My never-ending quest to uncover the beauty of Serbia has recently led me to a spa town called Vrnjačka Banja, where I spent 3 days immersing both mind and soul in the bountiful nature. Geographically the town is located 200km south of Belgrade, in the south-central region called Raška (the centre of the Serbian Kingdom in the Middle Ages).
Of all the spa towns located around my beautiful country, Vrnjačka Banja is the largest, most well-known, and most visited. Its natural mineral springs were first discovered in the second century by Roman soldiers, who knew the power of healing waters. Prince Miloš Obrenović recognized the value of these miraculous waters and commissioned Czech Baron Herder to upgrade the town in the 1800’s.
Seven mineral springs are scattered around the town which are used for medical treatment, due to their rich mineral count and ideal temperatures (ranging from 17 C to 36.5 C). Patients suffering from illnesses including: diabetes, kidney and other internal organ failure, arthritis, and infertility come from all over the Balkans to find tranquility and healing in this oasis. “Rimski Izvor” (translation: roman spring) is the largest spa centre in the town and offers every type of treatment for illnesses, or simply a place for those who wish to relax and enjoy cosmetic treatments. The largest spring “Topla Voda” (translation: warm water), located directly in the city centre is named for its warm temperature of 36.5 C. It brought a smile to my face seeing so many elders enjoying the facilities and filling up countless bottles with the magical water.
The town has an impressive park with a promenade and trails extending 2km. Through floral colours, shades and contrasts, visitors can relax and heal, as they immerse in the thousands of varieties of rare and and exotic plants. The towering trees offer a wonderful play on light and shadow, while the scent of linden and full bloom roses, and chirping of birds, create a sensational effect on every sense, and is the ideal place to establish a body and mind balance.
Walking through the park, I fully immersed myself in nature as I admired the changing colours of the leaves, signalling a change of season and the official end of summer. There is something so magical about watching leaves turn brown as we enter into Autumn … hot chocolate season is starting! The park offers beautiful pathways for walking, running and biking which I highly recommend, as they are located next to a flowing river, giving visitors an added benefit of optimal relaxation.
At the centre of the park, cafes are lined up offering all kinds of refreshments and cuisine, something to suit everyone’s taste. A giant sparrow named Gočko, dressed in a traditional Central Serbian šajkača and opanke (picture below will explain), who is the town’s mascot welcomes everyone and is a great spot for photographs. The promenade is also laced with souvenir shops offering generic items such as magnets and traditional items such as dried lavender sacks, licitarsko srce (sweet heart, see photo below), handmade wool clothes, homemade honey and of course padlocks for the famous love bridge. As a hopeless romantic, I always find any kind of love story magical. The town’s “Most Ljubavi” (translation: bridge of love), is a charming version of the love bridge in Paris. The legend in this town talks about Nada, a teacher, and Relja an army officer who were madly in love and committed to each other – a love which caught the attention of all the citizens in the town. The army officer was sent to Greece to fight in the first World War where he fell in love with a Greek lady and never returned to Nada, who eventually died of a broken heart. Girls from all over the country come to this bridge with initials on their paddlocks, “locking their love” on the bridge for eternity, in order to avoid the same fate as Nada.
On Valentine’s Day, the town is transformed into a love bubble, as couples expressing their love, immerse themselves in the beautiful natural surroundings. The town is decorated with heart shaped balloons, souvenir shops explode with sweet hearts, and traditional “fijaker” (translation: horse carriage) is a popular choice for couples to enjoy the special day. Another cute tradition is the “Poljubi Me” (translation: kiss me) competition where couples compete for the longest kiss. The longest record is 101 minutes 🙂
Although the town is most well known for its healing waters, visitors can also admire the most beautiful medieval villas built on the hillside of the park. The surrounding area is also filled with centuries-old vineyards, monasteries and Goč mountain, which is a popular ski resort during the winter months. As for accommodation, the town is filled with hotels offering every type of wellness package and spa treatment. I stayed at the Solaris Resort, where I enjoyed a three hour daily pass to facilities including: Turkish Hammam, Roman Caldarium, relaxing Tepidarium, aunas, and my favourite salt cave – did you know that a forty minutes treatment replaces four days at the seaside? That’s the incredible effect of natural mineral salt 🙂
With a colourful kaleidoscope of nature and healing mineral waters, Vrnjačka Banja is truly an ideal place to restore one’s balance in a tranquil oasis.
For more pictures, please enjoy right here!
- Official website: www.vrnjackabanja.co.rs/srpski/
- Tourism website: http://www.ivrnjackabanja.com/