When you think of Serbia, especially in the terms of tourism, probably the first thing that would cross your mind would be the famous Exit festival in Novi Sad or Belgrade’s nightlife. But there are so many other hidden cultural and natural places to visit like historically important Manasija Monastery, breathtaking Resava Cave and lovely waterfall Veliki Buk located in the Resava Valley near town Despotovac.
What makes Serbian monasteries interesting and mystic is their location. Surrounded by beautiful nature they stay hidden from the main roads and are very hard accessible. Yet, they stayed there for centuries representing meaningful cultural and historical heritage of the country. The Manasija Monastery was founded by the Serbian ruler Stefan Lazarević known also as Stefan The Tall (1377-1427). The church of the Holy Trinity is surrounded by the fortress with 11 towers. Inside the church, we ran into a tourist guide who introduced us to the turbulent past of the monastery. As the founder built it to serve as his mausoleum, he brought the finest painters, mostly from Greek islands to work on the frescoes in the church. They used gold and Byzantine blue, which at that time was even more expensive than gold and symbolized the power of rulers. Unfortunately, only 30% of the frescoes have left today. After the invasion of the Ottoman Empire and the fall of Manasija, everything that was valuable was taken away. During the five centuries of Ottoman rule, the monastery was wrecked. The church was turned into livery stable and in the outer entrance hall, they kept arms and gunpowder which exploded several times. Inside the church is a tomb of the founder – Stefan Lazarević.
Manasija Monastery was a place where Constantine The Philosopher established the famous orthographic Resava School of Transcription. The transcripts of Resava School played a very important role in the Serbian literacy in the middle ages.
Driving 20 km from Manasija you will get to the breathtaking Resava Cave. It is the largest cave in Serbia, with 4 km of passages, but only 800 m opened for visitors. The cave was discovered in 1962 and opened for visitors ten years later. The cave is an attraction in that area you definitely shouldn’t miss. If going inside take a jacket or rent one, because it’s very cold 80m under the ground. Millions of years old halls and passages with stalagmites and stalactites are perfectly illuminated which gives another dose of mysticism. I felt like in the movie.
Going further from the cave you’ll get to waterfall Veliki Buk. It’s not one of most stunning waterfalls you’ll ever see, but in Serbia, there is not a lot of them. So this one is familiar for its height, richness in water, and a very romantic place.