TRSTENIK TOWN: BEAUTIFUL, MYSTICAL AND BREATHTAKING
I am a writer but I am missing words every time when I have to describe the beauty of my motherland, the country where I was born and grown up. My Serbia, the land of so many scars and even double more smiles. During the history, it was attacked and burnt but like a Fenix bird, has risen again, stronger and braver as ever. The land of wild mountains, clear lakes, fast rivers, amazing people and delicious cuisine. This Serbia of mine is all. The miracle itself, that managed to survive challenges, risks and darkness. Nevertheless, there are some parts of Serbia that I like more than others and that I owe them my thoughts and my impressions. As a child of capital city, Belgrade, I had a great opportunity to visit all hidden corners of my homeland and to find those I attached to my heart for eternity. Even now, so many years after, when I have another home, thousand miles away, I find Sumadija the most wonderful region of Serbia, remarkable, proud and charismatic.
How we can tell a story about Sumadija ? First of all, Sumadija is a geographical area of central part of Serbia. Its name is specific and comes from the fact that this region is heavily forested ( The word Forest is in Serbian language :suma) and its volume is possible to imagine among Sava and Danube River on the north, Big Morava River on the East, West Morava River on the south and Kolubara River on the west. The French people used to call this administrative field as Choumadie, but for the rest of the world is simply Sumadija, the heart of Serbian Natural Beauty.
What is so special about this forested corner of Serbia ? Everything. This could be presented as small journey through the centuries or trip worth of adventure. You can find all you need exactly in Sumadija, since it holds on centuries of Serbian past and portrayed with many monasteries, churches, little castles, tiny villages, friendly locals and breathtaking nature landscape. I can recall my childhood years and old land-house in the village Orasje, located somewhere between Trstenik and Krusevac. As far as I know, that house has been given to my great grandmother for a care, since her relative immigrated in Canada, long time ago. His house marked my happy days of holiday, when I knew we will be away from city for a while and enjoying the glorious peace of Sumadija and its ecosystem. Usually I traveled there with my granny and great granny and those 2 hours away from Belgrade, the urban city, was like a ticket into another world, where everything smells natural. Oh, how much I loved those golden sunny days in that house, surrounded with sharp mountains, intense woods, followed by sounds of cows, chickens, and church clock in the humid afternoon. I used to play outside alone or with other kids from the village. It was so peaceful and safe, harmonic. It was never boring, even if I was alone outside, I liked to follow the hornets to their nests or to take care of little snakes lost on the ground. The house has been used only for a summer time like a holiday place but I was longing whole year to go again there, till next summer, till I wasn’t enough adult to travel alone, worldwide, far away from my Sumadija.
I always recommend to everyone to start with Trstenik. Somehow is logical to start with Mountain Avala, near Belgrade and then Oplenac and Vrnjacka Banja, but I choose to offer another itinerary. Give yourself a time for Trstenik and its surrounding. It could be that I am emotionally addicted to Trstenik because my great grandmother was born exactly in this town or maybe it is because of all thrilling tales and urban legends she told me, when I was kid, about the villages in this subarea of Sumadija. Who knows….but you will never regret visiting Trstenik, hidden between Gledic and Goc Mountains. The Gledic Mountains is one of the most beautiful mountains in Sumadija District and among top 5 of Serbia. It has canyon valley, mountain rivers and brooks, numerous springs and lots of flora. According to some explorers, this is also a mythical mountain, known to be shaped from the ancient times. I can’t forget that my great granny once narrated that she had been told from her grandfather, that there are over there even some strange traces of potential UFO. I have never checked this info, confirmed or rejected to believe. When I think now of this, I can also revoke the memory on her exciting stories about supernatural events that took place in the villages of her time, Velika and Male Drenova, Rekovac, Belusic, Sekuric or Kalenic. You can imagine how much I liked those ghost tales, especially when they have been told in the land house, during warm summer evenings. I imagined that is almost like sleepy hollow and that we only need to be patient to see Headless horse rider.
This region is known to be rich for a Mineral water Mivela:According to experts’ opinion, this water has been declared the best water in the world on the World’s exhibition in New York.” The spring is located in the Village of Veluce, just 10 km from the main road Pojate-Kraljevo and if you want to try the pure taste of this water, you have to visit the Village of Tobolac. The next stop should be Kalenic Monastery, built in 15th century, nearby Rekovac village and known to be one of the most important spot of Serbian history.
When we are opening the book of urban myths, let’s talk about vampires. I am sure you all know that those stories have been born in Serbia. How? For the answer, we need to go back to the village of Medvedja, near Trstenik, that has been, at the beginning of 18th century, the boundary between Austria and Turkey and Serbians used to be the border police and there are writings from local experts about this phenomena: “And then in 1731 and 1732, a series of events drew attention from the whole Europe, because Austrian doctors have visited the village two times due to these events, and documents which they wrote have induced great interest of European public. The cause for Austria to send their best experts to the border with Turkey, in Medvedja, was the death of 17 people, who died due to epidemic of “black pimple” also known as Anthrax. Today’s experts claim this to be the cause, but at that time people blamed Vampires. The story would not have made it to the imperial Capital if not for Austrian epidemiologist dr Marin Glasser hadn’t wrote down that the bodies of the deceased were in perfectly good condition even after several weeks after they had died. Soon, a group of doctors are in Trstenik area ´to enlighten the case”. To examine the bodies of dead Serbs in Medvedja, Austrian doctors have used the words Vampire (the walking dead) and vampiric. German society of educated people had an emergency meeting due to these strange occurrences and press all around Europe were racing to translate the report Visum et repertum (Seen and Discovered), for which even today is considered to be one of the most important documents in the history of Vampirism.” Local people like to believe that Vampirce is someone who was born from the mixture of Vampire and woman and in Serbian legend, Vampirce is a hero, someone who is fighting real and dangerous vampires. It is interesting that village of Medvedja is very well known as the headquarter of Vampire meetings. There are so many stories that include vampires Momo, Sava or Haiduk Arnaut Pavle and they have nothing to do with Transilvania or Dracula, they are only and exclusive Serbian figures.
It is not only about enjoying marvellous nature of Sumadija around Trstenik, it is also about feeding your soul and body with new tastes and colours. I don’t know if you know that Sumadija has great wines, almost like some kind of Serbian Tuscany. Trstenik is blessed to be the centre of real wine route of Serbia, offering the winery and brandy factory visits. Then, there are wonderful restaurants and tavernas but please be aware that majority of food is meat based. This town used to be grounded from merchants, winers and craftsman and each of them put their own footprint in the picture of this Sumadian town.
I could write and write, like a never-ending story but you need to feel it yourself, to meet and greet Trstenik, as it is. The raw beauty in the pure nature, shaped through the old times of historical doubts, moment of darkness, local legends and hope of villagers. It is Trstenik, it is Sumadija….to be lost among many different wines, inviting meals, thrilling roads with a possibility to see and discover Serbian vampires from the ancient book of myths.
WELCOME TO TRSTENIK, SUMADIJA, SERBIA. ENJOY YOUR STAYING!
One thought on “SUMADIJA: THE PEARL OF SERBIA”
Always, it is enlightening to be exposed to foreign cultures…