It is known that waters from Vrnjacka Spa have a medicinal effect from the times of the Celtic tribes, the Scoridisci. After the Roman Empire in the mountainous Balkans, the Romans took over the peninsula and were also frequent visitors of the mineral resources. The archaeological findings in the center of the spa are the evidence that they make a significant part of the history of Vrnjacka Spa. The Roman source of hot water was accidentally found during the captures in 1924. Many coins with figures of Roman emperors covering the period from August to Emperor Valentinian were found in the fountain. The Roman source was neglected until 1989 when a glass pyramid arranged by the idea of architect Mihajlo Mitrovic was set above the source.
Its number of tourists stops with the arrival of the Turks in the Balkans, where actually there is no evidence that the spa was in use. Not long after the liberation from the Turks, Prince Milos hired Saxon geologist Baron Hedrera to verify the functionality of mineral resources in Serbia and therefore tested and Vrnjačka Spa`s hot mineral water. He had a plan to surpass the very well-known Czech spa at that time named Karlovy Vary.
The locals used this water for bathing, healing and drink in the mid 19th century. Although it had several years of stagnation, due to the neglect by the state and defect of the funds for construction, the spa became fashionable health resort in the 80s. There were approximately 200,000 visitors, where we had a figure of as much as 2 million overnight stays. The spa has a number of guest houses, cinemas, and the railway Stalac-Pozega that enables good traffic connections with the most major cities in Serbia.
OUR SHORT BUT SWEET JOURNEY
Before deciding to explore areas outside my country, I always entice the weekend in Sebia. This time the choice was Vrnjacka Spa. I have heard so many times that Vrnjacka Spa is the largest and most famous spa resort in Serbia and a very attractive tourist center for rest and recreation. Therefore it is one of the most visited spas in Serbia. The idea that the spa is only 200 kilometers away from Belgrade led me to visit it. It is located in the central Serbia, on the wooded slopes of Goc at 230 meters above sea level. You can reach Vrnjacka Spa by the main road through Kraljevo and highway via Pojate. The best way is Belgrade-Jagodina because the majority of it is the highway, the distance is about 200km, that means you need about two hours of easy drive.
During the summer, the spa is surrounded by the green overgrown grass, oak and pine trees, under whose crowns you can sip lemonade or coffee in one of the local cafes, while some visitors are happily strolling down the promenade. During the summer spell, there is a great number of performances and events from the spheres of culture and art, literary evenings, book presentations, theater performances, numerous painting exhibitions, concerts of different genres, films and so on. Culture has an important place in the tourist development of the spa.
One of the most visited event is an international carnival in Vrnjacka Spa that traditionally takes place for a few years, but at the same time the program more is popular and meaningful every year. It is of the great importance to be in Vrnjacka Spa at the time of the carnival, because then spa`s is the center of culture and entertainment in Serbia. During the Carnival in Vrnjacka Spa, there is something for everyone. Starting from the folklore to the cabaret, through exhibitions of photos and flowers, carnival of pets, to sports competitions. Dance groups from Brazil are also participants in the carnival, dressed in their characteristic richly decorated leotards, with a sleek, extravagant plumes.
In addition to the rich content during the summer, the spa can be attractive during the winter period too. For those of us who like a little more quiet atmosphere in the area of mineral springs and fresh air from the close mountains, this spa is perfect for relaxation. I’ll be immodest to write that its charm attracts good energy at any time of the year.
it does not matter whether you are located in the center or a little further from the city because you need roughly 10-15 minutes of walk wherever you are. I chose an apartment that was not in the center but it was the best option price, interior and exterior (although when I met the perky hosts, I was absolutely glad I had choosen them). You can check the offer of the spa wellness suites on IWA SPA APARTMENTS.
