Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Eastern Serbia, an Unexplored Diamond

Text by Mladen Vuksanovic   
From Roman memorials to Neolithic sites, medieval fortresses and deep gorges, this little known part of Serbia has more than enough to impress travellers.

A trip to Eastern Serbia has many sights of interest - Golubac, Kladovo, Lepenski Vir, the Djerdap gorge and Viminacium, and, with an organised schedule, one night away from Belgrade should be enough to pack them in.

Taking the Belgrade-Pozarevac highway, head past Pozarevac, an unlovely regional town and shortly after you’ll reach Veliko Gradiste, home to one of the few decent hotels in the region.

The Silver Lake Resort, built a year ago, has all the facilities you’ll need for a relaxed stay.

From the hotel you can take a 90 minute cruise around the lake for 100 dinars (around 1.25 euro), or if you fancy spending a little longer you can rent a boat for the day for 5,000 Serbian dinars (around 62 euro) and just take in the surrounding nature.

The hotel restaurant serves accomplished food and has a terrace with a magnificent view over the forest.

The hotel serves as a good base to explore the castle at Golubac and the nearby archaeological sites of Lepenski Vir and Viminacium. But those with less time might like to head straight on.

Golubac Fortress

At the gates of the Djerdjap Gorge is the medieval fortified town of Golubac, located 4 kilometres downstream from the modern-day town of the same name. Unfortunately, the road on the bank of the Danube runs through the middle of the complex, but the site is nevertheless impressive.

Ruins date back to the ninth century, but written records date from 1335, when, we’re told, the infamous Despota Stefana installed his wife, Jerina in the fortress.

Completely wild and untended, the castle rewards a visitor brave, or perhaps foolhardy, enough to scramble up amongst the ruins, with some spectacular views across to the Romanian side of the Danube and along the Djerdjap gorge.


Viminacium was the capital of the Roman province of Moesia, when the Roman town and military camp covered more than 450 hectares. Most now lies under farmland, but objects from the Roman period are constantly unearthed by seasonal ploughing.

Excavation of Viminacium’s ‘City of the Dead’, undertaken in the last three decades of the twentieth century uncovered more than 13,500 graves. Parts of Viminacium are preserved for visitors and give an idea of the scale and scope of this third century outpost of the Roman Empire.

Lepenski Vir

Located on the right bank of the Danube, this is one of the most significant Neolithic archaeological sites in the region. Rediscovered between 1965 and 1970, excavations revealed seven settlements and 136 buildings, primitive houses and temples, built between about 5,500 and 6,500 years ago. The museum complex makes for an interesting afternoon for the casual visitor, but merits a much longer stay for anyone interested in the period.

Heading on down through the gorge, there are one or two good roadside stops for refreshments and the Danube itself is very beautiful here, carving its way through the limestone massif. One word of caution, however: your proximity to Romania here means your phone is likely to pick up a Romanian network - watch out for those international call charges!

Trajan’s Memorial

A Latin inscription dedicated to the Roman Emperor Trajan is set into the walls of the Djerdap gorge. A part of the archaeological remains was moved from the lower gorge before the building of the hydro-electric constructed at the end of the gorge. The monument dates from around 100-103 AD when Trajan’s expeditionary force was fighting the Dacians north of the Danube.

Further down still is Kladovo, a small, well preserved town and border crossing, where the huge hydro-electric power plant, a joint Serbian Romanian project from the 1960s, makes an interesting side trip after all that archaeology.

The four-star Aqua Star Danube hotel is a good place to overnight before the journey back into town which should take around 3 hours.

This article is courtesy of Balkan Insight, the online publication of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, which contains analytical reports, in-depth analyses and investigations and news items from throughout the region covering major challenges of the political, social and economic transition in the Balkans.

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