Is this really the jewel of Serbia?

The north of Serbia is mainly devoted to farmland but one national park, known as ‘the jewel of Serbia’ can be found in the region. But is it worth it?

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has travelled the world full time since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.

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Fruska Gora National Park, Serbia

After so much city talk, it’s time to look to the Serbian countryside. Here in the north, the lands are flat. I noticed it first arriving on the train from Hungary, the squares of crops leading to the horizon.

This is Serbia’s farming heartland with fields of maize, wheat and sunflowers. This time of year, farmers are particularly focusing on raspberries and plums – things Serbia is the second-largest producer of in the world.

But the north of Serbia has one national park annexed from the agriculture. Fruska Gora National Park.

Fruska Gora National Park, Serbia

It’s known as ‘the jewel of Serbia’, a glittering gem amongst the fields of labour around it. At the centre is a mountain – uncommon in this part of the country but not unique in that there are many further south.

I tend to think that the further down you go in Serbia, the more picturesque the landscapes become, but everything is relative so, for those who live in this region, Fruska Gora is worshipped like a precious gem.

Certainly those of faith knew the beauty of this area. Fruska Gora is home to more than a dozen monasteries, some possibly founded as early as the twelfth century (although there is little physical evidence of that).

Fruska Gora National Park, Serbia
Fruska Gora National Park, Serbia

I come across one early in the day hike I have embarked on. Setting off from the city of Novi Sad, I catch the bus to the town of Beocin in the foothills of the national park.

About twenty minutes after I leave the houses and oddly-large number of minimarts of the town, I come across the monastery.

Surrounded by forest, it is tranquil and reflects an air of quiet reflection.

A few people are working in the small farm adjacent to it and a man, appropriately protected in a netted suit, is tending to a large collection of beehives.

Fruska Gora National Park, Serbia

Another man walks out of the monastery towards me as I’m taking photos. When he gets close enough I try to engage and say how pretty I think the building is and that I’m Australian.

He gives me a sympathetic smile and walks past. He is heading for his car out on the road and doesn’t care either way that I am here.

In response, I take a few more pictures.

Fruska Gora National Park, Serbia
Fruska Gora National Park, Serbia

I walk on, though, for it is the forest which interests me today. For several hours I trek up towards the top of the mountain, following a dirt road.

Birds make their presence known through their songs and just occasionally through an appearance. The insects also let me know they are here by their buzzing and the bites on my legs.

Although I only get bitten when I stop for a rest and it’s incentive enough to keep trudging uphill.

Fruska Gora National Park, Serbia

Eventually it’s time to turn around so I can make it back to Beocin to get the return bus. But I feel like I’ve missed something.

I haven’t made it to a peak – or even a decent viewpoint. This area has been a pleasant walk but nothing special. Certainly nothing that deserves to be called ‘a jewel’.

But perhaps my problem was that I didn’t go to the right parts. Or perhaps the problem was that there was no information about where the right parts were.

Fruska Gora National Park, Serbia
Fruska Gora National Park, Serbia

I feel like this could be an issue I will encounter again – a lack of information and access to the treasures of Serbia.

Maybe a local would have been able to hike for a day to some more scenic parts of the park. For me, though, it was a nice walk… and that’s about it.

4 thoughts on “Is this really the jewel of Serbia?”

  1. sometimes I like not researching at all to be surprised of what I can find in a place… downside though is, it will be hard to find the “more beautiful” parts of a place..

    Serbia. I must read more. I know very little about this place. ^_^

    Reply
  2. We went to Fruska Gora during the Orthodox Easter and visited one of the monasteries during the midnight mass. It was a wonderful experience.

    Reply
  3. Let’s take everything into context… 🙂

    Imagine living in a city (Novi Sad) with a quarter-million people — small, yes, but not at all insignificant — and having a freaking NATIONAL PARK with forests, hiking trails, monasteries, and fruit orchards a 20-30 minute drive away. Plus, having a rich fruit-growing region nearby means cheap, fresh produce in the city for most of the year!

    This is why Fruska Gora means a lot to the people living in Novi Sad. You’re definitely right — it’s not a place of especial interest to tourists (though there are some truly lovely parts). But for locals, as you said, Fruska Gora means a lot. Whoever wrote the travel info was probably from Novi Sad 😉

    The fact that you couldn’t find more details about the plae makes me want to bang my head against the wall — shame on us! Thankfully, Novi Sad will become a European Capital of Culture in 2021, which means funds for urban regeneration flowing in… hopefully, they take the opportunity to make info about the area better-known to tourists. I enjoyed the article, and hope you visit us again someday!

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Milena. You make a really good point. I sometimes make the mistake of looking at this from an international perspective when, actually, what’s also really important is how the national park fits into the local region. I’m so pleased to hear that locally there’s a lot of love for the park. And, yeah, maybe it was someone from Novi Sad who wrote that description. If so, good on them! 🙂

      Reply

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