June 27, 2010

Fruska Gora Monasteries

Krusedol Monastery

The Northern part of Serbia is called Vojvodina Region and is part of the Pannonian plain of Central Europe. The only mount in this extended flat region is the National Park of Fruska Gora which is also a well know tourist destination, and thanks to his hospitable and fertile environment around 35 monasteries were erected between the 15th and 18th century (some monasteries dates even from earlier time) in an area of 50 x 10 km.

 Krušedol  Monastery (Крушедол)

These monasteries were repeatedly protagonists of the history of the Serbian Nation, as pilgrims and refugees found places during time of persecutions. They were among the focal points of resistance against the Ottomans and also places of storage for treasures of orthodox spirituality and art over the centuries.

Today there are just 15 monasteries left and some of them were damaged during the NATO bombing campaign in 1999.
So now Fruška Gora Monasteries were declared Monuments of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1990, and they are protected by Republic of Serbia.

Velika Remeta Monastery  (Велика Ремета)

Novo Hopovo Monastery (Ново Хопово)

Nemanja from SpiritualSerbia (a company that organizes trips to Serbian-orthodox monasteries all over South-East-Europe) gave me some pictures of the beautiful Fruska Gora Monasteries and explained the most important facts for visiting Monasteries in orthodox countries.
Nemanja tells that the monks in Serbian orthodox monastery are not really strict about behavior of visitors in the monastery, as they assume that if you dress not adequate and behave rather rude, that you’re not doing it on purpose, but that you just don’t have a clue about the rules. However it’s nice to show you arrive prepared and are willing to show your respect for their holy place.

Jazak Monastery (Јазак)

Here some tips for visiting monasteries:

Apropriate clothing: For men it’s long trousers and closed shoes, and no head coverage. For woman it’s a long skirt, long sleeves and a headscarf.

Greeting the monks: Walking toward the monk (or monks) you can nicely say:
"pomaže bog" (literally: That god helps) and he will answer "bog pomogao" (literally: God helps). The monk will then hands you his hand that you will hold in your both hands and bend down your head and tell: "oče blagoslovi" (literally: Father bless me) and he will make a sign to bless you.

Of course you don't need to do all that, a simple greeting is fine. The monastery always will send one monk to show you around the monastery and answer your questions. Often you will be invited for coffee and cakes or exquisite monastery rakija. If you want to show gratitude leave some money or in the designated places or simply by the icons in the chapel.

Grgeteg Monastery(Гргетег)

Beočin Monastery (Беочин)

Vrdnik-Ravanica Monastery (Врдник-Раваница)

Nemanja from Spiritualtours proposes nices bed&brakfasts for overnight stays and good ethno restaurants for tasting Serbian Specialties.

June 3, 2010

Hotel Srbija in Vrsac

Who follows my blog knows already that I love big hotel projects built during the time of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. And now I discovered one more jewel to share in this space: the Hotel Srbija in Vrsac.

Vrsac is anyway an interesting city that is worth a visit because of its picturesque old town, the beautiful view from the Vrsac tower and the splendid vineyards in the surrounding.
And in the center of the city stands this huge building made in concrete!

The generous main entrance (picture from the hotel's website)

Usually when I visited hotels like that they were really run down or even closed.War, NATO-bombings and a difficult economic situation made it impossible for some region to keep big hotels open and to suitably renovate them. here in Vrsac it's a little different: the city makes a big effort to keep it a tourist destination, in the "millenium center" big sport events take place (like Eurobasket i 2005) and the strong vine industry brings anyway some prosperity to the city.
So the Hotel Srbija keeps up with comfortable 85 rooms and 6 suites, conference rooms and representative halls.

I like how in buildings like that, concrete is used in a rather sculptural way, the building looks like an insect, a well designed composition.

Pictures taken by Nemanja Mitrovic

Hotel Website http://www.hotelsrbija.co.rs/
Vsrac Touristic Website http://www.vrsac-tourism.com

Other fantastic Hotels from the SFRJ: 
Hotel Narcis in Strpce (Serbia, Kosovo and Metohija)
Hotel Palas in Mojkovac (Montenegro)
Hotel in Canj (Montenegro)
Hotel Centar in Igalo (Montenegro)
Hotel Petrus in Paracin (Serbia, Pomoravlje)