I am sure you have been wondering what is more to Serbia, rather than those three biggest cities, spas and lakes. Trust me, there is waay more to it, as I have just started revealing you the most precious treasures of the country. Continuing our journey of discovering the hidden gems of the Balkan region, we will be stopping now in the central part of Serbia. Allow me to introduce you Kragujevac, the city with great and open heart and a soul that will offer you the rich history class, breath-taking nature and insight into the typical customes of the region. Are you a history nerd who is interested in travelling to the very heart of Serbia,and get the most out of that experience. Then Kragujevac is the perfect spot for you, as while walking on its street, you will have a feeling as if you have travelled way back in the past.
Kragujevac, situated on the banks of the Lepenica River, is the fourth largest city of Serbia and the administrative center of the Sumadija District, cultural educational, and political center of Sumadija and Western Serbia region. Known as Serbian Tooscana due to its glorious vineyards, it is located in central Serbia, 140 km south of Belgrade. The city experiences its flourishing during the period from 1818 to 1841, when Prince Milos Obrenovic pronounced it as the capital of Serbia. Then, the industrial development of Kragujevac begins,as the city is still known today for the automotive industry, mainly Fiat Automobili Srbija. Another history fact that is rather remarkable is that the city's first grammar school, First Kragujevac Gymnasium, and printworks were both established in 1833, followed by the professional National theatre in 1835, Military academy 1837 and the first full-fledged university in the newly independent Serbia in 1838.
Today, Kragujevac is known as the important university center of Serbia, with The University of Kragujevac established in 1976. Also, the city has two scientific research institutes: the Institute for Field Crops and Fruit and Grape Research Institute. If you take the road to Kragujevac, be sure to visit: National Museum, Town Hall, Old Livnica Museum, illustrating the beginnings and development of industrial production in Serbia and Memorial Park Sumarica. The center of the former Serbian capital has developed in the form of an ellipse with the first state buildings such as: the court with horses, church, arsenal, prison barracks, pharmacy, gymnasium, and theater. Sadly, most of the sights have been demolished as they did not survive the turbulence of the past times.
However, some objects have been preserved from the 19th century, such as Amidza Konak, the sole conserved building from the complex of Prince Milos’ Palace and within the National Museum. It was built in 1818 and it is the best representative of the Balkan-Oriental style. Apart from all, my warm suggestion is to visit the Cultural and Historical Complex of Kragujevac known as "Milosev venac", which includes a part of the central city area where the most important objects.
Whether you are a history lover or not, when you are in Kragujevac, you simply must visit the symbol of the city, Sumarice Memorial Park, the site of the execution of an estimated 3,000 men and boys of the town by the German occupation forces on October 21, 1941, during World War II. According to several historical writings: "All males from the town between the ages of sixteen and sixty were assembled and the victims - including high school students - were selected from among them." The memorial park was created in memory of the victims of WWII shooting, while the whole area of Sumarica was turned into a memorial - a park with 30 graves. This atrocity has been an inspiration for a poem called Krvava Bajka (Bloody Fairy Tale) by one of the greatest Serban poets, Desanka Maksimovic.
But apart from discovering the rich history of the city, upon visiting Kragujevac, you will enjoy in the delicious gastronomy, excellent nightlife and great festivals, as especially over the summer, all tourists are very domesticated. Young people worldwide are coming for camping, magnificent manifestations and organised free-touristic tours. So not only that you will meet energetic, new people, learn more about the rich history of the region but also you will enjoy in the beautiful natural beauties of Kragujevac, mainly rivers and glorious lakes.
Finally, I genuinely hope this brief history overview, memorable sights, incredible nature and friendly people will be just some of the few reasons for you to visit the heart of Serbia. And if you want to find out more about the spots like this, stay tuned.
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