Sara National Park – Sar Planina Mountain

Sara National Park – Sar Planina Mountain

Sar planina – Sara Mountain -Scardus, /Serbian part/ is one of the five National Parks of Serbia. The Sar Mountain forms gigantic natural border with Republic of Macedonia, covering part of Macedonia as well. Sar-planina Mountain spreads on 39000 hectares of steep slopes of northern part of the gorgeous mountain range comprising parts of Metohija, Ošljak, Ostrovica and Kodža Balkan on the territory of Štrpce, Gora, Kačanik, Prizren and Suva Reka Municipalities in Serbia. The Sar-planina Mountain is situated in the south-western corner of the Serbian southern province of Kosovo and Metohija on territories of several municipalities – Kačanik, Štrpce, Suva reka, Prizren and Dragaš. The Sar-planina Mountain stretches between the southern part of the Kosovo Basin, the Crnoljeva and Crna Gora Mountains /Skopska Crna Gora and Kumanovo-Presevo Karadrag Mountains/, the Tetovo /Gornji Polog and Donji Polog/, and Metohia-Prizren basins, Korab Mountain /2764 meters/, Koritnik and the Ljuma region in northeast Albania. There are so many vast pastures along the numerous heighs and sides and slopes of the Sar-planina Mountain, that ‘can not be visited in a month, even on a horse’. The most significant peaks of the Sar-planina Mountain /Sharr Mt/ are Korab, Jezerce, Dzini-beg, Kobilica, Piri-beg, Livadica and Ljuboten. Šar-planina Mountain or Sar Mountain marks the beginning of a separate massif of the Dinaric Alps known as the Shar-Pindus mountain system, from Lepenac River in the east up to the Albanian border in the west, from the source of the Vardar River in the south up in Macedonia to Prizrenska Bistrica in the north.

The gorgeous Sar-planina Mountain is some 95 km long and marks the border of the Adriatic river basin and the Vardar river basin. The Šara Mountain massif and its 27 stunning glacial lakes below its numerous breathtaking peaks, among which the highest is Peskovi at 2651 meters is a perfect example of the karst mountain relief. One of the most beautiful among Šara Mountain glacial lakes is the Livadicko or the Strbacko Lake /name comes from the river which flows out from it flows further through the nearby settlement of Strpce/.

The Šara National Park features outstanding natural beauties and over 200 species of birds, among which are the bearded vulture, the gray-haired vulture, the gray eagle and grouse. Thanks to more than 1500 vascular plant species, of which about 20% are endemic and rare and relic Balkan species, the Sara National Park makes one of the most important biodiversity protected areas in the Central Balkans. The mountain range of the Šara Mountain is likewise known for its exceptionally beautiful butterflies of which there are 147 different kinds and the whole area covered with gorgeous violet flower Crocus sativus which proves that the space is extremely clean and purely intact. There are many interesting mammals to be found in the Shar Mountain, such as otters, Dinaric field wolves, Balkan wildcats (Lynx lynx balcanicus) and chamois and bears.

The Sharr Mountain – the Šar-planina is extremely cattle breeding area suitable for arable farming and fruit growing, especially noted for well-preserved tradition of sheep breeding, original customs and well organized production of cheese and dairy products. The uniquely tasty Sar cheese – the Šarski sir is one of the oldest and the most autochtonous cheeses of the Balkans, with tradition longer than 10 centuries. The intact nature and various herbs found at elevations over 1500 meters of the Sharr Mountain provide outstanding and unique flavor of this delicious cheese. The Sharr Mountain is extensive agricultural area with local population highly involved for centuries in this significant sector of the economy. The Sara Mountain is famous for a famous breed dog native to these endless mountain pastures called the Sar-planinac, celebrated for its courage, strength and liability.
Featuring its Alpine nature and colossal and gigantic mountains, centenary forests, beautiful meadows and endless pastures full with mountain flowers, medical herbs, and rare game Šara Mountain exceeds the satisfaction of its visitors. The relatively high level of precipitation and the water-resistant rocks of the Šara Mountain result in a dense network of rivers and rich number of sources and surface waters. The great number of wells, streams and springs of icy cold, clear water are a special picturesque element of this region of Serbia. The large massif of the Šara Mountain is divided by wild streams into several unique and traditional areas : Sirinicka and Sredacka Zupa, Opolje and Gora. Šar Mountain valleys of Gora, Opolje, Sredska and Sirinić are of autochthonous Serb Slavic origin and are dotted with numerous holy sites and archeologically unfortunately insufficiently explored and researched traces of human habitation dating back to Neolithic and antique times and the early Middle Ages. The authentic “Cira train” used to operate until the 70-ies of the 20th century from Kacanik Gorge to Strpce, Brezovica and Vrbetica village.

