Winner in the ‘Health and wellbeing tourism’ category
In the south of Serbia, Kuršumlija is a small municipality with a preserved oasis of nature, grasslands, hills and volcanic geysers underneath which are warm springs of medicinal mineral waters. Kuršumlija, with its three rivers (Toplica, Banjska, and Kosanica), three spas (Prolom, Lukovska, and Kuršumlijska) and a unique geomorphological phenomenon (Devil’s town), is a great place to escape from the city and rest in nature. In addition to the natural beauties of Radan and the sub-bathing area, Kuršumlija boasts a rich cultural and historical heritage (about 70 churches, two medieval monasteries, towers) that justifies its epithet ‘ideal’.
What makes Kuršumlija special
Kuršumlija - a place where great contrasts are encountered - medieval monasteries, natural miracles materialising in the form of stone towers (Devil’s town) and numerous springs of warm, mineral and medicinal waters (Prolom, Lukovska and Kuršumlija Spa).
Health and wellbeing tourism
This destination is exceptional in health and wellness tourism for many reasons: healing natural factors in Lukovska Banja (water, mud, gas, and climate) and Prolom spa (Prolom water, mud, climate), modern wellness centres, beneficial health paths, modern treatments (weekends and public holidays), 24/7 medical supervision, professional staff. Untouched nature, clean mountain air, distant from major city centres, authentic health trails, the hospitality of the locals, kind people and treatments based on healing factors are just some of the reasons to visit.
The geomorphological phenomenon of Devil's Town, Stefan Nemanja's (founder of the ruling Nemanjić dynasty) first endowments, the thermal mineral water in Lukovska Banja, the possibility of bathing all year long, the use of Prolom water for treatments and bathing in pools filled with Prolom water, altitude, healing mud and an untouched environment influence the authentic experience.
Kuršumlija municipality also has a development plan for 2020-2027, to ensure social, cultural, and environmental sustainability.
- In the luxurious wellness centres of Prolom (with rare waters of high balneological value) and Lukovska Banja (the highest spa in Serbia, with 37 springs) naturally balance the body, mind, and spirit. In the cosy ambiance of the wellness centres, you can enjoy warm waters, medicinal mud, sauna, jacuzzi, tepidarium, salt room, steam bath, outdoor-indoor swimming pool with Finnish sauna, beauty salon, fitness room, gym and entertainment room.
- Radan for fresh mountain air, walks along the health trails, and hiking.
- On the slopes of Radan Mountain, explore Devil's town, consisting of two rare natural phenomena: peculiarly formed earth figures, and two sources of highly acidic water with high mineralization.
- The Monastery of Saint Nicholas and the Blessed Virgin date from the 12th century and represent one of the oldest monuments of monumental medieval architecture in Serbia.
Winner in the Cultural Tourism category
There are very few towns with a past as interesting as Novi Pazar in Central Serbia. After centuries of change, something has remained in it as a signpost of the history, culture, faith and customs of people that have lived there. Novi Pazar is among the youngest cities in Europe. A city of good hosts, crowds, tasty food and homemade coffee, and above all, a city of people with good hearts.
Novi Pazar, Serbian for New Bazar offers you the opportunity to learn about Christianity, but also about Islam. The ancient city of Ras, located near Novi Pazar, is considered the capital of the first Serbian medieval state. The city itself houses several significant monuments and remains from the Ottoman Empire. Novi Pazar is surrounded by the mountains Golija and Rogozno. These mountain beauties with untouched nature add to this place's special aura.
What makes Novi Pazar special?
A tour of Novi Pazar is full of surprises because the city has a rich cultural and historical heritage, a multicultural spirit and European charm. Rural wealth, good food, quality accommodation, as well as plenty of opportunities for good shopping are just some of the reasons why you should visit Novi Pazar.
Novi Pazar is an authentic destination. In one place you can find different cultures and many cultural and historical monuments from the Roman period through the Middle Ages.
There are 4 monuments in Novi Pazar that together have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are the Old town of Ras, Sopoćani monastery, Church of Holy Apostle Peter and Paul and Đurđevi Stupovi monastery.
