Kraljevo – “The town of kings”

Settled in the heart of Shumadija, Kraljevo is one of the most beautiful towns in this part of the Balkan Peninsula. The center itself is not very big but Kraljevo has got huge and important history and importance for the entire country.

It lies on three rivers- the Ibar, the Morava (the West Morava) and the Ribnica River. It is settled in Rashka district. “The town of kings” as people here like to call Kraljevo is one place you should most certainly visit if you ever come into this part of Serbia. The entire country is beautiful, rich in untouched nature on one side and crowded cities with great night life on the other, but this part of the country is something special.

Kraljevo has always been some kind of a crossroad of many different conquerors and today of many important main roads.

Kraljevo center

The name

The name itself tells a lot about this city. The town changed its name several times throughout the history. The first name of Kraljevo was Rudo Polje. Later, during the rule of the prince (this title is called “knez” in Serbian) Milan Obrenovic  it was called Karanovac. When he was proclaimed a king, in 1882, the city was called Kraljevo-in his honor. The city kept this name until 1949, when it was called Rankovicevo-in honor of Aleksandar Rankovic who was the Minister of the Internal Affairs of Yugoslavia then. Kraljevo kept the name Rankovicevo until 1955 when it has got its final name – Kraljevo.

This name is symbolic. It refers to kings. There is a monastery near Kraljevo (only a few kilometers from the town center) called Zica. Seven Serbian kings were crowned in this monastery and its importance and significance for Serbian people is enormous.

Position of the town

Kraljevo is settled in Central Serbia on the basin of the River Ibar into the West Morava River. The third biggest river is the Ribnica. The Ibar is a fast river through almost all its course. Few kilometers before it merges with the West Morava River, the flow of the Ibar simmers down. On the other hand, the Morava is huge, but peaceful river. Both rivers are used for bathing, swimming and resting by many people in hot summer days. Fishing is also very popular since these rivers are rich in different kinds of fish.

The city of Kraljevo consists of the city center and many other settlements. Counting all these settlements, Kraljevo is the largest municipalty (by area) in Serbia.

It’s surrounded by mountains.  Goch and Stolovi which are very attractive are just some of them. In the mountain Stolovi you can see wild horses and enjoy untouched nature. Here, you can enjoy all four seasons.

Coat of arms

The city’s got its coat of arms. It’s consisted of seven crowns- the symbol of seven kings that were crowned in Zica monastery.

The main symbol of the city, if you ask people, is the monument dedicated to the Serbian warriors died from 1912-1918 popularly called “Milutin”.

History of the city

Throughout the long course of history that Serbia went through, the city of Kraljevo was no exception. Greeks and Romans left its influence.

The “lower part” of the River Ibar was the oldest politically and socially active place in the Middle Ages. Numerous monasteries surround the city. Besides Zica which we already mentioned there are Studenica monastery (foundation of Stefan Nemanja), then Ljubostinja, Gradac and others.

Near Kraljevo, in Ibar valley, there is a medieval town called Maglich. It was founded in the 14th century. It represents the monument of Serbian history from this period.

medieval town Maglich

The town was affected by all wars and battles led in this part of the world. It was conquered by Turks, burned during The First Serbian Uprising, battlefield of fights in the Second World War. In October 1941, German army carried out mass shooting. The first hostages were taken on the fourteenth of October, and in the night between fifteenth and sixteenth, 1736 was shot. There is a park in Kraljevo called Memorial Park (Spomen Park in Serbian) raised in gratitude to the victims.

Leisure time

I have to tell you there are so many things you can do in Kraljevo. It may look small but it’s definitely fun place.

If you are fan of a night life, there are many nightclubs, cafés and restaurants. One of the most famous is “Passage”, with live music from Thursday to Sunday. In hot summer days you can visit one of rafts placed on the Ibar River. Kraljevo has got rich nightlife but it’s crowded in every part of the day. In the central street-Omladinska street, you can enjoy many cafés. People here love to hang out, talk, and are very friendly.

If, on the other hand, you like spa you will find many resort near the city center. Some of them are Mataruska spa, Bogutovacka spa or Sircanska spa. There are others as well, but these are the most famous.

Also, as previously mentioned there are numerous monasteries and churches such as Zica, Studenica, St.Petka Church and others.

Monastery Zica
Monastery Zica

There are also many historical and cultural monuments, the medieval town Maglich, Cultural center Vladika Nikolaj Velimirovic, Public Museum, Public Library Stefan Prvovencani, and others. The biggest cultural event is “Preobrazenje”- Zica spiritual convocation.

“Veseli Spust” (“Happy downhill”)

Definitely, one of the most famous events in Kraljevo is “Veseli Spust”. This event is organized every year, on the first weekend in July. People from all parts of the country but also from different parts of Europe come to this event.

People go down the river Ibar. The race starts under the medieval town Maglich on early Sunday morning and when all the participators go down the river till they reach the Ibar Bridge in Kraljevo. The party usually starts on Saturday although many people come on Friday evening and ends with the race. There is no reward here, it’s all pure fun. Different people, nations, ages, religions come to Kraljevo and enjoy nature, fresh air and good party. Rafts, small boats, people who go down the river in tractor tires, great time, and great party. The night before the “Spust”, there is always a party in the right center of Kraljevo.

Cuisine

Like everywhere in Serbia if nothing else you’ll get a good, decent meal. All sorts of meat, especially pork are famous. Delicious barbecue is available in restaurants as well as in fast food restaurants. In suburb or countryside you’ll find homemade cheese, milk, and kaymak, cow or goat, it’s up to you. Different types of pies, especially cheese pie and apple pie are famous around here.

I dare to say you can find everything here since people in this part of the world enjoy food and drink. You won’t leave anyone’s home hungry or thirsty and something for the road, just to grab a bite on the way.

Kraljevo is the town you shouldn’t skip if you take the tour around Serbia. Mixture of reach history, good people, party and good food- that’s what Kraljevo is. Welcome!

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