When ones goes from Prizren along the Bistrica River canyon direction Brezovica and Strpce, on the 12th kilometer there is the village of Sredska, the center of the Sredačka zhupa which contains 16 villages and hamlets where ever since lived in peace and harmony members of the Orthodoc and Muslim religion. From here, at the foot of the Sar Mountain which has been proclaimed the national park, origin numerous professors, doctors, scientists, poets, journalists. The highlanders of this area were always known as „smart“ or clear like the mountainous river of Bistrica which flows through the center of the Sredska village. However, in 1999 the Serbs of the Sredačka zhupa area had to leave their century old homes under attack of the Albanian extremists shose aim was to prosecute all Serbs from this area. A small number of the Serbs decided to stay here in their homeland under death threat. There are the Serb souls living now in the village of Mušnikovo, Drajčići and Gornje selo villages… but there are only some ten Serbs left in the Sredska village which used to be the seat of the municipality and included seven hamlets scattered along the Sar mountain slopes. Although life in this mountainous area is extremely difficult, and safety nearly does not exist, some 120 Serbs of the Sredacka zhupa area do not want to leave their homeland. Their main concern is fact that they are forgotten by all, and rarely some politician remembers to visit them and offer any help. They are encouraged by the fact that on the other side of the Sar Mountain there is the Sirinićka župa – the Sirinic zhupe where live over 12000 Serbs. There are only few locals who left Strpce which is center of the Sirinic zhupa. There are some people who found rescue in the small town of Štrpce who escaped from Prizren, Urosevac, Pristina and other parts of Kosovo and Metohija who did not want to leave their homeland. Since 1999 Strpce became place that is daily visited by the Serbs of the Sredacka zhupa, who come to this small town for supplies, to get their pensions, pay the bills, go to the market. They say that the Serbs will remain in the Sredacka zhupa until there are the Serbs in the Sirinic zjupa. They remained here to protect together their beautiful Sar Planina Mountain and the beauty of Brezovica.

