Lovefest is one of the biggest festivals in all of Europe. Taking place August 4-6th, this year marks the 15th anniversary, so there will be music across five stages from more than 100 DJs and live acts in total including the likes of Marco Carola, Joseph Capriati, Jamie Jones, Kölsch, Rødhåd, Folamour, Danny Tenaglia, DVS1, Mendel, Rick Wilhite, Paquita Gordon, Esa, Zenker Brothers, Zerne and many more.
As well as the music, you can look forward to the highest quality entertainment, numerous accompanying programmes and projects and more to mark this spectacular jubilee. Of course, it all comes with famously epic stage designs and world class production with a super amiable crowd from all over Europe.
Though a gathering of music lovers, Lovefest offers so much more than just dancing by way of its storied location, Vrnjačka Banja, which is steeped in culture and history.
Check out some Vrnjačka Banja must-dos and must-sees.
Welcome to Vrnjačka Banja
In the rolling hills of Central Serbia sits the idyllic spa town of Vrnjacka Banja, harmoniously balanced in its beautiful natural surroundings. Come to soak in waters that have been known for their curative properties since Roman times, where in the 19th century Prince Milos built a spa to rival the greatest spas in Europe, naturally followed by the aristocratic class building their stunning vacation villas… In the areas surrounding Vrnjacka Banja you can also find centuries-old vineyards and a tradition of winemaking that stretches through generations, quaint villages where life is being preserved in its rural state, and the 12th and 13th century monasteries of Studenica and Zica, the endowments of the long-ago Serbian kings.
Today Vrnjacka Banja is a well-developed tourist destination, popular among domestic and foreign guests seeking spa treatments or a relaxing getaway in the countryside. Many hotels and restaurants cater to the needs of spa guests, delivering excellent service and accommodation.
First established as a tourist spa in 1868, Vrnjacka Banja has long been known as one of Serbia’s most popular European-styled spas, complete with curative mineral water springs, clean air and natural beauty. Its stunning location provides a unique microclimate, which has led to the development of lush landscaped grounds that provide an oasis of tranquillity and beauty for guests to enjoy and relax.
Vrnjacka Banja – Location
Vrnjacka Banja is 200 km south of Belgrade in Central Serbia, set amongst the foothills of Goč Mountain to the south, east and west, and the Gledićke Mountain range to the north. Besides Goč (1,147m) and Kopaonik (2,017m), there are also the mountains of Željin (1,785m), Jastrebac (1,492m) and Stolovi (1,375m). The mountain area of Vrnjacka Banja is interlaced with green meadows and mountain streams that lead into the Zapadna Morava River. The rivers of Ibar on the west and Rasina to the east surround the spa’s idyllic setting.
Vrnjacka Banja – History
The beneficial effects of the Vrnjacka Banja spa’s springs have been known since the beginning of Christianity and a second century Roman Well can still be found on the site. The spa was upgraded in 1835 on the orders of Prince Miloš, who wanted the spa to rival the famous Czech spa at Karlovy Vary. In 1860 the spa saw further development with the opening of the first pool and apartments.
Vrnjacka Banja – Culture
Vrnjačka Banja and the nearby cities of Aleksandrovac and Trstenik are not only rich in nature, but also in culture. The region sits on the historic borders of empires and strategically important communication lines that have left many lasting influences such as historic monuments and centuries-old monasteries.
Belimarković Castle was the 19th century summer home of the influential General Jovan Belimarković, young King Aleksandar Obrenović’s appointee prior to his coming of age. The castle, modelled after North Italian and Polish castles of the day, is Vrnjačka Banja’s oldest and most recognizable building. The Belimarković family lived in the castle until 1968, when it was purchased by the state and placed under its protection. It currently houses a museum with collections of archeological, ethnographic, historical, art and natural objects. The galleries of the museum containing original objects left to it by the Belimarković family offer an excellent opportunity to view both gilded and common Serbian life at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, while the art collection holds graphics, paintings and sculptures from the second half of the 20th century. Besides the museum, Belimarković Castle hosts chamber music concerts, theatrical presentations, lectures, summer schools and symposiums.
Bridge of Love
Most Ljubavi (English: Bridge of Love) is a pedestrian bridge in Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia. It is known as the earliest mention of the love padlocks tradition, where padlocks are left on the bridge railing by couples as a sign of their everlasting love. It is one of the famous landmarks of Vrnjačka Banja, and it is the best known among the town’s 15 bridges.
The history of love padlocks on this bridge dates back at least 100 years. Local schoolmistress Nada fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja. After they committed to each other, Relja went to war in Greece, where, after the collapse of the Serbian Front as a result of the Austro-Hungarian attack of the 6 October 1915, he fell in love with a local woman from Corfu. As a consequence, Relja and Nada broke up their engagement.
