration consists of a wide porch with eighteen pillars on the west and south side. There are six steps leading down to a modest main entrance, above which is the painting of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God and a window

 Monument to the liberators Serbian army in front of Shashitpasha’s residence, 1882 Odžaklija church

Jašunja Monasteries “It is easier to imagine the Hungarian plain without a chardak than Serbian mountain without a monastery. Southwest of Kriva Bukva, at the spring of Jašunja, there are two. The upper is a female, dedicated to the Holy Mother of God, and its construction, according to the inscription, was completed in 1542 by Prioress Ksenija and three nuns. Only half an hour on foot to the south, St. John’s Monastery could originate from the same time. The inscriptions from the 1517 and 1553 mention sultans Soliman and Selim; however, these years do not correspond to the time of the reign of these sultans.” (Felix Kanic)




 Church of St. Petka in Rudar Hydroelectric Power Plant “Vučje” Memorial park

that was added later. Only through it and through the narrow recesses on the southern facade a little light comes into the interior space paved with large square bricks...” We could supplement this Kanic’s note with a series of data. For example, along the entire vault of the kitchen (odžaklija, as the locals call this church), the clay pots were built in the walls themselves, at a distance of one meter, with necks facing the inside of the church, which contributes to outstanding acoustics. The iconostasis and ciborium are made of boxwood. The iconostasis, according to the tradition, was made by Zafir (Zašma) Dimitrijević from Debar. The church bell tower, completed on 6 September 1879, has five bells. The church was destroyed in the flood in the 1960s, but it was restored in the 1990s. The Church of the Holy Trinity is also located in the port of this temple. It was

Sava of Hilandar The following data should also be noted: “On the George’s Day in Autumn 1881, Slavibor Brojer converted to Orthodox Christianity in the Church of St. Paraskeva in the village of Rudar near Leskovac.” And that is, in fact, Sava of Hilandar who organized the library in Hilandar and found Miroslav’s Gospel among the papers, pulling it away from oblivion.



built from 1922 to 1931. Aleksandar I Karađorđević, the King of Yugoslavia, attended its consecration. The building is lovely, colorful, yet monumental. It is a combination of the decorativeness of Moravian school, the highness of Kosovo-Metohija, with a few minor elements of elements from Raška embedded in a harmonious whole. The author of the project is Vasily Andresov. ROPE-MAKERS AND DUKES “In Leskovac there are more than 400 processors of cannabis and rope makers, three linen canvas weavers and three weavers. In every house and in front of it, in the suburbs of the city, the wheels are rattling. One feels as if he found himself in some huge rope factory...” “In Strojkovac, eleven kilometers from the town, I visited the first Serbian cable factory. Led by two Bulgarians from Kàrlovo, with quite a good machine drive, they mostly make blue and to a smaller extent red cables, in the same way that I encountered earlier in the Balkan towns of Kalofer, Trevni and others. Women are wave wool in winter, which later, through the dying factory of Stevan Dobre Bujdžov, a Bulgarian, who processes 200 kilos of indigo annually, goes to simple and very practical small rotary devices. Here and

