Kozara Monumental park the circle composed of magnificent high pillars symbolizing an eternal human struggle for the light of freedom while the Memorial wall containing the names of more than 9000 killed people during one the longest battle in the WW 2 in Bosnia and Herzegovina were more than a learning experience for us all. The surrounding greenery overshadowed by huge fir and oak trees hiding some of the old armored vehicles of the then battles – was an image to remember.
The Kozara Museum nearby keeps the exhibits and photos from the battleground while the documents, letters, uniforms, letters and flags displayed are an evidence of harsh war times, tough people and difficult decisions they had to make. We felt as if visiting a history classroom in which each and every exhibit has its own story.
Memorial House of Mladen Stojanovic, the local physician, poet and a sportsman from Prijedor, whose family was a well off, advanced and widely recognized in the local community, joined the Partisan movement as early as in 1940. The rest of the his short life belongs to history. He was killed on March 5th, 1942 by the Chetniks while recovering in a field hospital. Mladen Stojanovic remains as one of the most celebrated WWII heroes in Bosnia who led some 3000 partizans and 60.000 local civilians through a legendary battle and immense sufferings of the resistance movement and people of Kozara.
Our next stop was at Sremski Front Memorial Park.
Memorial Park Sremski Front is located near municipality Šid in the province of Vojvodina, Serbia. This monumental Memorial complex all in red bricks, long alleys (Alleys of Honour) lined with trees and stones ending with the museum, fits perfectly into the lowland landscape of the Pannonian plane. The monument is dedicated to the last and one of the largest front operations on the territory of Yugoslavia in WW2, which took place between October 1944 and April 1945., as the final battle just one month before the liberation. This battle is also known as the biggest one engaging more than 200.000 soldiers and almost 30.000 mostly young people killed. There are 15,500 plaques with the names of those who fell in this plain in the Sremski Front, while the memorial park covers an area of 28 hectares with a Museum in its central part.
Sava Šumanović Gallery
Our must stop in the town Šid was this magic gallery revealing one of the most important 20th century painting heritage in Serbia: the pioneer of modern trends, Sava Šumanović, spent his youth, but also his last days of his life in this charming town in Vojvodina.
Today's gallery - the house and the complete repertoire - are a gift from the painter's mother. It is one of the most respected galleries of post cubism and late constructivism in today's Serbia. It was founded in 1952 and contains not only 417 works by this extremely talented artist, but also a lot of his painting material, as well as unfinished works. Some of the most famous are the pinnacle of modern art in Serbia: "Breakfast on Grass", "Bathers" and "Drunken Boat".
According to the reports, 28 August 1942 Sava Šumanović was arrested and taken to Sremska Mitrovica along with 120 locals where they were executed by pro-fascist collaborators. That was how the life of one of the greatest Serbian painters of all time tragically ended.
Museum of Naive Art ILIJANUM
Our next must stop in Sid was another small hidden museum named after the local painter of naive art, Ilija Bašičević - Bosilj (1895–1972). This painter spent almost his entire life in Šid, engaged in agriculture and livestock. During the Second World War, he lived in Vienna with his two sons, where he got infected with tuberculosis. After the war, the family was left without land. The loss of land, as well as impaired health, lead to the creation of his first painting - House saints Cosmas and Damian.
At the Third Trienniale of Naive Art in Bratislava in 1972, Ilija was posthumously awarded the recognition of the international jury for his achievements in the field of naive art.
We also found that the Raw vision magazine, otherwise the winner of the UNESCO award for the world's best magazine dedicated to art, included Ilija Bašičević Bosilj in the 50 leading artists of the so-called OUTSIDER ART.
Monastery Privina Glava at Fruska Gora National park
This unique and tamed mountain of Vojvodina region literally rises from the plain. Mild slopes, forests, famous vineyards and orchards are just some of its natural treasures. This is the place where the largest linden forest in Europe grows, and the park contains rare mushrooms, orchids, birds and game. The slopes of Fruška gora have been planted with vines since Roman times. This tradition has been preserved, so that local wines are today a respected national brand. Spacious orchards under peaches, apricots and apples are another part of the landscape of Fruška gora slopes.
We could spot from the distance and here it is: one of the seventeen monasteries on the Fruska gora, certainly one of the oldest and the biggest ones – Privina glava. Legends say that its name has to do with the beaten heads of the builders who wanted run away from the site, but another source comes from a 12th century documents about despot Jovan Brankovic who built this pray site to keep the so called Munich psalter. The buildings and the brick walls encircling the main church and the huge bell look impressive in the sunset. Tranquility of the religious place and a cultural heritage from the medieval times were the reason for all of us to stop and reflect.