An unavoidable question of each tourist is where they can have a good quality meal. Check a couple of suggestions HERE
While I was walking down the promenade, a smiling bird, with the shoes on its feet and folk hat on its head draw my attention, winking at me and raising the left wing in greeting. I asked a few people what the charming sparrow which adorns the promenade stood for and one kind grandpa told me that Vrnjacka Spa hosted the competition the “Games Without Frontiers” in 1990, and the contest received their mascot on that occassion, the sparrow dressed in Serbian traditional clothing. They gave him the name Gocko, after the mountain Goc, which is near the spa. Today, the sparrow Gocko is a symbol of the spa, and is very popular both with locals themselves, both with visitors and tourists. The place where Gocko is is located at the central Carnival stages, so it is perfect for various cultural events and manifestations.
THE BRIDGE OF LOVE
I will have to agree that the bridge of love is the unavoidable attraction on the promenade across which you can get to the park of the spa. The bridge is the symbol of unfortunate love between two young people from Vrnjacka Spa, teacher Nada and officer Relje. Their love was so strong, and its energy is admired by all residents of Vrnjacka Spa. The basis of this story dates from the period during and after the First World War. Young Relja had to go to the battlefield and as he went promising her eternal love. However, after the war he did not return … The reason was the Greek girl who he supposedly fell so much in love with that he broke all connections with Nada. Destiny played a trick with this girl … Sadness, grief and disappointments were every day bigger and bigger that resulted in her death. She died of grief for a man who went after the other. Since they met at that very bridge of love, young couples from day to day hung their locks in order to keep their love and keys were symbolically thrown into the river. The story was forgotten after the numerous difficulties that the spa had during the wars, but Desanka Maksimovic revived it. She visited the spa and found out about this tragic love story and wrote one of her most beautiful love songs “Prayer for Love”.
To be honest, even if I went with my boyfriend, I would not attach to the bridge, knowing epilogue to the story and that Relja went for the other woman and forgot the love oath. But of course, anyone who visits spa has the opportunity to make his love crowned in some way by that symbolic padlock. To note, every February 14, on Valentine’s Day, the carriages come to the Bridge of Love, where a competition called “Kiss me” is held. Vrnjacka Spa is the most favorite destination of many couples for Valentine’s Day, because of the carriages, bridge of love, competitions and entertainment programs organized in the honor of the holiday of all those who are in love and loved.
THE JAPANESE GARDEN
Parallel to the promenade, on the other side of the river, there are four parks, which in the upper part contain: children’s playground, tennis court, artificial rock and Japanese garden. Vrnjacka Spa got the Japanese garden in 2011 – the new pride of its park. Japanese garden was made thanks to the cooperation of Japan and local authorities from Vrnjacka Spa and it covers an area of 3,000 square meters.
Japanese Garden represents a very characteristic decorative garden and although it is now called the Japanese, it comes from China. This principle of decorating gardens was transferred from China to Japan where they adopted it, and from where it gradually spread into other parts of the world.
What is symbolycal for every Japanese garden is the maximum use of space but with respect to nature. Japanese Garden harmonically represents unity and a set of elements of animate and inanimate nature, which complement each other.
Japanese garden in Vrnjacka Banja is the second such garden throughout Serbia. Namely, except from the most famous Serbian spa, only Belgrade can still boast the Japanese garden. Gratitude for the construction of now our garden we owe to the Organization for marking an anniversary of the World Fair in Japan in 1970. The best period for visiting the Japanese garden is sure late spring and summer when you see the true natural heritage in the form of greenery and beautiful colors of flowers. It is not much visited during the winter.
ABOUT THE BELIMARKOVIC CASTLE
This was in the 19th century the summer home of the influential General John Belimarkovic, the king’s governor at the time of King Aleksandar Obrenovic. The castle was built on the model of the northern Polish castles and more time, and it is the oldest and most representative building structure in Vrnjacka Spa. Belimarkovic`s successors lived in it until 1968, when the building was purchased and placed under state protection.
The castle was declared a cultural heritage and therefore is invaluable. Today, its name is “Palace of Culture” and it houses in itself the Heritage Museum of Vrnjacka Spa and the environment. It is a host to numerous concerts of classical music, drama collages, photo galleries, summer academy of classical music, as well as a center for contemporary graphics, but also the promotion of books. The permanent exhibitions of the museum are three exhibitions:
`Ladjariste – the prehistory of people from Vrnjacka Spa` – This exhibition presents the traces of the oldest settlements on the territory of Vrnjacka Spa originating from the New Stone Age.