in the branch of the cable factory, founded in 1889, in the neighboring Vučje, there are 24 employees working on 110 spindles.” Already Herodotus recorded that hemp was cultivated in these parts, and it is by no accident that the rope-making craft here, in fact, was the forerunner of the textile industry. Immediately after the Serbian-Turkish War, the entrepreneurial Leskovac traders decided to establish the first factory. They carried out their idea in 1884, when they built a cables factory in the village of Strojkovac. The factory was placed in several dilapidated buildings next to the watermill and it produced only the bestselling cables. In this way, the foundations were laid for the famous textile industry in Leskovac, and the factory itself is no transformed into the Museum of Textile Industry. “In place of the demolished tower with a high rampart, today is the house of a peasant, along which is the road to the gorge, which was first visited by Han in 1858. It is undoubtedly one of the most romantic gorges of the Serbian south, rich in natural beauty. Between the steep, high cliffs, beautiful slopes under the forest and fresh green meadows, the Vučanska River protrudes, running eighteen watermills and two rollers, and the collapses in countless cascades into the deep Dev-Kazan (Devil’s Caldron), surrounded by picturesque rocks... In contrast to this, the nearby ruins of the church re sacred; it was here that the great folk hero Nikola Skobalјić went to the liturgy went to the liturgy whenever he would go into the battle against the infidels... A little further to the southeast, the crystal clear Vučanska River forms a beautiful waterfall, collapsing from the protruding steep Ramni kamen on 1,034 meters high Kita. From Skobaljic’s church, a mountain path leads to the southwest to its ‘tower’... It has been proven historically that on 6 October 1454, near Vranjska Banja, he defeated the Turks, who were on coming from Novo Brdo, but soon after that, on November 28, he was defeated with his just as brave uncle on the Trepanjska River and executed...” AMBER SHIMMER “This road from Leskovac to Vranje was crossed 230 years ago by English doctor Edward Brown, the only researcher who was in the area of Gornja Veternica before me.

He called Veternica (he calls it Lepenica, i.e. ‘Lyperitza’) the Maesia meander, because, “in twelve hours of his journey, he had to cross this river ninety times. He says the following about the southern watercourse, ‘Clissura’, which he considers to be a slope of Hem: ‘Rocks and stones of this mountain looks like silver and under the sun of the Sun or the Moon it has shimmering and pleasant look, because it contains amber’.“ The small mountain river Vučjanka still flows through the crevices, rocks and cliffs of the mountain Kukavica, making beautiful canals, cascades and caves. There are several attractive bathing places in the few kilometers long canyon. In the very center of the canyon is one of the oldest hydroelectric power plants in the Balkans, built in 1903, which is still in operation today. It is one of 63 facilities in the world most important for technological development. On the slopes of the mountain Kukavica above Vučje, 18 kilometers south of Leskovac, there are the remains of a 15th century fortress in this area known as Skobljać Grad. It was built by Duke Nikola Skobaljić, defending the area of Dubočica from the Turks. On the site of the former Skobaljić’s church, a new Church of St. John the Forerunner was erected. It was built in 1935-1938, in the traditional Serbian style, and was painted by Petar Suhočev. The church was consecrated on St. John’s Day (July 7th) of 1938, which is evidenced by a documentary film preserved in Belgrade’s Film Archive. (...) And, there, looking at the past, we are paving the way for new journeys. We followed Felix Kanic and came to what is here today. To this everyday, Southern, our, warm and friendly. 

Photo: Mirolјub Radivojević and Archive of the Tourist Organization of Leskovac

The Monastery in Rudari “... The sky was blue, so in the best mood we took the old Roman road towards the monastery in south Rudari, in the lowlands of Kavgalija. It was populated already in the prehistoric age, which is probed by a part of spindle found in the village of Sinkovac, which remained on the right side behind us. On the right side, from the plain covered with green corn and cannabis, three huge elm trees stood high, with a fence indicated that it was one of the local sanctuaries. Soon we entered the fresh green thicket, from where the white walls of the Church of St. Petka appeared, renovated in 1799. This former monastery is a favorite picnic area of the people of Leskovac and now the center of the parish with two priests, which has fourteen villages.” (Felix Kanic) SERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018




