Vranje, Bujanovac

The Hot Blooded South

Located 35km from the Macedonian border, Vranje is the southernmost town in Serbia.  It is 345km from Belgrade via the E-75 highway.

Anna Conmena first references Vranje in 1093 in the famous Alexiad. King Milutin annexed Vranje to the Serbian medieval state in 1282, the same year he acceded to the throne. Vranje consequently became the center of the župa (a small administrative division).

If you stroll through the town center of Vranje, you will find the Orthodox Church dedicated to the Holy Trinity in the main square. Though it was completed in 1841, its imposing size provoked a Turkish rebellion and it was burnt to the ground. A new church was subsequently built in the same spot with features a number of characteristics of the old structure. The new building however was dug lower into the ground, had lower domes with no openings and no belfry. Arcades surround the structure on three sides. Local artists engraved the iconostasis with flora and fauna motifs. The most prominent are the icons painted on the iconostasis by Dičo Zograf in 1859. Zograf was the most talented icon painter of the Vardar River valley in Macedonia at the time. A 1922 obelisk located in the square in front of the churchyard is dedicated to the victims of the Bulgarian occupation of WWI.

Stroll down Kralja Stefana Prvovenčanog Street and discover Baba Zlatina Street in the old residential part of town. In accordance with Turkish custom, the area was enclosed with high walls on all sides. This picturesque part of town is named in honor of the grandmother of the well-known writer Bora Stanković.

Zlata’a and Bora’s house is located at 7 Baba Zlatina Street and today it is the Museum of Bora Stanković, who put Vranje on the world map with his novel and characters like Koštana of the Impure Blood. A courtyard full of flowers, which was characteristic of Turkish towns, surrounds the house where Bora was born in 1875. The house was built ninety years prior to Bora’s birth. The South Moravian style structure features a large yard and is typical of a middle class family home of the time.

Head down to Vranje’s busy pedestrian zone and you will find Pasha’s residence on Pionirska Street. The complex comprises two buildings erected by Raif beg Džinić in 1765 as his residence. Its architecture is representative of the period. The daughter of the last pasha sold it to the local metropolitan bishop who converted the building into Vranje’s first high school in 1881.

The building’s front residence, the selamluk was reserved exclusively for men. It faces the street was used by Pasha and his male entourage. The sheltered rear residence, the haremluk, was reserved for women. Today, the front residence is a National Museum that features a collection of Roman excavations, medieval coins, traditional costumes and craftwork.

Vranje’s pedestrian zone ends at Republic Square, where you will find the 1878 monument honoring the liberators of Vranje. The piece is the work of the sculptor Simeon Roksnadić. The monument, which shares the unfortunate destiny of the town, was demolished twice. Look closely and you will notice that the Serbian soldier featured in the monument is missing a hand. Vranje’s residents like him just the way he and have lovingly named him Čika Mita.

Behind the monument, you will find the magnificent old Municipality Seat building. It is considered to be architect Petar Popović’s best work. Cross the town river and you will discover the 17th century amam (Turkish bath).

Head four kilometers north of Vranje and you will discover the remains of the Markovo Kale fortress.  Many people believe the fortress is linked to Marko Kraljević, the greatest hero of Serbian epic poetry. All that remains of the structure are a wall and two towers. Kale offers a beautiful view of Vranje.

Dani Vranja (the Days of Vranje) is the city’s most festive celebration. The event is held here every year in September.

Explore beyond Vranje and you will discover the Prohor Pčinjski monastery 32km from the city, near the Macedonian border. The monastery was dedicated to Slav Prohor, who spent his ascetic days in this region.

Today, the old church is located northwest of the new one. Here, you will find the relics of Saint Prohor and beautiful 15th century frescoes. The main building of the monastery residence is considered to be one of the best examples of folk architecture from 18th century. In 1944, Macedonian communists conferred here to pronounce Macedonia the Republic of a new Democratic Federal Yugoslavia.

ACTIVITIES

The hot, healing mineral waters of Vranjska Banja originate in the stony bed of the Banjštica River. The deciduous forest along its banks protects the valley from the harsh mountain winds, creating a constant fog. The mineral waters here range in temperature from 96 to 100 degrees Celsius, making this one of the hottest springs in Europe. The water in the spa is cooled to 43 degrees Celsius. Archeological research about the site has revealed that these waters here have been in use for centuries. Come experience these relaxing waters!

Bujanovac

Bujanovac is a small town in the south of Serbia accessible via the highway to Skopje. The town is best known for the Bujanovačka Banja. The water here is 43 degrees Celsius. The spa is renowned for its healing mud.

The Church of Saint Archangel is located in the village of Lopardinci four kilometers north of Bujanovac. Though there is no written historical data about the structure, researchers believe it was built in the 16th century. The beautiful frescoes in the naos and altar area depict scenes of important religious holidays and of the suffering of Christ.

If you are in Vranje and Bujanovac, we recommend:

–   Enjoying the view of Vranje from the Markovo Kale fortress

–       A visit to Vranje’s Beli Most (White Bride)

–       A indulgent mud treatment at Bujanovačka Banja

BELI MOST

Beli Most is located close to Liberty Square in Vranje’s upper town. As stated in a plaque written in Arabic, this intricate bridge was built by Aisha to compensate for her sins and those of her parents. According to legend however, Aisha, a Muslim who fell in love with a Serb named Stefan was accidentally by her father. He consequently built the bridge to mark this tragic event. The Saint Nicolas Church, Vranje’s oldest temple is located next to the bridge. The Bagaša, a noble family from the 14th century, built this beautiful structure.

INFORMATIONS

Tourist Organization of Vranje
2 Street 29. novembra, 17000 Vranje
Tel: +381 17 546 505, 417 545
e-mail: tovranje@yahoo.com
www.gradvranje.com

Tourist Organization of the Bujanovac Municipality
111 K. Petrovića Street, 17520 Bujanovac
Tel: +381 17 651 396, 654 340
e-mail: elutfin@yahoo.com