Sokobanja is located in the central part of southeastern Serbia. It is 230 km away from Belgrade, and 60 km from Nis. It is bounded on all sides by mountains - Rtanj in the north, Ozren in the south, Devica in the southeast, Slemen in the east and Bukovik in the west. The river Moravica flows through Sokobanja, which builds the Bovan gorge in the west of the valley. The area of Sokobanja is characterized by climatic characteristics that give a feature a climatic health resort, ie an air spa because in the vicinity of Skokoanja, there are no air pollutants and the air is rich in negative ions.
The spa, known even in Roman times, was widely known under the Turks. The Turks captured Sokobanja in 1398. Later, it passed to the rule of the Austrians twice, in 1690 and 1737, and later again belonged to the Ottoman Empire. At that time, Sokobanja was a large and lively place. Serbian houses were located around today’s Vrelo and that part of the city was called Varoš. In the lower part of the settlement closer to Moravica, there was a Turkish part of the settlement divided into neighbourhoods.
After the liberation from the Turkish rule in 1833, the place changed, the spa became known for its springs, the rehabilitation of the Turkish hammam and the renewal of thermo-mineral springs began. At that time, Prince Miloš took care of the arrangement of the spa, and later Prince Mihajlo. After the Second World War, Sokobanja developed even more actively and today attracts a large number of tourists throughout the year.
Sokobanja has six thermo-mineral springs that are used in the treatment of various diseases. They are also used for rest and recreation.
During your stay in Sokobanja, you can enjoy the untouched nature and visit numerous excursion sites, such as Lepterija, the source of the river Moravica, Seselačka cave, Bovansko lake, Vrmdžansko lake, mountain Rtanj, the medieval town of Sokograd, and in the centre there is a Turkish bath.
In the very centre of the place, there is a nicely arranged marble promenade, which is the centre of cultural events during the season. In addition to cafes, pizzerias, pastry shops, fast food shops, there are also souvenir shops and children’s toys.
Right next to the promenade is a park with a playground for children and a part for walking with benches for rest and enjoyment. Squirrels are permanent residents of this park. Within this park is an inhaler in which naturally warm water is used for inhalation, which flows through the park itself.
The favourable climate, the richness of thermo-mineral springs and the rich cultural and historical tradition of this place are the main motives that attract more and more tourists every year and thanks to which Sokobanja is today one of the most visited tourist places in Serbia.
Lepterija is the most visited and most famous picnic area in Sokobanja. It can be reached by asphalt road or landscaped forest paths. The walk to Lepterija leads through beautiful landscapes that are rich in greenery. On that road is the restaurant “Pećina”, the current “Marco Polo”, located under a rock on the banks of the river Moravica, an ideal place for lunch in nature or a coffee break during a walk. On the resort itself, which is also next to the river, there is a part with summer houses and benches, as well as places where you can make a barbecue and other specialities.
There are two springs (hot and cold water) on Lepteria. The resort is protected by law and declared a landscape of exceptional features. Along the road that leads to the Lepterija picnic area, the separation to the right leads to the church of St. Mary. The church is located near the picnic area and it can be reached on foot. It was recently built on the foundations of an old church from the 14th century, which was demolished. It is dedicated to the birth of the Most Holy Mother of God, which is celebrated on September 21.
From Lepterija, a wooden bridge over the river Moravica leads to a path that leads to a natural phenomenon known as the Mother of God in the rock. The recess in the rock has the shape of a mother with a child, and according to tradition, the Mother of God hid in that rock with Christ in her arms, fleeing from the Romans. About 400 meters upstream from Lepterija is the medieval fortress Sokograd.
Mountain and picnic area Ozren
Ozren is a mountain above Sokobanja whose peak is at 1118 m above sea level. The road from Sokobanja to Ozren is about 5 km long. There are two hospitals on this mountain. One is for lung diseases due to the altitude and pine forests, and the other is for eye treatment diseases, due to the abundance of greenery and a favourable wind rose (standing and mixing more air currents), which affects this type of treatment.
There are also two picnic areas on Ozren. One, next to the Eye Hospital, and the other which is very pleasant next to the fishpond, with a huge landscaped park, tables and benches. Next to it, there are several cafes and a parking space.