Elegance of the Plain For decades, agriculture and agro-industry have been dominant in the local economy, but in recent years, tourism has increasingly emerged as an important potential to be leveraged. From cultural and historical sites to castles and summerhouses, from sport and fishing to the Iodine Spa, from the plain waters to the increased interest of investors




beautiful and friendly town in the center of the Serbian province of Vojvodina, on the right bank of the Tisa River, Bečej has been an ornament of these plains for nine hundred years. Tame, silently elegant, flexible and headstrong, harmoniously multinational (most Serbs and Hungarians are the vast majority), Bečej is the center of the municipality that also consists of Bačko Petrovo Selo, Bačko Gradište, Radičević and Mileševo. In the economy of Bečej, agriculture, industry and agro-industry have prevailed for decades, but in recent years tourism has increasingly been identified as an important potential to be leveraged. The heart of this city is its beautiful central square, completely renovated last year. It is adorned by two large temples, the Town Hall, the Endowment of Baroness Eufemija Jović... The Town Hall, today, the building of the Municipal Assembly of Bečej, was designed by Makai Endre in 1881 and was built by Klajn Šoti (Samuel Klajn). It was completed in 1884. The building of the Endowment of Baroness Eufemija Jović was built in 1894, in the spirit of secession, right next to the Town Hall. From 1902, these two buildings have formed a kind of ambient unite, bordering the square on its west side. The Great Orthodox Church of the Holy Martyr George was built from 1851 to 1858, in the style of late classicism, while the three towers – the symbol of the Holy Trinity – are influenced by Baroque. Inside the temple is one of the most beautiful iconostasis in the province. It was made in 1868 by Master Johan Kistner from Vienna, in the style of Baroque, and sixty nine icons, the work of the famous Serbian painter Uroš Predić, were created in the period 1889–1893. The Roman Catholic Church in Bečej, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, was erected in 1830, on the site of a church

from the 18th century. In the main altar of this temple there is the painting The Assumption of the Virgin, work of Mor Tan (19th century), a famous artist born in Bečej. His painting St. Joseph is also in the church. The center of Bečej is also adorned by buildings of the Technical School, City Theater, School of Economics, house of Bogdan Dunđerski, monument to King Peter I Karađorđević, building of the Gymnasium, and Catholic and Euphemia’s chapel. WELLS, WATER, CASTLES Among the trademarks of Bečej are the so-called Yellow Wells. These are artesian wells with mineral water from the category of sodium hydro-carbonate hypothermia. The yellow well “on Pogača” (central city square) is the oldest well of its kind in Bečej. It was built in 1904, and it was drilled by Karolј Šoš. In the following years, Šoš drilled wells on several other locations in the city, among other things, on his own estate, thus establishing the medicinal Iodine Spa in Bečej. According to local legend, a person who drinks “yellow water” will remain in Bečej forever. The Tisa River forms the eastern border of the Bečej municipality in a stretch of 23 kilometers. The Great Bačka Canal also runs through the municipality, for 22 kilometers, and empties in the Tisa at its slow-moving part south of Bečej. The River and Canal are connected by the lock called Schlais by the locals (the term has

The City of Sport Bečej has a long sports tradition, with important results in domestic and international competitions. The successes of the water polo club “Bečej”, which was once the best in Europe, are famous the construction of the Sports Center, which provides conditions for the preparation of top athletes and enables the city to host large competitions, also has a special place in the sports history of the town. SERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018



 Bečej Lock (Shleis)

remained from the German language). It was built in 1900 and designed by Heinz Alberto, director of the Canal project. Like the other ones on this route, the Schlais of Bečej was electrically driven, and power was generated by the hydroelectric power plant. It was one of the most advance solutions in Europe of that time. From the time when it was built, it attracted the attention of visitors and was a tourist attraction. The tourist complex “Fantast”, fourteen kilometers from Bečej towards Bačka Topola, is known far and wide. In its heart is the palace of the famous Serbian landowner from Vojvodina, Bogdan Dunđerski (1862-1943), built in the early 20th century. On the area of 65 hectares, next to the castle, there is a small castle, a famous horse barn, a beautiful park... The iconostasis in the chapel, built in the Neo-Byzantine style, was painted by Uroš Predić, who often stayed here, as a friend of Bogdan Dunđerski. Since the 1980s, the castle palace was turned into a hotel, and the name, given after the famous racing horse from 1930, remained. TIME OF INVESTMENT Since 2012, Bečej has been a municipality of investment. Local self-government is trying to invest in what directly improves the quality of life of local people, and it also improves the tourist offer.

