A Land that Heals
Established by Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević in 1845, Raska (Raška) is one of Serbia’s newest towns. It lies 82 km south of Kraljevo and 252 km from Belgrade. Located at the confluence of the Raska and Ibar Rivers, it was named after the river and the region it inhabits. Raska is considered to be the most urban town of its period. Apart from its short urban history, archeological findings suggest the existence of a settlement where Raska now lies long before the establishment of the present day town. There are a number of archeological sites near Raska, including Zajčaka and the village of Rvati, which have not been fully explored.
Today, Raska is a modern town. There are an amazing 550 meters of water per square kilometer in the vicinity of Raska. The Ibar River and it tributaries, the Brenevica, Jošanica, Rudnička and Radošička Rivers, create a dense hydrographic network. The town is also blessed with a wealth of ore resources and mineral water springs. The Marina mineral springs, the Barska waterfall, Semeteško Lake, as well as Kopaonik, the famous winter mountain resort, are all located in the vicinity of Raska.
Explore beyond Raska and you will discover monasteries in the vicinity that date back to the early Middle Ages. The 13th century Gradac Monastery is especially intriguing. The monastery’s Holy Mother of God church was built as the burial place for the Queen and great patroness Jelena Anžujska (Hélène d’Anjou), wife of King Uroš I. The Končul monastery is located 3 km from Raska, on the shores of the Ibar River. Some believe Nemanja, one of the prominent Serbs of his time, founded the monastery. The St. Nicholas Church adjacent to the monastery still stands today.
The Stara Pavlica monastery is located in the village of Pavlica, 6 kilometers north of Raška. It was built in the late 12th century, before the time of the Nemanjić Dynasty. All that remains of the monastery is a partially preserved church in honor of Saints Peter and Paul, the monastery’s patrons.
Built by the wealthy Musić brothers in the late 14th century, the Nova Pavlica monastery is located in the immediate vicinity of the Stara Pavlica monastery. Nova Pavlica’s church is dedicated to the Initiation of the Most Holy Mother of God. The mother of the Musić brothers and Dragana, Tsar Lazar’s sister, both wore the monastic habit in this monastery. Dragana, who was known as Teodosija, died here as a nun.
Located in the center of the Balkan Peninsula, the Kopaonik mountain range is the most expansive in Serbia. Kopaonik’s name originates from the medieval mine diggers (kopati – to dig) who extracted iron and silver from the mountain. The Venetians called Kopaonik Montagna del Argento.
Of its 70 kilometer North-to-South stretch, only the 1600m Suvo Rudište Plateau is under state protection. Peaks under protection include the Karaman and Gobelja (1934m), Kukavica (1726m), and the highest, Pančićev (2017m), which offers spectacular views of large portions of Serbia. The peak was named after Josif Pančić (1814-1888), a famous Serbian biologist who was a frequent visitor to Kopaonik and wished to be buried here. His wish was fulfilled in 1951 when his remains were buried at the highest point on the mountain.
The Kopaonik National Park includes breathtaking forested hills and the beautiful valleys of the Rasina and Brzećka Rivers. Banjski Kopaonik is located north of Suvo Rudište, with Vučak, its highest peak (1718 m) overlooking Jošanička Banja.
Kopaonik features exceptional flora and fauna. Its forests change in composition as the elevation rises. Oaks are followed by beeches, which are then followed by pines. The Suvati (cattle pastures) are located above the tree line. They offer plentiful land for grazing and feature a network of springs whose waters travel rapidly down the mountainside. Kopaonik is home to wolves, foxes, rabbits, eagles and the colias balcanica, a rare species of butterfly.
Kopaonik is a favorite spot for winter sports enthusiasts. While it receives plenty of snow, it also boasts an average 200 sunny days per year. Kopaonik’s main resort center is the Konaci Complex (konaci, pl. of konak – residence). There are two main roads that lead to the complex: one from Jošanička Banja, and the other from Brus, via Brzeće. The resort has 22 ski lifts for 23 trails. They include four for children, 12 for beginners, five for intermediate and two for advanced skiers. Overall there are 44km of trails, with an additional 20km designed for cross-country skiing. If you visit in the summer, Kopaonik offers plenty of activities to enjoy, including hiking, tennis, soccer and basketball.
When in Raska and Kopaonik, we recommend:
- A summer hike along one of Kopaonik’s many trails
- A winter ski trip to Kopaonik
- A visit to Raška’s annual spiritual ceremonies
There are a number of thermal springs that originate deep in the valleys of Kopaonik. The water 78.5C water at Jošanička Banja offers a range of medicinal benefits. It is also ideal for bathing and drinking. Breathe in its soothing vapors and relax. But be careful. If you were to drop an egg in this water, it would be hard boiled in less than five minutes!
INFORMATIONSThe Tourist and Sports Organization Raška 1 Nemanjina Street, 36350 Raška Tel: +381 36 738 670 Tourist Info Centre Kopaonik Tel: +381 36 471 230 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com www.raska-turizam.rs