The Nerodimka mountain is just a few km north of the Sar Mountains, only split by the Sirinić Valley. Sirinićka Župa area is located in the valley or the upper course of the Lepenac River, northeast of the Shar Mountain, in the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. Nerodimka River forms a continuous range with mountains of Sar Planina Mountains and Jezerska Planina Mountain. In the Nerodimka mountain originates the Nerodimka River, whose bifurcation phenomenon represents the only single example in Europe, featuring branches flowing into two seas – The Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. Nerodimlje, where there was the palace already existed in the 6th century was the center of the Serbian Medieval Nerodimlje Valley – župa, with Gornje and Donje Nerodimlje villages, and numerous Medieval monuments of culture of great significance, among which are the ruins of the Medieval fortified town of Petric. The four Medieval residences of the Serbian Kingdom – Nerodimlja /or Porodimlja/, Pauni, Svrcin and Stimlja were concentrated in the foot of the Sar Mountain in the 14th century, along the shore and on the island of the lake which once covered the south part of Kosovo. Serbian royal court of Pauni, which was mentioned in the 11th century documents, was located on the lake shore, few kilometers north of Nerodimlja village, about 7 km west of Petric fort. “Serbian holy sites and monuments of culture in the Sar planina Mountain, Prizren and the surrounding region of extraordinary significance include the following: Prizren – the Monastery of the Holy Archangels, the Chapel of Saint Lazarus of four Days, the Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, the Chapel of Saint Nikolaj of Zica, and the Church of Saint Nicholas; in Prizren wider center – the Church of the Holy Virgin of Ljevis, the Paracclesion in the Seminary Saint Cyril and Methodius, the Church of the Holy Physicians /Cosmas and Damien/, the Church of Saint Kyriaki the Great Martyr, the Church of Saint George; the Church of Saint George /Runovic’s/, the Church of Saint Nicholas /Tutic’s/, the Church of Saint Nicholas /Rajko’s/, the Church of Saint Panteleon, the Church of Saint Savior; Velika Hoca – the Paracclesion of Saint Tryphon, the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, the Church of Saint Ana, the Church of the Holy Week, the Church of Saint Nicholas, the Church of Saint Elijah, the Church of Saint Apostle and Evangelist Luke, the Church of Saint Stephen; Orahovac – the Church of the Assumption of Holy Virgin Orahovac, the Church of the Holy Week Brnjaca; Novake – the Church of the Holy Physicians Cosmas and Damian; Gornja Srbica – the Church of Saing Basil the Great; Zociste – the Monastery of the Holy Physicians Cosmas and Damian; Sirinicka zupa – the Church of Saint Petka Berevce, the Church of Saint Stephen Brezovica, the Church of the Saint Apostles Peter and Paul Brod, the Church of Saint Demetrius Vica, the Church of Saint Elijah Vrbestica, the Church of Saint George Gornja Bitinja, the Church of Saint Nicholas Gotovusa, the Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Gotovusa, the Church of Saint Theodore Tiron Donja Bitinja, the Church of Saint Demetrius Donja Bitinja, the Church of Saint Petka Jazince, the Church of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste Drajkovac, the Church of Saint Nicholas Sevce, the Church of Saint Archangel Michael Sevce, the Church of Saint John Strpce, the Church of Saint Nicholas Strpce; Sredacka zupa – the Church of Saint Nicholas Bogosevce, the Church of Saint George Gornje Selo, the Church of Holy Week Zivinjane, the Church of Saint Nicholas Drajcici, the Church of Saint Elijah Lokvica, the Church of Saint John Lokvica, the Church of Saint Apostles Peter and Paul Musnikovo, the Church of Saint George Milacici, the Church of Saint Nicholas Musnikovo, the Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Pejcici, the Church of Birth of the Holy Virgin Panjane and the Church of Saint Nicholas Sredska.” Aleksandra Novakov – Serbian Holy Sites in the Sara Mountains, Prizren and surrounding region.

After comprehensive research it is suggested to extend the borders of the unique mountainous Shar Mountain massif and the National Park of the Central Balkan Peninsula to the surface of 70000 hectares covering areas of both Serbia and Macedonia.

Dejan Pavlović: “From elevation of 1860 meters and road on the western slopes of the Popova šapka peak (ТТ2075, which does not have any connection with the same name mountain and ski center west of Tetovo in Macedonia) and whose range spreads from direction of the Gorani village of Restelica towards the border crossing of „Strezimir“ on the border with Macedonia, our view streches on the southwestern slopes of the Šar-planina to the Šerupska reka River whose river bed curves along the foot of the mountain peaks of Šerupa (ТТ2092) and Bušterica (ТТ1931), westward to the border with Albania, while in the north is the Kruševačka planina (ТТ1882 and ТТ2048), on whose western slope on some altitude of 1800 meters direction the river, a solitude pine lives for more than 60 years !!! The rocky peak is Kalabak (ТТ2174), whose left western slope belongs to Albania.

The Ebiski potok stream joins the Suva reka River at 1683 meters whose source is located in the high rocky area of the Serupska planina Mountain, so under the name of Šerupska reka River, it continues for next 2 kilometers by remains of the former summer border wathtower /caraula „Šara“ on its left bank, and further curves along its course, making very beautiful meanders !!

On the peak level of 1469 at the foot of the Bušterica Mountain, the mountain stream joins the Šerupska reka River that comes from the northeast, originated from several dozens of small streams that come from the slopes of the Šištevačka and Globočka mountains, and from there, under the name of Čajlanska reka Rver, beneath the area of Beli kamen and the foot of the Kalabak, by the former GK D23, it continues its course through the Albanian territory where it later joins the Crni Drim River which ends in the northeast of Albania by joining with the Beli Drim River in the town of Kukes !!!”