Thermal Water In addition to the possibilities for development of hunting, fishing, nautical, excursion and sports tourism, the greatest unused value in the municipality of Bečej are the springs of thermal water. Except as an energy source (for heating the hotel “Bela lađa” and Sport Center “Mladost”, this water is also used for therapy in Iodine Spa.



Fishing About 4% of the area in the municipality of Bečej is made up of watercourses. Fourteen percent of Tisa’s length runs through this municipality. This river and the Great Bačka Canal have as many as twenty two species of fish from seven families (mostly from carp and perch families). Fishermen, who come here in large numbers, are particularly attracted to catfish and pike.

The central square in Bečej was completely renovated last year, and the completion of the works was celebrated with the “Bečej at Night” Festival, on June 17th. “Plavi orkestar”, “Van Gog”, “Anna & The Barbies”, “Malјčiki”, the crew of “Državni posao” and others performed before more than ten thousand people. Light effects and video production were remarkable. During the Festival, a memorial plaque for the musician Vlada Divljan (1958-2015) was unveiled in the City Theater. The audience enthusiasm was exceptional, and this event is expected to grow into a traditional one. The municipality of Bečej, in cooperation with the provincial and state authorities, renewed the building of the Gerontology Center and the building of the Primary School “Zdravko Gložanski”. Reconstruction of the road infrastructure was the priority for investments. Zmaj Jovina Street, roundabout and roads in the settlement of Little Bosnia were completely reconstructed. Better conditions have been provided for the arrival of domestic and foreign investors and for the creation of new jobs. A lot has been invested in the industrial zone, which is now has fully built infrastructure. In Bečej, they are convinced that great changes will be recognized by significant investors. 

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Adorned with Whiteness

“Miss Kopaonik” pageant, an evening of authentic folk art, interesting workshops, ethno fashion day, “Kopaonik Folk Party”... A number of nice unpretentious programs, colors and melodies, a lot of cheerfulness and authenticity, marked this year’s “Magic”. And everybody felt this modern ethno again


his year again, on the last weekend in January, for the third time, an interesting event called “Winter Magic 2018” was held in Brzeće. A lot of nice unpretentious programs, colors and melodies, a lot of cheerfulness and authenticity, marked this year’s gathering. On the first day of the two-day event, a picturesque ethno-evening took place, and the show entitled “Kopaonik Folk Party” was filmed with the participation of over a hundred performers from all over Serbia. The program began with the song



“Small Houses Painted White”, the newly established anthem of the Folk Party. The participants were ethno band “Brus”, cultural and artistic societies “Brvenica” from Raška, “Đoka Pavlović” from Belgrade, “Third Age” from Kosjerić, singing groups “Sretenjske zore” from Ranilovići (the municipality of Aranđelovac), “Lazarice” from Kruševac, “The Nightingale” from Sevojno, “The Sounds of Kadinjača” from Zaglavak, folklore ensemble “Dankovo” from Paraćin, gusle player Vukomir Šćekić from Bijelo Polje, windpipe player Tomislav Đurin

from Zrenjanin, singer of Vlach songs Tanja Bošković from Petrovac na Mlavi, toast giver Dragiša Simić from Mionica... Ethno-fashion show by Dragana Mija­ tović Petrović, a designer from Kruševac, also attracted public attention. A book of folk toasts To Your Health, the Serb, My Pride, edited by Dragiša Simić was also presented. We also saw an exhibition of folk handicrafts, exhibition of ethno food and drinks, tasting of wines from Župa (“Živković” Winery from Tržac took care of that. On the second day, participants of the “Magic” embraced the whiteness. Riding the cable car to Pančić’s Peak (2,017 meters) and sightseeing of the beauties of Kopaonik were enabled by the “Ski Resorts of Serbia”. A cocktail was also organized at a local restaurant. The central event of the evening was the pageant “Queen of the Snow”, for the election of Miss of Kopaonik. The experienced jury, they say, did not have an easy task. The title of “Queen of the Snow 2018” went to Sandra Đuričić from Kraljevo, first runner-up was Marijana Stojković from