MOROVIC Hunting ground
Just some 15 km from the monastery Privina Glava, along the road lined with oak trees turning gradually into a thick forest hiding the Morovic Hunting ground known for at least three things from its past and present worth to remember: this was the place where Tito, the president of the former Yugoslavia, used to spent some of his leisure time, this is the place for hunting the wild boars and this is the place for horse riding. The “Roe Deer” Villa built for Tito, but too late for him stay there, the restaurant “Kosuta” with the terrace overlooking the bungalows are ideally located on the green meadows and in the forest surrounded by three rivers – Danube, Sava and Bosut. One can hear the silence of the past and reminiscence of the late seventies while visiting the presidential suites and conference rooms. Hiking, bird watching, horse riding or sightseeing on the horse ridden carriage that the visitors, especially those who do not like hunting, can enjoy.
The wild boar stew and wild boar roast served in the restaurant “Kosuta” were, according to many in our group, the best dish of the Pilot Tour.
Village Erdevik – on the wine tasting route
ERDEVIK VILLAGE some 17 km from Sid, on the slopes of Fruška gora, surrounded with three beautiful lakes worth to explore (Bruje, Moharac, Sot) ideal for swimming, fishing, camping, hiking . Erdevik is known for its multicultural tradition and ethnically diverse local population living in harmony, rich orchards, great wine production with numerous small wineries, excellent for organizing a thematic wine tour. Rural tourism, organization of annual fairs of traditional agricultural products, (including especially the Sremski kulen, ham, sausages, local cheese, honey, ), hospitality of hard working farmers made this site along our tour an exceptional experience.
Finally, not to forget the breakfast table prepared by our landlady Keti, from which it was difficult to depart, particularly because of so tasteful ham, sausages, kulen, homemade bread, butter and jam, and certainly our favourite omelet with zucchini.
After four ours drive from Šid, our next stop was at Kadinjača, the magnificent memorial complex on the hillside located 14 km west from Užice – a town in central Serbia, that was built in 1979 in memory of the Workers' Battalion, resistance movement and the first liberated zone in the then occupied country – the famous story of Užička republika which lasted 67 days. The free territory was overpowered by enemy forces on November 29, 1941. In early 1941, after Nazi occupation, Užice was liberated by the Yugoslav Partisans, who chose it as the capital of the Republic of Užice. This republic was a short-lived mini-state whose primary aim was to organise the social and economic life of the local population. It comprised most of western Serbia, with a population of more than 300,000 people. In November 1941, the German army re-occupied this territory, and the majority of Partisan units were forced to Bosnia-Sandžak and Montenegro.
We visited the Museum, where a large number of exhibits is dedicated to Užička Republika displayed intended for the reception of visitors in order to provide information about the monument and the battle of Kadinjača. In the same building, there is a permanent exhibition "Workers' Battalion and the Fight on Kadinjača" in an area of about 150 m, with over 300 exhibits. These items were owned by members of the Workers' Battalion - personal documents, photographs, weapons. The memorial complex includes the amphitheater of the Republic of Užice, the alley of the Workers' Battalion and the Freedom Plateau.
THE MEDIEVAL FORTRESS
The remains of the fortress, also known as Old town of Užice lie on a rocky ridge, which almost divides the riverbed of Đetinja at the place where it flows out of the gorge and flows into a gentle valley. The fortification was built on a high, relatively inaccessible, ridge that is surrounded on three sides by the river. To the west, south and east, vertical cliffs, up to 50 m high, descend to the river like strong natural ramparts. Access to the city was possible only from the north. From the fortification, the road connecting Bosnia with Serbia could be monitored and defended. For centuries, the city's position has aroused the admiration of travelers passing by its ramparts.
The first reliable historical sources about the Užice fortress date from the middle of the 14th century. At that time, it was in the possession of the noble family Vojinović. The fortress was demolished several times and re-fortified. It was finally disabled as a military facility and destroyed in January 1863, at the time of the expulsion of the Turks from the city.
HYDROELECTRIC POWER PLANT ON RIVER ĐETINJA
Impressive view from the bridge over Djetinja we had on the hydroelectric power plant located below the fortress or Old Town of Užice and is one of the most important symbols of the city. It is the first power plant built according to Tesla's principles of polyphase currents in Europe and the second in the world, only five years after the construction of the same one on the Niagara River in America.