Nada never recovered from that devastating blow, and after some time, she died, as a result of her unfortunate love. As young girls from Vrnjačka Banja wanted to protect their own loves, they started writing down their names together with the names of their loved ones on padlocks. They bound these to the railings of the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet. However, the tradition died out with time. It was not until Serbian writer and poet Desanka Maksimović wrote down a poem called A Prayer for Love, (Serbian: Molitva za ljubav) that the legend regained popularity. People started once again to bind their love with so-called “love padlocks” to the bridge. Consequently, it acquired the name Bridge of Love. After people bind their love with a padlock to the railing, the keys should be thrown down into the river below, so they cannot be found ever again.
The underground tunnel, which dates back to the time of the Second World War, after almost 80 years, will be open for visitors. It is a tunnel located under the famous summer stage.
The new tourist attraction will be 130 metres long, enriched with contents from the history of this place. After the reconstruction, visitors will have the opportunity to see the development of the spa from the Roman period, through the Turkish and German occupation, to the present day, thanks to the exhibited models and objects. Numerous weapons, cannons, rifles, crossbows, tools, armour, body armour, German and partisan uniforms, as well as various objects found during archeological excavations will be seen in these exhibition spaces.
The tunnel was planned to be a shelter for the German General Staff for Southeast Europe. The excavation began in 1942, and was led by General Aleksandar Ler, commander of German troops in the Balkans and Southeast Europe, leader of the Drvar landing and Operation ”Konjicev skok”, and commander of the April 6 bombing of Belgrade. It is interesting that the tunnel was broken only in 1944, after a year and a half, when the two teams met in the middle of the Church Hill, digging on both sides at the same time. There are seven rooms in the tunnel. The second branch of the tunnel started in the direction of the market on one side, and from the villa “Peć” on the other side, was not completed.
Vrnjacka Banja is home to hot and cold-water mineral springs, which are rich in natural minerals used for rejuvenating both the body and soul. It is also home to the world’s only hot spring measuring exactly that of the human body (36.5 degrees Celsius). Vrnjačka Banja has five springs, which are divided into two categories of medicinal mineral waters: hot (36.5 degrees Celsius), carbon-acidic homeo-thermal and cold (14-27 degrees Celsius), alkaline, earth alkaline and carbon-acidic.
Vrnjacka Banja has 7 known sources of mineral waters, as follows:
“Topla voda” – located in the central spa centre,
“Sneznik” – is located in the zone of the Vrnjacka river,
“Slatina” – in the area of the Lipovacka river,
“Jezero” – spa park halfway “Sneznik” – “Slatina”,
“Beli Izvor” – near the mouth of the Lipovacka stream into the Lipovacka river,
“Borjak” – a spring 700 m away from “Sneznik” upstream along the Vrnjacka riverbed
“Vrnjacka Vrelo” is located halfway between the main road Kraljevo – Krusevac.
Of the already mentioned sources for balneological therapy, four are used: “Hot water”, “Sneznik”, “Slatina” and “Jezero”, while two are bottled as table mineral waters (Voda Vrnjci and Vrnjacko Vrelo).
The highly respected Merkur Institute offers spa and health treatments for prevention and rehabilitation in its extensive thermal baths and wellness centre, and now in its newly-opened aqua centre. This modern facility specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of internal ailments, including digestive disorders and diabetes. Facilities at the institute include mineral baths and pools, saunas and a range of massage treatments.
Vrnjacka Banja – Nature
The natural surrounding of Vrnjačka Banja includes wooded mountain slopes, meadows and pastures rich in wild flowers and herbs, and many types of wild animals and birds. The many parks and trails at Vrnjačka Banja are an ideal setting for walking, hiking and or simply relaxing outdoors.
Goč is rich in diverse flora created through the combination of an ideal climate and fertile land. Slopes are covered with thick beech and evergreen forests, vineyards, plum orchards and raspberry patches. Outdoor activities include hiking, walking, fishing, collecting forest fruits and many species of herbs, picnicking or trips to roadside stands selling local delicacies.
Vrnjačka Banja offers much in the way of outdoor activities, ranging from light activities to intense workouts in beautiful natural surroundings. Active locals and adventurous tourists take part in summer recreation such as cycling and mountain biking, hiking and walking, river rafting, mountaineering and fishing. In winter months cross country skiers enjoy the many local trails, while downhill skiers and snowboarders can make the short trip to one of Serbia’s premier ski resorts, Mt. Kopaonik.