Thanks to its fantastic ski terrains and Alpine climate the challenging Brezovica Ski Center is similar to famous European Tourist Centers and is considered to have some of the best, longest and highest ski runs in Europe. Brezovica Ski Center is famous tourist resort on the north-western side of Šara Mountain /Štrpce Municipality/ and unique sport-recreation complex at the altitude between 900 and 2.500 meters, where snow remains for 280 days. Brezovica is about 60 km away from Pristina and Skopje /Macedonia/, 303 km from Thessaloniki, 355 from Sofia /via Nis/ and about 400 km away from Belgrade. Large number of springs and streams with cold and clear water provide colorful scenery of Brezovica. Convenient climate conditions make Brezovica premium destination for winter, sport and recreational tourism, visited by guests throughout the year. Vast ski terrains of the Inex Ski Center Brezovica enable system of 5 tracks and 5 ski-lifts that are mutually connects 16 km of ski tracks of the average length of 3000 meters each. About 50000 skiers can ski at the same time on ski terrains of Brezovica on FIS Slalom tracks, and grand Slalom, and “super G”. Structure of snow is so to enable fast skiing but safe skiing. Numerous successfully held competitions of State and International lever rank Brezovica Inex Ski Center amongst internationally recognized competition Centers. Numerous sport teams realize their summer trainings on Brezovica thanks to ideal height conditions since lower parts of mountain features true mild climate with pleasant warmth and fresh nights.

The Šara National Park is rich in diversified cultural heritage that is exceptionally significant for the Serbian history and identity. Besides the Medieval fortifications, settlements and bridges of the Sar-planina Mountain, unique attractions are 34 Medieval Orthodox Monasteries of which there are ascetic cell and St. Peter’s Monastery in Korisa village and Saint Archangels Monastery close to Prizren, having been the former Visegrad strongholds at the foothill of the “Tzar Mountain”. Preservation of the cultural and natural heritage of Šara Mountain during the NATO aggression and conflicts in Kosovo Province is the ultimate aim drawing attention of numerous scientists from Serbia and abroad. Prokletije and Šar-planina Mountains are recommended for the Balkans Peace Park Project, which will include the fantastic natural setting with mountain ranges and peaks up to 2693 m high, like Jezerce in Albania, Gjeravica in Kosovo – 2656 m and Karanfil – 2480 m at the Montenegrin border.

‘The day at Sharr mountain was incredible and the girls in national costume were delightful – it was also a bonus to see all the school children in their outfits and smiling so much at us. PS Hope you enjoyed the photos. Regards,  Merilyn – Australia’

Goranci – plural of Gorani people are ethnic community of the Serb origin and specific identity in the Gora area whose origins corelate with the present territory between Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia. There are 9 Gorani villages in Albania, and 2 villages in Macedonia. There are 7000 do 10000 Gorani people living on this territory, and in Serbia and diaspora total of some 60.000 Gorani people. Origin of the Gorani people is connected with the old Serbian settlements on the territory of Sar-planina Mountain, which spread in its central part during the Serbian Medieval State. Thanks to their loyalty, diligence and dedicated work customs, Gorani people were granted special privileges from Tsar Dusan. After fall of the Serbian lands under the Ottoman rule, Gorani people were last to convert to Islam, after long resistance to pressures and tribute obligations to conquerors. Beginning of islamization process of the Gorani people date to the 16th century, and was performed in small or large intensity. Yet, until the middle of the 19th century there were Orthodox Gorani people living in the Gora area. Besides the Brod village, the Gorani people live in 18 more villages on the Serbian side of the Sar-planina Mountain. The Gorani people consider their language “našinski or našenski” or Gorani language, which is closest to the modern Serbian language and the Prizren-Timok dialect, or the Old-Stokav Serbian language with particular specificity, localities, loans from the Turkish and archaic words.

Goranci people as the ethnic group are specific by numerous issues who got their names after the georgaphic name of Gora on the Sar Mountain where they live in the 19 villages. The Municipality of Gora exists from 1990 as per decision of the Parliament of Serbia.  Goranci people speak the specific dialect, so-called the Gorani language that is the Old-slavonic language which was learned at the famous Prizren Seminary that was burnt to the ground in 1990. Gorani people are specific in language they speak and customs they perform, but also celebrate the Christmas, Mitrovdan – the Saint Demetrius day and Djurdjevdan – Saint George day, but as muslims which they do not hide, they also celebrate Bayram and Kurban-bayram and go to the mosque for prayer.

UNESCO Heritage Serbia with Kosovo and Metohija 1

Kosovo and Metohija Tour 1

Kosovo and Metohija Off the Beaten Track

Kosovo and Metohija Tour 2

South Balkans Tour