It is a slow Sunday morning, and the town square is full of young and old alike, street musicians are playing some well known Yugoslavian tunes. It’s a peaceful afternoon when the sun is too strong, and people are too tired to roam around, and if you walk to the city center, you can hear only the refreshing splash sounds of the central fountain. It’s a lovely evening looking like everyone is trying to stretch it out as much as possible and enjoy this weekend just an hour longer than usual. Families are out, teenagers are falling from their skateboards, and young adults are holding their cans of local beer, while a lively guitar from the local street performer makes you whistle along the tune and a smell of popcorn follows you around with the kids laugh. Meet Zajecar, a vivid town of many stories and proud locals.
And while the above description may sound just like any other small town on the planet, there is something special about Zajecar. It’s...my hometown. I know, you may think it’s just special to me, as it carries much of sentimental value, but let’s give it a chance. People who live here recommend a simple city tour: a morning wandering around the buzzing city center, and an afternoon in the deep shades of the favorite local park-forest Kraljevica.
When taking a walk through the main streets and squares, your attention will be drawn to the colorful and exceptionally beautiful buildings like those of the district office, regional court, national museum and old gymnasium. The building of Rаdul-bеg’s Kоnаk from the 19th century and the authentic Turkish Mill testify of some other times and stories. Zajecar is a rather young town compared to other Serbian towns and cities, with the first mentioning in history dating back to the “recent” 15th century. The National Museum holds a permanent exhibition of the artifacts found in the nearby Ancient Roman palace Felix Romuliana.
There are eight fortifications built in the early 19th century, in order to defend the Serbian state from the Ottoman vandals, in the town’s most visited park Kraljevica. The forts give a charming feeling to the forest-park, as you can find yourself walking on the dirt path through the deep forest and discovering random ruins and arcs of the 200-years old military bastions. And all that within a half an hour from the city center! Unfortunately, the bastions are not protected or preserved, neither by the town nor by the country, so seeing them is reserved for the lucky tourists who happen to wander here by mistake or well-informed locals who come intentionally, usually accompanied by their furry friends. However walking paths in the Kraljevica park are well marked, and you can try your luck in hunting for the bastions or simply ask the friendly locals for help.
Zajecar was a birthplace of one of the iconic figures of the Serbian theatre - Zoran Radmilovic. The local theater nowadays carries his name, and the local people do their best to preserve the remembrance and traditions of this exciting branch of culture. There are often plays from other towns and cities from Serbia and the region.
And while you may already be convinced to visit it, with the interesting activities and places that my hometown hides, I must point out that it’s only a tip of the iceberg. Once you find yourself there, the exploring never stops. Many of the local people may have never left the place they were born, but therefore they know so much about it, that it will amaze even the most skeptic minds.
The hospitality of the local people is contagious, as they take pride in showing the visitors the best of the local history, culture, tradition, and food. And while the city tour will give you a lot to think about, a calm walk around the city center or Kraljevica perfectly completes the day. This is Zajecar, a vivid town of many stories and proud people, nice to meet you.
Photo credits © anta019
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