The Valley beloved by the Kings
Located close to the confluence of the Ibar River and Zapadna (Western) Morava, Kraljevo is 174 km from Belgrade on highway E75. Kraljevo is Serbia’s largest municipality. The city of Kraljevo is the administrative, cultural, and economic center of the Raška region in central Serbia. Previously known as Karanovac, the city was renamed Kraljevo in 1882 to coincide with the anointment of Milan Obrenović at Žiča monastery as modern Serbia’s first king following Turkish rule. During WWII, the city suffered a great tragedy when 5,750 of its citizens were shot in an act of retribution. Walk around Kraljevo and you will find a memorial park in their honor.
Prince Miloš Obrenović drew the first city plan of present day Kraljevo by finger in a sand-filled pan. Laza Zuban used this crude sketch in 1832 in his endeavor to convert this settlement into a modern city. The city features three main boulevards. A network of perpendicular streets starts at the city square and fans out in four directions. As a result of this structured city grid, Kraljevo is considered to be a masterpiece of Serbian urbanism.
Contemporary Kraljevo is not only a prominent cultural, educational, and economic center; it also draws plenty of visitors. Apart from several cultural and arts societies, the city’s museum, theater, library, archives and other prominent institutions offer a host of interesting displays and information about the city. Kraljevo also organizes several art colonies and festive events, including The Days of Lilac and the Ibar Merry Descent festivals.
If you are in Kraljevo, a visit to the church of the Ascension of the Most Holy Mother of God is a must! The temple, which was built by Prince Miloš Obrenović is the most sacred preserved structure in the city.
Stroll through the city and you will discover Master Vasa’s Konak (residence). Built in the konaks style of the Miloš’s period, it features elements of Balkan architecture from the first half of the 19th century. Today, it is home to the Vladika (Bishop) Nikolaj Velimirović Spiritual Center.
Explore beyond Kraljevo and you will discover the exquisite Žiča monastery near the fertile flats of the village of Kruševica. Located just six kilometers from Kraljevo, this brick stone and stalagmite monastery is painted a vivid red. If Kraljevo was the city of kings, then Žiča was their temple. The monastery is one of the greatest sanctuaries of the Serbian people. Stefan Pvovenčani (Stefan, the First Crowned, 1195-1223), the first king of the Serbian state who was crowned here in 1217, founded the monastery. According to historical records, construction of Žiča began when Saint Sava returned from Hilandar in 1206. His goal was to complete the monastery before the crowning of its patron in 1217.
The Žiča monastery complex was built as the seat of the Serbian Archdiocese and as a place of ordination for clergy rulers. The Church of the Ascension of the Lord and the small church dedicated to the Saints Peter and Paul are the only original structures remaining in the complex. The other structures were built later. Žiča’s architecture typifies the Raška School. It features a single nave church with a semi-circular altar apse on the east side, a dome on the west side, and an orthogonal reader on the south and north sides of the building.
According to experts, the mural inside Žiča developed in three phases over an entire century (1219-1316). It consists of three distinctive parts, differing in style and origin. The monastery includes a mesmerizing collection of frescoes featuring portraits of Stefan Prvovenčani and his son Radoslav, who was also crowned here.
Maglič is one of the most well preserved fortified medieval towns in Serbia. Unfortunately, little is known about the origins of this hilltop fortress thirty km southwest of Krljevo.
If you are traveling in the Kraljevo – Raška region in the month of May, you will be rewarded with a stunning view of the Ibar River Valley: lilacs in full bloom. King Uroš I first planted the lilacs here to welcome his wife-to-be Jelena Anžujska and to remind her of her native Provence.
Mataruška Banja (Spa) is located just eight km from Kraljevo on the banks of the Ibar River. The 15 ha park is situated in the scenic mountains of Stolovi and Čemerno. With a temperature of 42-51°C, the hot springs are quite sulfuric and are used to treat a range of ailments. Bogutovačka Banja, another spa close to Kraljevo is a soothing place surrounded by a wooded area and the Lopatnica River. The spa, which is known for its calming effects, is an ideal vacation destination.
Just 20 km for Kraljevo, Goč Mountain features a range of sport facilities. Though it is a popular training spot for athletes, the mountain also attracts children for its recreational facilities.
When in Kraljevo, we recommend:
- Admiring the magnificent frescoes of the Žiča monastery
- Experiencing the sight and scent of lilacs in the Ibar River Valley
- Participating in the Merry Descent festivities in Kraljevo
THE STUDENICA MONASTERY
Once the political, cultural and spiritual center of medieval Serbia, the Studenica monastery is located between Kraljevo and Novi Pazar, close to the town of Ušće. Founded by Stefan Nemanja in 1190, the monastery is dedicated to the Ascension of the Most Holy Mother of God. The monastery complex comprises three churches: the Mother of God church, the Saint Joachim and Anna church, and the Saint Nicholas church. Studenica is an incredible cultural treasure that appeals to spiritual pilgrims, historians and art lovers alike. The monastery has been under UNESCO protection as a world heritage site since 1986.
INFORMATIONSTourist Organization of Kraljevo 25 Square Srpskih ratnika, 36000 Kraljevo Tel: +381 36 316 000, 311 192 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.jutok.org.rs