Exotic Natural Formations
The town of Prokuplje lies 250 km from Belgrade and 31 km southwest of Niš. Though this small town located on the Toplica River projects a modern flair, archeological excavations have revealed remnants of ancient civilizations that suggest settlements existed here in seventh millennium BC.
The Saint Prokopije Church, at the bottom of Hisar Hill, is one of the town’s most important sites. The temple’s core dates back to the 9th century, when it was a three-nave basilica. With subsequent rebuilding, it was transformed into a five-nave basilica. The basilica is the resting place of Saint Prokopije’s remains, which were brought here from Niš. The town bears his name.
Explore Prokuplje further and you will discover the remains of an ancient temple and early-Christian church. The Latin Church, known as the Jug-Bogdan Church, is near Saint Prokopije Church. The 14th century structure, which was modeled after a Roman sanctuary, is likely dedicated to Hercules. The inhabitants of Dubrovnik once had a large commercial colony here and often worshiped in this one-nave church. As a result, it came to be known as the Latin Church.
A tragic event occurred in Prokuplje during WWI. The massive Toplica rebellion took place here in 1916 during the Bulgarian occupation. Some 20,000 people were slaughtered when the rebellion was ultimately crushed.
The excavations on the outskirts of town date back several centuries and reveal customs that date back to several cultures and civilizations. The Hisar Fortress, which consisted of a lower and upper town, is perched on Histar Hill, which overlooks the town. An extraordinary monument, it dates back to when Prokuplje was known as Hammemum. A river surrounds the site on three sides. At one time, this natural barrier was critical to protecting the main road between the Morava River Valley and Kosmet. The Turks conquered the fortress in 1454, during same period they took over the city of Kruševac. The Jug-Bogdan tower is the only structure that remains of the fortress. According to historical records, it once supplied water to the town from Toplice.
According to legend, the fabled Jug-Bogdan, his wife and their nine sons all hail from Prokuplje. If you are visiting the town, you will notice that many places are named after him. Remains of old civilizations are on display in Prokuplje’s National Museum, located in the town square.
Kursumlija (Kuršumlija) lies 32km southwest of Prokuplje. At one time the, ancient Roman town of Ad Fines stood here. Stefan Nemanja, the forefather of the Nemanjić royal family, spent some time here in the 12th century. Several members of this royal family were canonized as saints. Nemanja built both the Most Holy Mother of God and Saint Nicolas monasteries, which featured lead roofs that once glittered in the sun. The town bore the name of these churches for some time. It was also called Toplice, likely for the mineral water springs that this region famous. The Turks eventually named the town Kuršumlija, for it lead-roofed churches.
The region is also known for the numerous legends originating from the Radun River. One of them proclaims the rivers here flow upstream.
The village of Viče in the vicinity of Kuršumlija is the site of an ancient spa sanatorium that dates back to the third millennium BC. It is considered to be the world’s oldest spa. In fact, the area is dotted with beautiful spas, including Prolom Banja (Prolom Spa), which lies 23 kilometers from Kuršumlija. This spa features a range of therapeutic mineral waters and is one of Europe top spa destinations. Prolom’s bottled water is particularly effective for those suffering from kidney and urinary tract infections.
Lukovska Banja (Lukovska Spa), which lies 35km from Kuršumlija, is a popular destination for individuals who suffer from rheumatism and spinal ailments. The thermo-mineral waters range in temperature from 59 to 69 degrees Celsius and flow at nearly 100 liters per second.
If you are interested in seeing an unusual natural phenomenon, head to Davola Varos (Đavolja Varoš), which lies at the base of Radan Mountain not far from Kuršumlija.
This unique rock formation, which is currently a nominee for one the Seven Wonders of the World, is comprised of 202 different rock pyramids (or towers). These stone-capped towers were created by erosion. They are approximately 20 m high and are mostly grouped in rows. It is difficult to know the exact number of towers at the site, as new ones are continuously being created while old ones fall away. Each pyramid tower has its own unique ever-changing shape.
Though there is a range of theories on how this incredible rock formation was created, two stand out in particular. One legend asserts that the towers are actually stone children who outsmarted the Devil during a bet. The other claims that the towers were formed to prevent the Devil from carrying out a wedding ceremony between a brother and sister. To thwart this sin, an otherworldly force turned all the guests to stone. When the wind blows among these pyramids, it creates a howling sound, thus contributing to the haunting atmosphere here.
Davolja Varos is accompanied by two different natural springs. The first, Djavolja voda (Devil’s Water), is highly acidic and possesses a significant concentration of minerals. The second natural spring is called Crveno vrelo (Red Well).
If you are in Prokuplje and Kursumlija, we recommend:
– A walk up to Hisar Hill and the Saint Prokopije Church
– A relaxing body treatment at Prolom Banja (Prolom Spa)
– A visit to the Đavolja varoš (Devils’s Town) rock formations
The Sijarinska Banja (Sijarinska Spa) lies on the banks of the Jablanica River in southern Serbia. The spa features 18 mineral water springs ranging in temperature from 32 to 72 degrees Celsius. If you visit this spa, you will notice its remarkable geyser, the only one of its kind in Europe, which shoots hot water eight meters into the air. The spa also features a geyser that erupts every ten minutes.
INFORMATIONSTourist and Sports Center of Prokuplje 29 Ratka Pavlovića Street, 18400 Prokuplje TIC Prokuplje, 84 Ratka Pavlovića Street Tel: +381 27 329 989, 329 901 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tourist Organization of the Kuršumlija Municipality 20 Palih boraca Street, 18430 Kuršumlija Tel: +381 27 380 963, 380 961 e-mail: email@example.com www.tokursumlija.rs