The cornerstone for the construction of the hydroelectric power plant on Đetinja river was laid by King Aleksandar Obrenović, in 1899., while the works on the installation of equipment in the power plant and the largest part of the electrical network in the city were completed at the end of July 1900. The power plant was ceremoniously put into operation on August 2, on His Majesty's birthday. That evening, the citizens enjoyed "the sea of light in which the city bathed".
Village ZLAKUSA and ethno park Terzića avlija
This is a village that has a soul and color, tradition and youth. It attracts with clean air, preserved nature, forests housing delicious mushrooms, meadows full of berries and medicinal herbs, with about fifteen fishponds with trout along the river Pećnica.
Zlakusa is well known as the village of potters, because a large number of households are engaged in this traditional craft. In the village itself, at any time of the year, you can buy Zlakusa earthenware, which is famous for its quality. And not only buy, but also see on the spot how the dishes are made of clay mixed with a binder material of ground calcite.
The village is also known for its interesting manifestations. In August, the Ethno Park "Terzića avlija" hosts the Festival of Original Creativity, known as "Zlakusa in song and dance". In autumn, when the forests get a golden color and the orchards are full of red apples, a cultural and artistic event, a pottery and art colony. It was exactly here in Terzica avlija where we had the best ever domestic coffee (known also as Turkish coffee) with icy cold fresh water from the nearby springs and certainly the sweet delight.
Here one can enjoy walking along the marked circular path around Zlakusa, which starts from the Ethno Park "Terzića avlije", and connects ponds, old mills and a couple of beautiful waterfalls on the river Pećnica and Potpećka cave. A path through beautiful landscapes, meadows and forests descends from another side of the village to the starting point.
Then we moved on towards the cave not far from the village of Zlakusa located in the neighboring village called Potpeć, 14 km from Užice and its entrance looks indeed as one of the monumental pieces of nature’ arts. A giant horseshoe-shaped portal, 50 m high and 12 m wide at the bottom, or 22 m at the top, is the highest cave entrance in Serbia. We bravely climbed up its carved limestone cliff, the vertical part of which is 72 m high. The researched and arranged length for visitors is 555 m. The entrance-ascend path has over 700 steps, but the view inside is worth every step upwards. The images, the figures we saw really impressive, not to mention the air full of oxygen with the effects of hyperbaric chamber, and the best fried trout and plum strudel served in the restaurant at the foot of the cave entrance.
KREMNA VILLAGE and the famous Serbian prophets
Kremna is a strange and mysterious village in western Serbia. It is located at an ideal altitude for an air spa (800 m) surrounded by a pine forest that does not allow fog to peek into the Kreman field. The space of the mysterious stone on which Kremna lays for a long time could not be filmed even from satellites and planes.
We heard the story of the two prophets Miloš and Mitar Tarabić, who had the power to foresee the new times in the 19th century, weaved their visions into our cultural heritage. In the village there is also the Memorial Home of the Kremna Prophets, to which many curious people flock. These wise elders said: A man will make a chest and there will be some falcon with images in it. With the help of that box with a falcon, a person will be able to see what is happening everywhere on this globe. But the more vigilant is known, the less people will love and care for each other. There will be such hatred that various falcons will be more important to them than their closest ones. This is just a fragment of their visions.
Kremna is also known for pleasing the guest, preparing the dish he likes. Every housewife offers hot gibanica, proja, prosciutto, cooked dishes from earthenware of exceptional taste, roast pork and lamb, homemade raspberry juices, the best brandy, various cakes…
The most exciting part of the tour is the Šargan eight - one of the most attractive tourist-museum railways in Europe among the narrow-gauge railways. It is a masterpiece of world industrial heritage.
Building it in the period from 1921 to 1925, the designers bridged the altitude difference of 300 meters above sea level, and overcame the air distance of 3.5 kilometers with the famous loop in the shape of number 8. It is about 13.5 kilometers long, has about twenty tunnels, several bridges and viaducts, which make up most of the railway. The train roared for the first time back in 1925, and the last eight were made on February 28, 1974, when the railway was abolished.
The renovation of the Šargan eight for tourist purposes began in 1999 and to this day the entire railway route has been revitalized, with authentic station facilities and original old wagons.
MEĆAVNIK – DRVENGRAD
By reviving old houses, transferred from the surrounding places, the architect and creator of the idea of a perfect life out of everyday life, the award-winning film director Emir Kusturica created a city-hotel. The only village (in the world as some would say) that has its own city, Drvengrad has a central square with a church, a library, a cinema, a gallery, a national restaurant, a pastry shop and a souvenir shop, squares and market place. There is also a sports center on Diego Armando Maradona Square, about whom Kusturica made a film. One standard applies here: safe sleep in comfortable beds.