Some of the popular events that are organised in Novi Pazar are the youth art festival, 'Sopocan Visions' art colony, 'Stari grad' music festival , 'Pazarski vinar' fair of textiles, 'Days of Diaspora', festival of handicrafts and old crafts 'Pazar na dar', and more.
- The first Serbian medieval state of Raska, formed by Stephan Nemanja. The Nemanjic Palace was located where Novi Pazar is today, which also features many monasteries and churches.
- In Peter's Church, Stefan Nemanja was baptized again and it is here that he gave his throne to his son Stefan the Firstborn. Peter's church was also the seat of the Raška episcopacy.
- Famous Turkish military commander Isa Beg Ishakovic laid the foundations of Novi Pazar. In the Lejlek mosque, Sultan Fatih conducted a prayer of his trip to Istanbul.
- there are 2 thermal springs, the well-known Novopazarska spa and Rajčinović spa, of which the mineral water has healing effects
Winner in the Tourism and Local Gastronomy category
Meet Pirot, with its people, kindness, culture, language and tradition. Great wealth of material and spiritual culture make this region unforgettable for visitors. Known as the 'Little Jerusalem', Pirot is famous for its kilim rugs, its local cheese, Pirot lamb, flattened sausage, folklore, local customs, handcrafts and an abundance of ethnographic art motifs hardly found anywhere else in Serbia.
Pirot is nested in the foot of Stara Planina Mountain, where the tradition of livestock breeding has been present for centuries. With sheep as the main animal, a variety of sheep-based produce has been developed, the most distinctive ones being Pirot hard cheese and flattened sausage.
Local customs related to gastronomy and intangible heritage are well preserved and can be experienced by visitors today.
- all the cultural and historical monuments, churches and monasteries, like the fortress, the Museum of Ponisavlje and archaeological sites
- the touristic events taking place throughout the year - like the Cheese Festival, the Pirot Lamb Festival, the International Folk Festival and the Traditional Pirot Fair
- the health benefits from an active vacation on Stara Planina - go hiking, hunting and fishing to enjoy they fresh mountain air and the beauty of nature.
- the magical taste of Pirot gastronomy.
Winner in the Tourism and Local Intangible Heritage category
Knjazevac is located in the eastern part of Serbia, 280km from Belgrade, between three rivers and three impressive mountains.
From far away one can recognise the peak of 'Grandma's Tooth' (Babin zub 1,785m). The highest peak of Midzor patiently waits for visitors to climb up and enjoy the beauty of the Balkan Mountains from 2,169m. There one will discover Molitvu pod Midzorom (Prayer under Midzor), a pagan event taken over by Christian traditions.
Today the local community welcomes guests in the traditional folk way, with 'belmuz' (a gastronomic speciality prepared with white corn flour and cheese), 'visnjica' (cherry wine prepared in the village of Ravna) and many types of wine prepared from local grape varieties.
Today, as part of an educational cluster, the old village school in Balta Berilovac offers attractive programmes and experiences for kids and young people. Knjazevac invites those who are interested in learning more to the village of Ravna to attend the pottery workshop, research the archaeo-ethno park and imagine the life of Romans in the fort of Timacum Minus.
Climbing the peak of Midzor is an activity for both beginners and experienced hikers. First time visitors should join a guided group, to be sure to experience the most impressive landscapes of the region.
For those who prefer to stay at the foot of the mountain, there are activities like preparing 'belmuz' (a specific food of the region, prepared with white corn flour and cheese), competing in the shepherds games, knitting the 'dvopredjne carape' socks or tasting the gastronomic specialities of the region, prepared by local women.
Leaving behind the adventures offered on or around the mountain, you can discover the spiritual and natural heritage of the destination: churches of St. Djordje and Holy Virgin, Holy Trinity Monastery, Timakum minus Roman locality and the Archaeo-ethno park in the village of Ravna.
- the Rgoska Banja Spa in the village of Rgoska, with the remains of a Roman bath
- the Djurdjevdanski susreti - Molitva pod Midzorom (St. George’s Day Gatherings – Prayer under Midzor), established in 2000 as touristic-trade manifestation, featuring folklore elements
- the FKMS – Festival kulture mladih Srbije (Festival of Serbian Youth Culture)