If you decide to visit Serbia and one of its region, Sumadija, and if you are keen on having a good time, food and rest, you should definitely visit the city of Valjevo.

Photo: Boksi / Wikipedia
Estuary of rivers Kolubara and Gradac in Valjevo – Photo: Boksi / Wikipedia

Valjevo is a city located in western Serbia, situated along the river Kolubara, a tributary of the Sava river, with ambient and landscape that make the city very attractive. When someone mentions Valjevo, the next association is probably the village of Petnica, where scientists found the first complete neolithic habitat in Serbia and dated it at 6,000 years of age.

While Romans were in charge, this area was a part of the province of Moesia. Valjevo was mentioned for the first time in 1393 and it was an important staging post on the trade route that connected Bosnia to Belgrade. Valjevo became an important strategic place during the 16th and 17th centuries under the Ottoman rule.

In 1804, local Serb population had rebelled against the Turkish lords and liberated a large part of Serbia. One of the causes for the revolution was the Turks killing two well-known and respected Serbian lords, Ilija Bircanin and Aleksa Nenadovic, both beheaded on the bridge over the Kolubara, which triggered the uprising.

Valjevo is also known by the battle of Kolubara, led by legendary Serbian commander Zivojin Misic, whose military tactic is studied at military colleges all over the world.

Zivojin Misic
Zivojin Misic

When it comes to what Valjevo offers today, here are some places one should really visit, such as Tesnjar, Ilovacic’s watermill, Petnica science center or the Pavilion.

Tesnjar is a bazaar, legacy remained from the Ottomans. It is a sort of a downtown, street often paved with cobble. Tesnjar is well preserved and represents one of few bazaars left and their oriental style. It follows the downstream of Kolubara, and if you find yourself in Valjevo at the end of August, you will certainly enjoy in many of the cultural manifestations which are held there.

Tesnjar - Photo from: mestokojevolim.rs
Tesnjar – Photo from: mestokojevolim.rs

Ilovacic’s watermill is one of rare watermills that still work. At first, it was out of function, but it was decided that it needs to be restored and to serve as sort of a pub. After a lot of effort and dedicated hardwork, the watermill was put in function in 1990. Engineers managed to restore it completely and even today the flour is milled. There is a saying that there is no better flour than the one made in a watermill.

Ilovacic’s watermill - Photo: TOV
Ilovacic’s watermill – Photo: TOV

The Pavilion is a small plateau on the hill Vidrak in Valjevo. There is a legend about the origin of the pavilion, which says that Marko Kraljevic sat down to rest on the top of the hill while he placed his feet in the river Kolubara. That’s why the part of this place carries the name Marko’s chair. Marko Kraljevic was Serbian hero of the Middle Ages and his power and bravery are well known. He is often regarded in poems as a hero that defends Serbian people from the evil Turks.

Photo: Predrag Vujanac
Petnica – Photo: Predrag Vujanac

Petnica Science Center (PSC) is an independent and nonprofit organization for extracurricular, formal and informal, science education located near Valjevo. PSC has organized more than 3000 programs (seminars, workshops, research camps, conferences, etc.) since its opening, for nearly 50,000 students and science teachers in 15 disciplines of science, technology and humanities, with more than 7,000 lecturers. If you go there for a cup of coffee or a decent domestic meal, you may probably stumble upon some of the future well-known scientists.

Valjevo mountain range offers clean air, medicinal herbs, forest fruits and wild game. The vicinity is kept free of industrialisation and the soil is unpolluted, so the food grown there is healthy. Hunting and fishing in the mountain rivers is common. The air-spa of Divcibare offers rest and recreation.

Divcibare - Photo from: zanimljivasrbija.com
Divcibare – Photo from: zanimljivasrbija.com

Vrujci Spa has mud baths for rheumatic diseases, as well as a hotel and sports complex with swimming pools, so Valjevo proves itself to be the gemstone of Sumadija.

Vrujci Spa
Vrujci Spa

The main economic activity in the second half of the 20th century was the arms manufacturing company Krusik, which returned to production after the wars and its armament is known worldwide. Today, the economy is characterized by small, private companies working in metallurgy, food production and textile, but some European companies are also present, such as Austrian company Austrotherm GmbH, Italian company Golden Lady and Slovenian company Gorenje which has built production facilities in Valjevo.

The most important cultural institutions are the National Museum, under whose auspices are the Museum of the First and Second Serbian Uprisings and displays in Brankovina. Other institutions include the Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments, the Historical Archive and the Town Library.

The Cultural Centre has a well-equipped stage and an auditorium with 630 seats. The Youth Centre has “Gallery 34” for exhibitions and forums. The Serbian Language and Culture Workshop offers classes in Serbian for foreigners. The Workshop tends to become the leading one in the region, so if you want to be taught Serbian well and quickly by the professionals, you should check it out.

So, Valjevo has it all – the landscapes, good people and healthy nature will make you visit this breathtaking area once again.