Support The event was supported, among others, by the Auto-Moto Association of Serbia (Kruševac branch), “Mačkov podrum” from Irig, Hladnjača “Kopyfood” from Budilovina, “Dobrodolac” Inn and Villa “Ivanović” from Brzeća, ethno houses “Grange 137” from Kopaonik, “Klјunac” from Brzeća, “Jastrebačka priča” from Belgrade... Media sponsors were the RTV Brus and “Kanal 25”, as well as portals “Brus onlajn” and “Turistički svet”.

Belgrade, and second runner-up Melisa Melić from Belgrade. “Top model” title went to Anđela Jovanović from Topola, “The Face of the Year” to Marina Gavrilović from Bajina Bašta, “Miss Charm” to Marija Čitaković from Lazarevac, “Miss Media” Milica Đorđević from Rača. All this was spiced up by Era Ojdanić, Mirko Lazić and band “Fleš”. The organizers of this event were the Tourist Organization of the Municipality of Brus and “Favorit” Agency, and the executive producer was Goran Kovačević. Partners of the event were the Municipality of Brus, apart-hotel “Kopaonik” from Brzeće and travel agency “Stella Maris” from Belgrade. 







Walking with Confidence

Despite the great increase in competition in Vrnjačka Banja, “Merkur” had a record number of guests. In the first forty-five days of this year, there were 16,799 overnight stays, which is 48 percent more than in the same period of 2017. Well thought-through change in patterns of providing services and continuous modernization, along with the loyalty to own principles of value, make “Merkur’s” path to the future stable and bright


hether the reason for coming to Vrnjačka Banja is to care for health and the need for topnotch medical services, or vacation, recreation and use of preventive wellness and spa programs – “Merkur” has proven its leadership position. As the only one that uses the natural wealth of Vrnjačka Banja – mineral water – “Merkur” was the first choice for those who spent their holiday in the “Queen of Spa Tourism”.

– Last year was one of the most successful in for “Merkur’s” business. We had over 200,000 overnight stays, which is a record number in the last fifteen years. We managed to overcome the financial crisis and again to come to the level where we can make our patients and guests happy – said Dr. Dejan Stanojević, Director of “Merkur”. Although Vrnjačka Banja has becoming the most attractive tourist zone of Serbia because it is building, renovating or openSERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018



ing dozens of new hotels with highly competitive offer (from three to five stars), the number of guests in the medical and spa complex “Merkur” at the beginning of 2018 is a record number, Miodrag Milјković, Marketing Manager, tells us. Last year brought new investments in the hotel industry in Vrnjačka Banja – the establishments “Borjak”, “Fontana” and “Zvezda” were renovated, while three new hotels are being built at the same time (“Slatina”, “Park” and “Slavija”). The spa offer is, therefore, being increasingly diver“Merkur”, sified. Nevertheless, the guests have kept Vrnjačka Banja (+381 36) 515 515 0, the traditional concept and the reason for coming to the spa – which is care for

Change of Patterns For years people thought that spa is a favorite place for rest of the third generation, but the situation is changing. Change forms. An increasing number of young people and families use their free time to enjoy the beauty of the preventative wellness and spa programs with mineral water, in addition to walking in the park, excursions and other supplemental activities.



health and beauty. The number of guests in “Merkur”, as the leader in health and wellness tourism of Vrnjačka Banja, proves this. Mineral water, which is the backbone of the concept of spa tourism here, in “Merkur”, the central facility of Vrnjačka Banja, is included in the health programs, but it is also part of the recreational and spa facilities as preventive programs. All swimming pools in “Merkur” are filled with mineral water, the bubbling of which has a relaxing effect, and the water temperature provides heat and restores energy during winter time. The tourist offer of Vrnjačka Banja levels those of the biggest cities in Serbia, its diversity cannot lead to boredom and saturation. Most spa amenities are actually here to help you rest, improve your health, provide the necessary relaxation and revival. This healing place, with its thought-through and rich offer, with its unobtrusive beauty and a multitude of details, has earned the trust of many. That is why they return to Vrnjačka Banja, again and again. 



