It all began six thousand years BC.
Vir, on the Danube, our distant ancestors decided
to stop and think, and settle down. At this world famous
archaelogical site, stone sculptures, the first representations
of life-size human beings were discovered. Ever since
then, everything is made to order, to fit the human
beings in these parts.
We can still discern the grandeur of ancient cities
and imperial palaces, like Gamzigrad
(Romuliana), near Zajecar, or Mediana, near Nis.
The epochs lie side by side: the age
of conquest and the age of liberation, traces of rebellions
and revolutions, the times of the haves and the have-nots,
and thus, for 13 centuries, step by step, all the way
to the modern age.
From the fortifications of the past,
memories move to the museums, stories, into your impressions.
The adventure of discovering never
Cloaked in silence, hidden among the
hills and plum orchards, the monasteries and churches,
invaluable heritage of timeless beauty, were created
in Serbia from the 10th to the 17th century. Although
by the gracefulness of their outside archictecture these
churches leave an impression of smallness, it is only
on entering them that you can appreciate the monumental
stories of things earthly and things heavenly they can
tell. The eyes of the angels, of the Virgin Mary, of
the holy warriors standing their eternal watch, of princes
and princesses, of kings and queens, focus on you from
the frescoes and icons...
One of the founders of these structures,
King Milutin, left behind him forty years of reign and
the same number of churches.
What will the towers of Manasija, the
domes of Ravanica,
the rosettes of Lazarica
or the portals of Studenica
whisper to you? What were the red facades of Žića
the witnesses to? What does the sophistication of Gracanica
consist of? What about the strength of Visoki
Decani, the marble colossus of medieval architecture?
What are the messages sent to you by the treasures of
Perhaps that the answers to all these
questions can be found in the words of the French poet,
Alphonse Lamartine, who said that the history of the
Serbs should be sung, not written about.
Long ago, the oldest monument of Serb
literacy, The Miroslav Gospel (written in the 12th century),
together with other relics, found its way to the Serb
monastery of Chilandrion, on Mount Athos in Greece.
Later, it was returned to the fatherland, as a gift
to the King Aleksandar Obrenovic of Serbia. In the horrors
of World War I, it was taken all the way to Corfu in
the saddle-bags of the Serb army.
The 180 pages of carefully illustrated
parchment at last completed their journey and became
a part of the collection of the National Museum in Belgrade.
The journey of the Serb culture is not unlike this journey
of the Miroslav Gospel.
This valuable manuscript set the standards
for all later creations. The famous ancestor has famous
offsprings: Tesla’s and Pupin’s ingenuity, the thought
and the word of the Nobel laureate Ivo Andric, of Crnjanski
and Kis. The names of the world famous painters, ballet
masters of today, musical virtuosos, the choirs with
box-office success everywhere in the world, theater
and movie magicians...