We celebrate my father’s birthday formally on 25th August … I say “formally” because it seems that he was actually born some other day, perhaps 19th August 1946 at the family’s home, in a small mountain village located on one of the largest mountain ranges of Serbia, Kopaonik. Today, Kopaonik is the major ski resort of Serbia, but it was very different in 1946. In those days, the family decided to celebrate his birthday together with another orthodox festivity that happened to be around the birth date. Consequently, they missed 6 days before they went to the city to declare the birth of their first newborn child. Life at that time was difficult in the mountains, so my grand parents moved to the city when my father was only 2 years old.

This year (2016), we organized a family & friends gathering for dad’s 70th birthday. He took us sightseeing to his favorite places in the area, and we were amazed with the beauty of nature in Eastern Serbia.

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Firstly, we went to the nearby Serbian Orthodox monastery Manasija, founded by Despot Stefan Lazarevic, in XV century (between 1406 and 1418). The inside of the monastery originally had about 2000 square meters of hand painted frescoes. Only a quarter of the paintings survived until today. The major damages on the monastery happened during the five centuries of the Ottoman Turks rule in Serbia (note Serbia was part of the Ottoman Empire between 1371 and 1817). Immediately after discovering the monastery, Turks wrecked it by removing the lead roof of the church, which they melted for the guns.

One interesting detail of the church is that the alleged human remains belonging either to Despot Stefan Lazarevic or his brother Vuk Lazarevic, sons of Serbian Prince Lazar,  are kept in the monastery. The DNA comparison with the remains of Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović, a medieval Serbian ruler (see photo below, on the left), confirmed that with 90% probability they belong to two closely related individuals.

After visiting the Manasija monastery, we stopped at the Park of Miniatures, a contemporary park of architectural miniatures, near Despotovac. The park exposes true models and copies of the Serbian medieval monasteries, churches, and traditional medieval houses (see the photos below).

Our next stop was the Resava cave, whose age is estimated to 80 million years, with some of the cave formations dating around 45 millions years back. The cave was opened to visitors in 1972. Today, 2830 m are investigated and the tourist path is 800 m long. Some of the most famous cave formations are known as the “Hung Sheep”, “Elephant’s Foot”, as well as the “sculpture” of a mother with a child.

Below are some photos of the nature in the surrounding of the Resava cave.

Our final stop was the Lisine Waterfalls (known as the Great Buk (Veliki Buk)), which is apparently one of the most popular natural attractions of Serbia. The  waterfalls are surrounded with well-preserved lush forests, river valleys, the Radoseva Pecina cave and other small caves, carst springs meadows and intricate ranges of the Kucaj mountains.  A number of underground waters cut their way through the rocky springs, creating beautiful water cascades. The entire area is under protection of the country of Serbia.

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The area hosts several restaurants serving fresh trout from their own ponds and  traditional food such as the tasty homemade bread baked under the ceramic pot (called “ispod saca”), Beljanica cheese and kaymak cheese, corn bread, roasted lamb, and BBQs. We stopped at the Lisinski Raj (The Paradise of Lisine) restaurant, which was dad’s recommendation. See below to get a taste of it. 

The final anniversary party was at our garden! This was rather a short gathering interrupted by a summer rain, plus everyone was tired after being exposed to various oxygen-ozone cycles of non-urban mountainous areas.

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Happy birthday to my beloved daddy 🙂

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