Clear Directions of Progress

Following the trends in the development of modern society, economy and markets, this college of vocational studies has accredited a number of new programs, from the area of high technology, through public administration, to tourism. The study program for training managers in tourism has brought great results and new quality in vocational education in Serbia. Internships in tourist organizations and the economy are especially important in this




elgrade Business School is an educational institution that, following the domestic and global trends from multidisciplinary scientific fields of information and economics, promotes the concept of applied studies, building exactly those skills and abilities among students that are required by a modern society. Keeping in step with time, progress and modern technologies, and in accordance with the needs of the domestic and European labor market, Belgrade Business School itself has been constantly developing in every respect. As an internationally recognized place for acquiring knowledge, the School implements a dual education system, promotes hands-on experience through internships, modernizing and adapting study programs to the dynamic needs of the society and the labor market. Through the continuous

education of young people, promoting their entrepreneurial abilities and acquiring theoretical and practical knowledge and experience, the School has been implementing its mission and improving the system of vocational education in Serbia for years. Belgrade Business School follows local and global trends in education and multidisciplinary science fields, building exactly those skills and abilities among students that are required by a modern society. As one of the largest institutions of higher vocational education in Serbia, the School organizes classes in seven accredited programs of basic vocational studies: Information Systems and Technologies; Management; Finances, Accounting and Banking; Marketing and Trade; Taxes and Customs; Public Administration and Tourism Management. Striving for continuous improvement of quality, the school management, led by

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K N O W L E D G E Professor Đuro Đurović, who became the director in 2014, has been making additional efforts to improve the structure of all study programs, both in undergraduate and specialist studies, and as of this year also on master studies. MODERN TRENDS, NEW PROGRAMS Taking into account the fact that in today’s era, in the era of globalization, the internet and modern technologies, the needs for specialist in the field of information technology are increasing, BBS has accredited a new study program: Information Systems and Technologies. With this, it has shown that it follows the state policy in the field of education, enabling young people to get theoretical and practical education for specific work in the field of information systems and technologies, as the most perspective sector in Serbia. Upon graduation from this program, the students are qualified to apply modern knowledge in the field of computer and information science, which gives them the opportunity to be hired and employed in the IT sector, as well as further education and training, both in Serbia and abroad. In an effort to harmonize study programs with the demands of the society and modern trends in education, the School has also accredited two new study programs in specialist studies: Accounting, Control and Auditing and Public Administration, Tax and Customs System. These two specialist programs are harmonized with the dynamic needs of society and the labor market, and constitute a novelty that is necessary in vocational education of Serbia. The result is the fact that BBS is designed so as to enable students to acquire quality knowledge necessary for managing modern processes in the state administration, economic, financial and other organizations; to develop the ability of analytical thinking, critical approach, using modern methods and techniques in business decision-making.

Internship Through engagement of members of the council of this study program and with selfless help of other colleagues, BBS students were given the opportunity for internships at the Tourist Organization of Serbia, Tourist Organization of Belgrade, “Planinci AD” (Kuršumlija), Belgrade hotels “88 rooms”, “Contact”, “Holiday Inn”...



Belgrade Business School has a clear vision of its role in improving the system of vocational education in Serbia, as well as its strategic orientation towards the needs of the society and contemporary trends in education. In accordance with this, the School has accredited the study program of Master Vocational Studies: Business Economics (300 ECTS credits) and in 2017/2018 school year enrolled its first generation of master students who will, after completing Master vocational studies, earn the title of Master Vocational Economist. BBS, as the most advance of this type, also stands out for its development of in-

ternational cooperation and best organized internship. – Learning through practice is a way to success for students and future young business people – emphasizes Professor Đuro Đurović, Director of the School. We strive to educate the most capable people, those who are the best prepared for the labor market. The precondition for this is successful implementation of the entire whole teaching process, as well as provision of as many extracurricular activities as possible for students, so that they develop additional skills and acquire practical knowledge in various fields, and thus competitiveness in the European labor market.

