It is always a pleasure to come to Valjevo, especially at dawn, when the city is just waking up, with green mountain slopes of Povlen, Maljen, Jablanik and Medvednik overlooking it.
Dear people of Valjevo, I’ve visited your city with my family, and I can say that you really have a lot to be proud of and you really know how to greet your guests!
The Beautiful Gradac Canyon
That morning we headed towards the Gradac Canyon, a popular destination of many mountaineers, trippers and nature lovers. Our starting point was the dam, the road led us upstream, and we realized right away that we were to follow one moody and mighty river.
A few small, authentic restaurants unobtrusive in appearance and made of wood fit in well with the environment. The one we chose for our morning coffee before hiking has a small park for children and a few adorable little bunnies in the yard.
Every step of the trail was pure enjoyment. The River Gradac gurgled and howled, the scent of a crisp April morning lingered in the air, and a few clouds provided just enough shade for us to admire all the beauties surrounding us.
Meadows gave way to fields and vice versa, the river kept showing and hiding its banks, only to reveal itself suddenly in all its width and might. The landscape kept changing as well being at times amiable and gentle, a meadow, a hut, and then a sudden climb up the canyon over the river because the water was still too cold to walk through.
This trail will appeal to all your senses! Be ready for numerous sensations and beautiful images which will take turns at the speed of light, you won’t have the time to admire the meadow because before you know it you will enter the forest, and then you will find yourself at the gorgeous white pebble beach, where there is also a spring. The Gradac is by the way one of the cleanest rivers in Serbia.
Along the Trail Full of Miracles
Miracles never end along this trail, and one of them is Degurić Cave from which the water rushes out and goes into the Gradac. You won’t be able to look away from this image of nature, a mighty and loud spring and you will keep looking at the rocks trying to figure out where all this water comes from.
The trail continued bringing along more excitements, there were some obstacles as well, but the effort was negligible in comparison with the pleasure every view of the river gave us as we kept climbing the rocks of the canyon, leaving the river below.
And as it always happens, just when it seemed that there would be no end and when our steps became slow and heavy due to tiredness, on our right we first saw Ćelije Monastery, and then our path led us to ethno household “Skok po skok”.
Valjevo Welcomes Us
Our hosts greeted us in the best possible way. The Gradac is tamed and friendly here, but my attention was focused on a small donkey, this sweet animal always reminds me of my childhood, a Dalmatian village and the view of proud Dinara over the River Cetina.
To spice it all up, there is a small bridge made of two trunks, safe, with a cord to hold on to while you cross it, a spirit of adventure for everyone.
I marked this spot as a lovely place for holiday. Of course, you don’t have to take to the hills to get here, there are easier ways, every man to his taste, what matters is that you are in harmony with yourself.
Monasteries of Valjevo Region
This time we saw Ćelije Monastery only from afar, through tree tops, the path led us to Lelić. As we approached the monastery, nature was more and more tame, first houses appeared, meadows with tall grass, spring with its blessings and lush vegetation in all its glory. In the monastery yard we saw the wedding party, beautiful, young, people smiling, just the right scene for the end of our trip.
I have to admit that due to tiredness I stayed in Lelić while the rest of the group headed for Jovanja Monastery across Strmna gora (505m). I am definitely not proud of it, but the week preceding the trip had been truly tiring.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the coffee in one of the restaurants as well as a short bus ride through Valjevo. I was so happy to see the Stevan Filipović Monument and other landmarks I proudly told my fellow travelers about. The perks of being friends with the women from Valjevo!
We waited for the rest of the group in the monastery yard. Jovanja left a very strong impression on me. I had the feeling that I was in a familiar place, I felt somehow close to this small and modest church with authentic interior. The yard was majestic though simple, solemn peace reigned, hugging every traveler.
At the end of this perfect day I was particularly happy to be able to hug my friend Rada and introduce her to my friends and family (aunt, cousin and maid of honor – she is also a family member). Oh, I do love Valjevo!
The road to one of my favorite mountains, Tara, over Debelo brdo, also goes through Valjevo. What can I tell you, this city is flawless!
If you haven’t done it already, discover Valjevo as soon as possible, you will be surprised! And I will be back the first chance I get.
You can read about the water mills on the Gradac here: http://pslanguagecafe.com/prica-o-domacoj-proji-i-autenticnim-srpskim-vodenicama/.
Author: Branka Tarbuk
(This text is about a hiking activity organized by mountaineering club “Železničar” from Belgrade)
Translation: Marija Đurđević