Sokograd is located in the ecologically preserved ambience of the attractive resort Lepterija, in the gorge of the river Moravica. The fortification was built during the conquest of this area by the Romans (1st century BC). Later, during the turbulent historical events in this area, it did not lose its significance.
The fortification consists of two parts: the lower and the upper town. The lower town has walls of defensive towers and a high protective wall with openings for cannons as well as a water tank. The lower town is pentagonal and has two domes.
The city itself has been partially restored and is under state protection. Sokograd is a cultural monument of national importance.
Ripaljka, one of the largest and most beautiful waterfalls in Serbia, is located about 200 meters from the Grudno picnic area. This waterfall is of an accumulative type and was protected by law in 1948.
It is located directly on the source of the river Gradašnica. The waterfall got its name from the fact that in this area, instead of jumping, it is often said (Ripa- meaning to jump/hopping).
There is a small Ripaljka, next to the pond at the Grudno picnic area, which has a water drop of 9 m and a large Ripaljka with a water drop of 17.5 m.
The spring of the river Moravica is 15 km away from Sokobanja, on the road to Knjaževac. This is an exceptional natural phenomenon because the river originates from several springs that cannot be easily seen, as they erupt from the bottom of the riverbed.
Nearby are benches and tables for relaxing and preparing barbecue or preparing trout from a local pond. In the period after the snow melts above the mainspring, secondary springs are activated, from which the water simply gushes. In the summer period, these secondary springs dry up and the road leads to the Vrelska cave right through them. It is located nearby, 300m from the spring.
The signpost and trail will unmistakably lead you to the forest where the opening of this cave is located, from which cold air comes out. However, access for clumsy people can be a problem and a potential danger because the cave itself is not secured nor is it recommended for tourists to enter it.
Lake Bovan is located at the entrance to the Sokobanja from the direction of Aleksinac. It is an artificial lake 10 km long, with a maximum depth of over 30 m in some places.
It is rich with fish, a real treat for anglers and a real paradise for campers. There are also arranged places for swimming. Since it is an accumulation for the water supply of the neighbouring Aleksinac, it is forbidden to ride motorboats.
However, there is always room for sailors, rowing and pedal boat enthusiasts. The Bovan sailing regatta is held twice a year in April and September.
The cave is illuminated in the length of 200 m and abounds in cave jewellery, and the river Ponornica flows through it. The inhabitants of this village were very diligent, so when entering the cave out of season, visitors can illuminate the interior of the cave by pressing the switch by themselves in an electrical cabinet and embark on an adventure through its winding corridors.
There are three exits from it. The area around the cave is arranged for excursions – a fountain, several benches and tables and a roof for tourists, access paths, barbecue places, walnut shade, and the locals have created an artificial lake for bathing and refreshment during the hot summer days by dividing the Sesalačka River.
Rtanj is a mountain situated in eastern Serbia, near Sokobanja. Its highest peak is Šiljak (1,565 m). The most obvious physical feature is the conical shape on top of the mountain ridge, which appears to be perfect. The north side of the mountain is covered with forests and shrubs, full of autochthonous plant species and plenty of sources of potable water.
There have long been various legends related to Rtanj and they have always attracted the unusual attention of people who lived in its surroundings. The slopes of the Šiljak peak are adorned with endemic plants that grow only in this place. There are already real legends about their healing properties. However, in recent years, careful researchers, with the help of modern technology, have noticed some very strange geometric and other laws that do not seem like an ordinary game of nature, but like a work made by human hands many thousands of years ago.
Whether Rtanj is a mountain or a pyramid formed a long time ago – is a question that has intrigued scientists, physicists, conspiracy theorists, journalists and many others for decades. We are familiar with the phenomenon of December 21, 2012, when many people in the world believed that the end of the world or one cycle of existence according to the calendar of the ancient Maya was approaching.
Enormous attendance of this mystical mountain was recorded then, because there are too many indications that it is specific and in many ways different from ordinary mountains, and it is believed that even if the end of the world comes, it will remain intact.
Whether this is true or not is up to you to judge, but one thing is for sure – in this place, you will certainly not be bored!