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There is history to be found all over Serbia, but cities don’t come much more important than the medieval capital of Kruševac. There is more than just history waiting to be discovered in the city’s surroundings, however, with plenty of nature and wine (delicious, delicious wine) also hanging around.
Less than 300 people live in the tiny village of Ribarska Banja, but it isn’t famous as a place of residency anyway. It is home to yet another fine Serbian spa, one that comes complete with healing waters and buckets of tranquility. As popular for recreational reasons as it is medicinal, Ribarsksa Banja is just 30km away from Kruševac and represents a chance to get away from the development and chaos of the bigger city. The idyllic location within lush vegetation isn’t bad either.
Just 20km or so away from Kruševac, Jastrebac is the most densely forested mountain in this part of the world. This is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the city, with mountain walkers of all skills descending on the big hill in an attempt to scale the 1,491 metres up to the Velika Đulica peak. There is also plenty of mountain biking available, making this a must-visit for adrenaline junkies, although do keep your eyes peeled for the various beasts that roam the forests.
Another stunning 14th-century Serbian monastery, Ljubostinja comes with a little bit of added romance. It may be the stuff of legend, but it was here that Princess Milica met and fell in love with her future husband, Prince Lazar. The monastery’s moniker continues the theme, essentially translating as ‘the place of love’, and this famous spot has been the location for some of the most gorgeous prose in the long history of Serbian poetry. About fifty nuns preserve the monastery today, but love is well and truly (well, kind of) in the air.
Serbia is a surprising country at the best of times, and just 14km from Kruševac sits the capital of stone cutting in this part of the world. Bela Voda is famous for a variety of reasons, but carving and sculpture are undoubtedly the main ones. The Museum of Carving and Sculpture is a fascinating look at this historic art, as is the Park of Sculptures. The Great Drinking Fountain is also nearby, offering refreshment to those exhausted by stone and sandstone.
Continuing the theme of romance alluded to back at Ljubostinja, the most romantic village in the Balkans is less than an hour’s drive away from the famous city of Kruševac. We’re talking of course about Vrnjačka Banja. Those two words might not ring any bells, but most readers will be all too familiar with the love lock craze that has swept over the planet. That fad got its start in the town of Vrnjačka Banja over a century ago as World War I ripped the Balkans apart. The famous Bridge of Love still stands today, although the weight of a thousand padlocks may soon become too much.