`The ethnographic heritage of Vrnjacka Spa` – it reflects the way of life in our region since the second half of the nineteenth century to the sixties and “Memorial Room of General Belimarkovic`.
And out of season `The Art Collection of the Castles of Culture” – it represents the rich fund of paintings, prints and sculptures from the second half of the twentieth century. The entrance was free and I was not announced because I unexpectedly came to visit but I was informed that over the years they sometimes organized group visits and that price was symbolic and affordable for every pocket.
If you find time, you should visit the Medieval monuments around Vrnjacka Spa which are considered as a real cultural good. Some of the most valuable Serbian monasteries are located along the Ibar gorge: Studenica, Zica, the first Serbian Archbishopric, Gradac, founded by Helen of Anjou, Saint George Pillars, Sopocani, the church of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
THE MOUNTAIN GOC IN WINTER
Not far from the Vrnjacka Spa is the mountain Goc, with its highest peak at 1124 m. The ski slope of length of 520 m and a width of 60 m is located on Goc (11 kilometers from the center of the Spa). The highest peak is called Ljukten and it has an altitude of 1216 meters. Renting the ski equipment is far cheaper than on Kopaonik. It is around 6e-7e per day. There is also an option for ski lovers at night.
A place where you can sleep in the ethnic ambience and sip mulled wine by the fireplace is the ethno mountain house Horizon I, which offers lodging services. It is adorned by the exhibits that are several centuries old, checkered tablecloths, rugs, and old Serbian music. It is located around 12km from the spa. Goc is accessible from many sides, but the two main roads leading towards it are from Kraljevo across Kamenica to the top of the Dobre vode and from the Spa to Stanisinci. There are two options if you want to go from the spa to Goc. The old and the new way. I suggest the old way because it is less steep and closer around 5km. I did not embark with my own car on this adventure because it is not really accessible when the snow attacks, but I went on a short tour in agreement with the taxi drivers, for a total of 2000 dinars. On the way to the mountain, we stopped by to the kind hosts, and tried cream cheese and their boiled brandy. Nothing better than such a welcome on a cold winter day!
THE MOUNTAIN GOC IN SUMMER
There are numerous ponds with the trout from Goc, where you can immediately eat a delicious meal and enjoy the beautiful setting of the summer. Goc is known for its cultural and historical monuments, such as “Roman cemetery”, i.e. the place where Sasi were buried, the miners who excavated and smelted iron at the time of Nemanjic dynasty. There are about 250 sources of drinking water on the mountain Goc, that makes the mountain area one of the richest in Europe. Mountain forests are unique in Serbia because they guard and protect the drinking sources, so their chopping is strictly controlled. The remnants of the medieval town Koznik are located in the surroundings. Apart from the monuments, the famous wine cellars of the winery “Zupa” are also unavoidable.
In place Gvozdac on Goc is an artificial lake that fits perfectly into the natural environment in which swimming is prohibited but the walk next to it is possible and very pleasant in the summer and is a nice location for organizing excursions. The area of Goc is covered with beech and fir trees, and there is also Goc pine, oak, noble hardwood and coniferous exotic. Vast forests and hills of Goc with its unspoiled nature and clean air have beneficial effects on anemic persons, they strengthen the metabolism and nerve system.
Goc has facilities (courts for basketball, volleyball, handball and tennis), for the preparation of athletes, organizing recreational classes and sports camps, hiking, paragliding, fishing and hunting.
WE HAVE COME TO AN END
This short trip will remain in my wonderful memories but with an even stronger desire to visit it again during the summer days, for a longer period of time and to experience every part of this magical spa that everyone is talking about, from tourists to locals. Extenuating circumstance during my visit was my taxi driver whom I met quite by accident. He escorted me through the center and gave several interesting facts about the spa but you would have to agree it would not be interesting from me to discover them all to you. You have to personally engage in the oasis of interesting history, rehabilitation, bohemian night and feel the air from the mountains of our beautiful spa. If you decide to visit Vrnjacka spa send us an email and we will arrange everything you need at affordable prices with a superb atmosphere.