and its piedmont, blessed by nature, have attracted people
from time immemorial. The remains of same of their dwellings
can still be found. Historical traces of the broader region
of Kopaonik reveal Illyrian and pre-Illyrian heritage. Roman
settlements and later Slav consolidation. A few mighty fortresses,
built on wisely chosen heights, are still defying time. Many
medieval rulers had erected their memorial churches and monuments
at the foot of the mountain.
Kopaonik was an important center of the Serbian medieval states
at the time of the Nemanjic, Lazarevic and Brankovic dynasties.
The Ibar river valley, from Zvecan to the Zapadna Morava River,
was mentioned as the upa in the documents of Stefan
Nemanja and his son Stefan Prvovencani (12th and 13th centuries).
The mineral resources of the region were mined extensively
during the 14th and 15th centuries-at the time of the despots'
rule. In addition to mining, trade flourished as well, especially
with Dubrovnik, Byzantium and Western Europe. One of the main
roads of medieval Serbia, linking the country with the south
coast, ran along the Ibar valley.
The oldest historical documents of the Southern Slavs say
that King Stefan Uro I of Raka brought Germans
to the country, as excellent miners. The well-known Saxons
were present from the beginning of the 14th century, especially
in Kopaonik mining area.
The medieval miners' settlement Stari Trg, near Trepca, was
the marketplace for the miners' handicrafts. The present-day
ruins of a basilica are probably the remains of a Catholic
church, which was mentioned from the 14th to the 17th century.
Rogozno, which was given as a gift to Banjska by King Milutin,
also had a Catholic house of worship.
In many written documents from those days Trepca was denoted
as a mining town. A mint in Plana was mentioned just before
the Battle of Kosovo (1389). Mining was particularly developed
during the rule of Despot Ðurad Brankovic. Settlers from
Dubrovnik came at the beginning of the 15th century.
In 1455 the Turks seized the two richest mines of medieval
Serbia-Novo Brdo and Trepca. The mining activities began to
Kopaonik there are several medieval monasteries, which brought
world renown to Serbian culture.
Nemanja's Studenica, of eternal white, was built by the river
of the same name, approximately in 1190. Its ornaments were
carved in marble, and an unknown artist painted the crucifix
in 1208. The monastery also includes Sava's dining room for
the entire fraternity, Radoslav's spacious vestibule (second
quarter of the 13th century), King Milutin's small church called
Kraljeva crkvica (1314), full of paintings, as well as a rich
ica, built by Stefan Prvovencani (c. 1215), was the first
seat of Archbishop Sava (1219). Its purple regalia can be seen
Gradac, the memorial of Helena d'Anjou (Jelana Anujska),
on the left tributary of the Ibar, was recently reconstructed
and is reminiscent of the Gothic style of the Queen's fatherland.
The Sopocani monastery "at the source of the Raka"
(c. 1265), the memorial of her husband, King Uro, should
also be noted as it is the most beautiful gallery of Serbian
Banjska (second decade of the 14th century), near the field
of Kosovo, was the place where King Milutin was supposed to
be buried, but fate would not have it that way. The remains
of "the insatiable builder of glorious churches" had
to be moved, before the Battle of Kosovo, to Trepca, which was
indebted to this powerful ruler because of the development of
mining in the area during his lifetime.
In the vicinity of Kopaonik there is also Nemanja's monastery
of Ðurdevi Stupovi (before 1168), with Dragutin's Chapel
(c. 1282). Petrova crkva, located near these memorials of the
Nemanjic dynasty, is even older (8th or 9th century), and it
is believed the Grand upan Nemanja was converted to Orthodox
Christianity under its oval roof. Many riches of Illyrian origin
and of great artistic value were found underneath the foundations
of this edifice (at present they are at the National Museum
Just at the foot of Mount Kopaonik there is another temple of
pre-Nemanjic Serbia, which still resists the passing of time.
It is the half-demolished Stara Pavlica (Old Pavlica). Nova
Pavlica (New Pavlica), the church of the Music brothers, legendary
Kosovo heroes (9th decade of the 14th century), is also located
Somewhat further off, on the opposite side of the mountain,
to the north-east, there are several memorial monasteries of
the Morava group, from the end of the 14th and the beginning
of the 15th century: Veluca, Lazarica, Rudenica, Milentija,
Ljubostinja. Near the town of Kurumlija, to the south-east,
are the remains of the monastery of St. Nicholas, one of the
oldest Nemanjic memorials (before 1168).
In Zvecan, at the entrance of the Ibar canyon, in one of the
oldest Serbia medieval cities (from the 11th to the 14th century),
the blinded ex-King Stefan Decanski came to the sad end of his
life. Already by the end of the 14th century the Turks conquered
the city. At the end of the canyon, above the ess of the river,
Maglic still towers over the area. These two fortifications,
as well as Brvenik (14th century), ruled the entire canyon.
Koznik (beginning of the 15th century) is also nearby. It stood
against assaults coming from the opposite direction. It is assumed
that Vrhlab (beginning of the 14th century), above the Lab River,
was the summer residence of King Milutin.
Towns guarded fertile region of the wine-growing district, ore
and forest wealth of Kopaonik and rich pious foundations of
the Serbian rulers. These formerly mighty cities, built under
difficult conditions, for medieval warfare, gradually lost their
strategic advantages, but the ruins of their stonewalls are
still defying the passage of the centuries.
Dr Dobroslav St. Pavlovic
"A Giant in the Centuries"
Turistical Union of Serbia, 1982.