Nature has been very generous to Serbia, providing it with vast areas of wilderness, fresh drinking water, waterfalls, caves, and forests. The people who lived here for a very long time learned how to tame it, and turn conditions that look harsh at first, to strategically good settlements that rely on the natural protection from intruders, wild animals, and other threats. One settlement like that is an ancient fortified town Sokograd, lying on a hilltop just above the wondrous natural spa Sokobanja, easily reachable by an adventurous hike through spectacular nature.
The most important cultural monument of the area is Sokograd - an ancient fortified town. The smell of the past, local legends, a spirit of fights, defense, and resistance - are some of the motives that fascinate the visitors. There is a healthy dose of mysticism involved - it’s suspected that the town was settled between the 1st and 7th centuries, during the rule of emperor Justinian, but it cannot be said for sure, as even some previous sources mention the same place, under the different name. Supposedly, the Roman emperor built the town above Sokobanja, to defend his people from tribes of Avars and Slavs.
The medieval town was occupied and destroyed in the 14th century, during the violent Ottoman attack. Today, the remains consist of the upper town with a gate, three observation towers, and walls.
Sokobanja, Sokograd, you come old and leave young -Branislav Nusic, the Serbian writer
Sokobanja and Sokograd lie between two wondrous mountains: Ozren and Rtanj. Rtanj is surrounded by the veil of misery. Peculiarly shaped, it resembles a perfectly shaped pyramid, in accordance with the golden ration, and the speculations connect it to paranormal activities like UFO sightings, strong energetic fields, and even some undiscovered civilizations. Whether you believe in it, or just use the stories to feed your imagination and hunger for conspiracy theories, Rtanj remains a great place to hike, explore and experience the real and raw Serbia.
Ozren mountain is considered an aerial spa due to the high oxygen concentration and vast forests. It’s often recommended by the doctors to people with respiratory problems. Ozren has a network of trails, going through the forest, by the rivers, waterfalls, hilltops with churches and beautiful views over the area. All in all, a must see for the visitors, at least for a quiet afternoon in the forest, and a powerful treat for the lungs.
Sokobanja is one of the most praised Serbian spas, that lies between the before-mentioned mountains on 400 meters of altitude. A high number of thermal waters and springs, mild continental climate, and unspoiled nature make this spa a noticeable touristic attraction. Its healing powers were spoken of since the ancient Romans, and equally popular throughout history. The spa is famous for its Turkish bath, and numerous cultural, entertainment and sports manifestations.
Sokograd is easily reachable from the center of Sokobanja. A simple adventurous hike to this ancient town will take the visitors on the beautiful forest path, following river, caves and even a waterfall. No wonder the place was popular even with the national celebrities and the royal family - it rejuvenates both body and soul.
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