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Top 10 Archeological Sites in Serbia

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Top 10 Archeological Sites in Serbia

Standing at the crossroads of Europe and Asia as well as the Mediterranean and Central Europe, Serbia boasts a rich archeological heritage. As a territory on which no less than 16 Roman emperors were born there are plenty of ancient Roman sights around. Next in prominence are the Mesolithic and Neolithic sites with important finds from Europe’s first civilizations. Medieval sights are, unfortunately, not that numerous or attractive so none of them made it on our list, but you will have a chance to see a lot from that time period in Serbian museums, of which Museum of Vojvodina standing at the fifth place of our list is a great representative.

 

 

1. Lepenski Vir

This prehistoric site is a fascinating place by any standard, one that would deserve a visit even if it stood isolated or out of the beaten path. Quite the contrary, it lies in the beautiful and terrifying Iron Gates Gorge and is easy to combine with lots of other attractions. The Danube, canyon’s sheer rocks and deep forest make a perfect backdrop for getting acquainted with this mysterious spot and its ancient inhabitants. No less than 9000 years ago (yes, you read it right) this was one of the most advanced civilizations in the world, yet it perished and remained totally unknown until our time. Today at Lepenski Vir you can admire and explore this society’s intriguing history, the craftsmanship behind Europe’s first monumental sculptures, or perhaps learn about daily life of its inhabitants (you will be surprised!). A sight not to miss if anywhere near it.  

 

 

 

2. Viminacium  

A real treat for archeologists, Viminacium stands out from competition as the only Roman provincial capital that does not lie underneath a modern city. It’s a place you will surely hear about in future, but even what it offers now is marvelous: an altar where an emperor’s corpse was burned, a tour through rich citizens’ burial chambers, remains of a spacious baths as well as – skeletons of dozens of mammoths found on the site! All this packed in an interesting tour with fine souvenirs to go. An additional bonus is the site’s surreal setting in the shadow of a huge power plant whose coal fields are a catalyst of local archeological research.

 

3. Felix Romuliana (aka Gamzigrad)

It took a while for researchers to figure out what this huge fortified structure in the middle of nowhere was intended for. Now we know that the palace and a set of temples were built by Emperor Galerius as the place of his and his mother Romula’s divination. Quiet and picturesque, the site tells an intriguing story about the rise, megalomania and fall in late Roman times. The valuable mosaics and sculptures found there are kept in a museum in nearby Zaječar, which most tourist visit together with this site.

 

4. Niš

Present day Niš was once Roman Naissus and though the city was less important than some of its neighbors it gained eternal fame as the birthplace and, later on, summer residence of the man who changed the history of Europe - Emperor Constantine the Great. A bronze portrait of his, considered to be the most true to life, is to be seen in the Archeological Collection of the local museum, together with dozens of others of Roman artifacts, some of them pretty unique. The other site you shouldn’t miss here is Mediana, where Constantine’s villa with lots of pretty mosaics was unearthed.

 

5. Museum of Vojvodina, Novi Sad

Located in a grand old edifice right in the city center Novi Sad, the capital of Serbia’s northern province Vojvodina, this great museum has lots of things to keep lovers of archeology excited. Neolithic finds are aplenty and rich finds from the fantastic Gomolava site stretch throughout no less than six millennia and a dozen cultures, but the real stars of the collection are Roman finds. Though two thirds of Vojvodina, including Novi Sad, stayed out of the reach of the Roman Empire the finds from Srem are numerous and sometimes quite spectacular, for example the three ceremonial helmets, best preserved and most ornate in the whole wide world.

 

6. Sremska Mitrovica

This quiet town on River Sava has a history reaching back to more than two millennia. On the surface it has a pretty 19th century center plus a few more baroque monuments, but the most valuable of its historical layers is the one from late antiquity when Sirmium - as the place was called back then - became one of the four capitals of the Roman Empire. The best places to explore it nowadays are the ruins of the Imperial Palace as well as the Museum of Srem, especially its tombstones, milestones and massive sarcophagi.

7. Tabula Traiana

“Trajan’s Plaque” was a cherry atop a cake of a massive construction work of Roman Emperor Trajan. His legionaries carved a road through the perilous Iron Gates Gorge (Serb. Djerdap), the only road here for the next 1800 years! Due to the rise of the waters of the Danube this huge tablet can now be seen only from the water. On its own this fine site perhaps wouldn’t make it on this list, but bear in mind that you need to set sail and navigate the gorge to see it which is an enjoyment onto itself.

 

8. Caričin Grad  

The city of Iustiniana Prima came out of nowhere, shone intensely like a shooting star, and in less then a century - it disappeared. The favorite project of the great emperor Justinian (some deem his birthplace as well) was built from a scratch to became a fort with palaces, churches, Roman baths and an aqueduct. Almost one and a half millennia after it disappeared off the face of the earth, the archeological site of Caričin Grad is lost in rural landscape of southeast Serbia. Though not great in terms of presentation – there are tables to help you around but that’s it – it’s interesting for its solitude and a chance to have the whole of this great site for yourself.

 

9. Risovača Cave

There are plenty of caves around Serbia and many of them have been inhabited by cavemen. Yet there’s only a few that have been arranged for tourist visits. The town of Arandjelovac might be famous for its mineral water, historic commons, white marble or an aqua park, but for lovers of archeology it is known for Risovača. Inside of this pretty, medium-sized cave right outside the town, the excavations have revealed hundreds of animal bones as well finds of Paleolithic men. Well organized and fun for youngsters, the cave fits excellently with the local tourist offer. 

 

10. Pločnik

This is a rather new site (researched properly only from 1996) and it’s located in a poor corner of Serbia, but is nevertheless rather interesting for new developments including reconstructed houses of early Neolithic men, their fireplaces, looms et cetera. Next door are the excavations by which the archeologists are trying to rewrite the prehistory of Europe claiming that the Iron Age started significantly earlier than what we know now. So come and visit the place that might become the next big thing in schoolbooks!

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