The Queen of All Mineral Springs
Vrnjačka Banja is Serbia’s best-known spa. Located 195 km from Belgrade, the spa is accessible via highway E 761 or E 75 (to Pojate). If you are heading to Vrnjačka Banja in July and August and are feeling adventurous, take the steam engine Romantika train and hop off at the foot of Mount Goč.
Though no one knows exactly when Vrnjačka Banja was discovered, historical records indicate that the mineral water here was used as early as the Antiquity period. In 1924, portions of bathing pools and an old Roman fountainhead (Pons Fomanus) were uncovered here. In the same year, archeologists found 500 Roman coins, some dating back to before the time of Christ, but most from the 2nd though the 6th centuries.
Vrnjačka Banja’s present day name comes from the village of Vrnjci, where the mineral springs were discovered. According to legend, Vrnjačka waters had known medicinal uses during the Turkish rule. Some believe that wounded Turkish cavalrymen came into Vrnjačka Banja for treatment and forced locals to feed and attend them during their recovery. In an attempt to avoid serving the Begs (Turkish leaders) some locals apparently tried to bury the springs.
Banja flourished during the time of Prince Mihailo. Since its first official season opening in 1867, Vrnjačka Banja became a summer vacation spot of the elite. The resort features a number of beautiful 19th and 20th century villas around the spring and atop the surrounding hills. Today, they are the pride of Banja.
One of these stunning structures is the palace of King Regent Belimarković (1886). Built in the style of a countryside villa in Northern Italy, the palace is now a cultural center and gallery known as the Palace of Culture. The homes on Čajkino hill are especially beautiful. Priest Jefimije Popović built the small church at the very top of the hill in 1856. He was a great admirer of the Banja’s beauty and opened the first spring here in the very same year.
Vrnjačka Banja’s symbol is the sparrow wearing Serbian folk shoes (opanci) and sporting a Serbian national hat (Šajkača) on its head. Stroll through the city and you will discover a sculpture of the sparrow in the very center of Banja. If you find it, it is mandatory that you take a photo of yourself next to it. Everyone else does!
Vrnjačka Banja features seven beautiful mineral water springs. Four are used for therapeutic purposes, and two for bottled mineral water. Topla voda (warm water) is Banja’s oldest and most famous mineral water spring. According to archeological findings, it was used in the Roman period between the 1st and 4th centuries. The 36.5°C water of this spring is equivalent to the temperature of the human body. Jezero is another warm water spring. If you are looking for a refreshing dip, head to Snežnik (17.5°C) and Slatina (14°C), Banja’s cold water springs. Individuals come to Banja to find relief from diabetes, bile illnesses, and a range of gastrointestinal illnesses.
Apart from its healing waters, Vrnjačka Banja offers a variety of cultural events and entertainment. The city is home to the Film Screenplay Festival, which previews the year’s domestic productions and is held every August. The festive Carnival (Karneval) takes place every July and features processions around the city, contests, sports activities, mask shows and other entertainment. The event draws an estimated 200,000 revelers every year. Vrnjačka Cultural Ceremonies are held here every season. If you are the romantic type, head to Vrnjačka Banja on Valentine’s Day for the Longest Kiss contest held on the Bridge of Love.
If you are in Vrnjačka Banja, we recommend:
– Participating in Vrnjačka Banja’s Carnival festivities in July
– Taking a dip in the warm Topla Voda spring
– Photographing yourself with the sparrow sculpture in the center of Vrnjačka Banja
THE BRIDGE OF LOVE
If not for the padlocks that cover its railings, you might not even notice the Bridge of Love in the center of Banja. Though it is just one of 15 bridges in Vrnjačka Banja this bridge with a sad story has become the symbol of the city.
Locals tell the story of Relja and Nada, two young lovers who would meet here every night before WWI. Once the war broke out, Relja, who was an officer in the Royal Army, went off to war and never came back. He moved to Greece, married, and forgot all about Nada. Heartbroken, Nada waited for him on the Bridge of Love until her dying day. To avoid reliving Nada’s bitter love story, local love struck girls started coming to the bridge every night to secretly “lock up” their boyfriends’ hearts with padlocks. They did this with the hope of holding on their love for all eternity.
INFORMATIONSTourist Organization of Vrnjačka Banja 6/2 Vrnjačka Street, 36210 Vrnjačka Banja Tel: +381 36 611 106, 611 107
TIC Promenada Tel: +381 36 621 900, 611 105 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.vrnjackabanja.co.rs