As a confirmation of quality, on 16 April 2017, Belgrade Business School received a certificate confirming that the quality management system was evaluated and that it meets the requirements of the international standard ISO 9001: 2008. The school certified its QMS for higher education in undergraduate and specialist vocational studies in the field of business knowledge and skills. BREAKTHROUGH IN TOURISM In 2014, Belgrade Business School accredited two new study programs: Public Administration and Tourism Management. SERBIA  SPECIAL EDITION  2018


 Lecture by Professor Đuro Đurović, director of Belgrade Business School

K N O W L E D G E Bearing in mind the importance of tourism in the development and positioning of a country, in South Slavic areas there is a small number of higher education institutions that educate experts in this field. Thus, BBS is particularly proud of the fact that every year it enrolls a new generation of future professional managers in the field of tourism. The study program Tourism Management is specific for the education of experts according to the needs of the contemporary environment, with continuous organizational and methodological improvement. The realization of teaching in this study program takes place through interdisciplinary education and continuous intertwining of theoretical and practical classes, enabling students to perform specific duties and tasks. The basis of the educational process in this referential field is connecting theory and practice and the development of analytical thinking, which is achieved through organizing public lectures, workshops, trainings, courses, simulation of case studies, as well as through practical projects in cooperation with numerous companies in Serbia and the region. Public lectures are held in various areas that students study, in order to improve the teaching process and transfer experience from practice, as a strategy for improving dual education. We should particularly emphasize the importance and significance of public lectures, because guest lecturers are distin-

The Best Guest Lecturers According to the students’ assessment from a conducted survey, the best and most useful external public lecturers in the field of tourism were: Miodrag Popović (Tourist Organization of Belgrade), Olgica Milјković (Tourist Organization of Serbia) Dragan Todorović (hotel “Izvor”, Aranđelovac), visiting professor Jasmina Madžgalј (City Secretariat for Environmental Protection of Belgrade), Miona Milić (the role of congress tourism in modern business), Slaviša Jovanović (medical tourism), Ljilјana Jevremović (hotel “Crowne Plaza”, Belgrade), Ana Petrović (private travel agency, personal experiences).



guished people from the public and private sector in Serbia, as well as from the region, Europe and the world. On this occasion, students with this major, as well as interested external participants, gather in one place, ask questions and exchange experiences with lecturers, which enables them to get information that is not generally available, which is different and can give them advantage in the process of finding jobs. READINESS FOR THE LABOR MARKET A series of public lectures and workshops testify on connecting theoretical knowledge and practical experience of significant people from the world of business and profession, which contributes to the competitiveness of BBS students in the labor market. In the realization of the curriculum at the study program Tourism Management, particularly important are internships in travel agencies, TOB, TOS, and a large number of luxury hotels and spas of Serbia. In addition to knowledge in the field of tourism, students also have a number of courses and trainings that will be useful for them throughout their career. They study English and German languages, with the possibility to select Spanish as an elective course. Through good cooperation with the Tourist Organization of Serbia, engagement and useful experience were provided for three students, through work at the Belgrade Tourism Fair stand last year. In Belgrade’s hotel “88 Rooms”, thanks to their overall positive impression of BBS, one student from this major permanently employed. Three BBS students currently doing internship at the Belgrade’s hotel “Contact” have shown a high level of knowledge, interest and responsibility, and there is a good chance that they will find jobs as well. In order to develop and improve the structure of this still young study program, Belgrade Business School will continue to cooperate with institutions and individuals in the field of tourism. 

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