Serbia has connected West with East for centuries – a land in which civilisations, cultures, faiths, climates and landscapes meet and mingle.
It is located in the centre of the Balkan Peninsula, in southeastern Europe. The northern portion belongs to central Europe, but in terms of geography and climate it is also partly a Mediterranean country. Serbia is landlocked but as a Danube country it is connected to distant seas and oceans. Serbia is a crossroads of Europe and a geopolitically important territory. The international roads and railway lines, which run through the country’s river valleys, form the shortest link between Western Europe and the Middle East.
Many times during its rich, centuries-long history, Serbia has been at the centre of Europe’s and the world’s attention, out of all proportion to its modest size, economic might and number of inhabitants. Many lessons on bravery, patriotism and the struggle for freedom can be learned wherever you turn in Serbia, as you pass through its cities and regions.
The cultural and historical heritage of Serbia begins with prehistoric archaeological sites and its legacy from classical antiquity. Perhaps its greatest riches, though, are in the many mediaeval Serbian churches and monasteries, some of which are included on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Today, Serbia is a modern, democratic European country, on the path to membership of the European Union, which a diverse range of visitors – from young backpackers to participants in congresses and fairs – visit every day.
Belgrade (Beograd) is the capital of Serbia, having about 1,6 million inhabitants. It is located in the south-east of Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula, at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe and since ancient times it has been an important traffic focal point, an intersection of the roads of Eastern and Western Europe.
Novi Sad, the capital of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina lies on the Danube. Some of its parts date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and boast several well-preserved old churches and other public buildings. The city also boasts various interesting museums and art galleries. However, its undoubtedly most important monumental complex is the Petrovaradin Fortress on the right bank of the Danube. The first records about a fortress at its present site date back to the Roman times. Records show that is has been worked on the 13th century, while it obtained its present appearance in the 18th century largely.
Within the city boundaries itself stands the Nis Fortress, which ranks among the most beautiful and best preserved fortresses in the Balkans, build in late 17th century. At the outskirts of Nis is a unique monument – the Skull Tower (Cele kula) built by the Turks from the skulls and heads of the Serb warriors who died in the battle of Cegar in 1809, led by Karadjordje, a prince and hero of the I Serb Uprising against the Turks. After the Turkish victory, this battle was decisive for the failure of the I Serb Uprising.
The Djerdap National Park embraces part of the area of the Djerdap Canyon known as the Iron Gates in the central part of the Danube river course, and is divided by the international border running along the middle of the river into the southern – Yugoslav and the northern – Rumanian part. The Djerdap Canyon is the longest fissure in Europe and a rare natural phenomenon. In spite of such a turbulent history, picturesque folk customs and traditional village life have been preserved as evidence of uninterrupted life in this region from pagan times to the present day.
Once the second largest city of Serbia (1919), contemporary Subotica is the second largest city of the Vojvodina region following Novi Sad, with a population of 99,471 (according to the 2002 census). Likewise, today it is Serbia’s fifth largest city, with the municipality of Subotica numbering 147,758 people. It is the administrative centre of the North Bačka District.
Sirmium is one of the most important cities in the late Roman Empire, located on the banks of the Sava River on the territory today called Sremska Mitrovica. Founded in the first century, Sirmium lived its peak in the year 294, when it was named as one of the four capitals of the Roman Empire.
Palic Lake and the village with the same name, is located 8 kilometers east of Subotica. It always offers something new and unique. Extraordinary objects from the early 20th century (Water Tower, Grand Terrace, Women’s strand and Music Pavilion), a beautiful park, known for the lake as well as peace and quietness make Palić ideal place for relaxation and enjoyment.
Golubac Fortress has had a tumultuous history. Prior to its construction it was the site of a Roman settlement. During the Middle Ages, it became the object of many battles, especially between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. It changed hands repeatedly, passing between Turks, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Serbs, and Austrians, until 1867, when it was turned over to the Serbian Prince Mihailo Obrenovic III. Now, it is a popular tourist attraction in the region and a point on Danube sightseeing boat tours.
Viminacium was the main city of the Roman province of Moesia (today’s Serbia), and the capital of Moesia Superior. Viminacium was the base camp of Legio VII Claudia, and hosted for some time of the IV Flavia Felix. It was destroyed by the barbarian invaders.
Lepenski Vir is an important Mesolithic archaeological site located in Serbia in the central Balkan peninsula. It consists of one large settlement with around ten satellite villages. The evidence suggests the first human presence in the locality around 7000 BC with the culture reaching its peak between 5300 BC and 4800 BC. Numerous piscine sculptures and peculiar architecture are testimony to a rich social and religious life led by the inhabitants and the high cultural level of these early Europeans.
The Late Roman fortified palace compound and memorial complex of Gamzigrad-Romuliana, Palace of Galerius, in the east of Serbia, was commissioned by Emperor Caius Valerius Galerius Maximianus, in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries. It was known as Felix Romuliana, named after the emperor’s mother. The site consists of fortifications, the palace in the north-western part of the complex, basilicas, temples, hot baths, memorial complex, and a tetrapylon. The group of buildings is also unique in its intertwining of ceremonial and memorial functions.
The Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul Commonly Known as Church of St. Peter or simply Peter’s Church is a Serbian Orthodox church, the oldest intact church in Serbia and one of the oldest ones in the region, situated on a hill of Ras, the medieval capital of the Serbian Grand Principality (Rascia), near Novi Pazar, Serbia. It is part of the Stari Ras complex, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded in the 4th century during Roman rule, while additions were made in the 7th and 9th centuries, after which it served as the ecclessiastical seat of the Serbian church, and as the baptismal church and state council site of the Nemanjić dynasty, Until the last years of the 12th century. It is dedicated to Saint Peter and Paul.
Sopocani Monastery, the foundation of St. King Urosh I was built in the second half of the 13th century. The monastery church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. In the Middle Ages it was a thriving monastery with more than a hundred monks. The monastic compound is still encircled by a thick wall. The church also served as a royal mausoleum. After the battle of Kosovo Sopocani monastery was burned by Turks. Even the church was seriously damaged. Reconstruction ensued many times, in 1689 Turks burned the monastery once again and it remained deserted until the1960s. After a period of 30 years when the monastery served as a convent it was renewed in 1996 by Bishop Artemy who brought a young brotherhood to Sopocani. This new brotherhood is now actively working on reconstruction and the spiritual rebirth of this important medieval shrine.