City Knjazevac [Stara Planina Mountin], Serbia
Situated in east Serbia, Knjaževac is surrounded by mountain ranges. Many preserved instances of folk masonry witness to the rich cultural heritage. Tourist offerings include a profusion of forests, greenery, streams, rivers, intact nature, moderate climate, numerous cultural monuments, thermal springs with medicinal properties, and healthy food. The Timacum Minus archaeological site is situated in the vicinity of Knjaževac, while an archeological-ethno park with numerous Roman monuments and epitaphs engraved with grape is located in the nearby village of Ravna. The Museum of Viticulture and Winemaking is also located in this village.
The Regional Museum [Zavi?ajni Muzej], which should not be missed out, contains a unique Sock Museum, which displays a collection of 1,000 hand-knit woolen socks of the Timok Krajina. Some of the displayed artifacts are up to 200 years old. The 14th century Sveta Bogorodica church [Holy Mother of God], located in the village of Gornja Kamenica, is also a must-see.
The vicinity of Knjaževac also boasts the highest peak in Serbia, Midžor on Mt. Stara Planina, with the attractive nearby site of Babin Zub [Grandma's Tooth].
Knjaževac's traditional Prayer under Midžor ethno fest takes place in May. It includes a unique contest in preparing old Serbian feasts and a shepherd game competition.
Knjaževac Wine Route - "Roman Treasury"
Viticulture and winemaking in Knjaževac vineyards date back to the Roman times, as evidenced by the Timacum Minus archeological site, situated in the vicinity of Knjaževac. The Late Antiquity findings include a statue of Dionysus, the god of wine in the old Greek mythology. The data shows that Roman legionaries used to drink locally produced wines to gather strength before setting out on military quests. The 3rd and 4th century antiquity writers describe the Knjaževac region as vineyards.
The region's oldest vineyards are located on the Džervin hill above Knjaževac. Old vineyards were planted with the Plovdin and Prokupac varieties and to a lesser extent with other grape cultivars.
The Knjaževac winemaking cooperative was established in 1927 as the third of its kind in Serbia. The accompanying wine cellar had a 100-ton capacity, expanded to 3,500 tons after the World War II. In 1960, the cooperative was transformed into the Džervin Cellar, a corner stone of Knjaževac's winemaking development.
I was back in the ancient times that natural factors have transformed Knjaževac and the surrounding area into a viticultural region.
Viticulture and winemaking today
Knjaževac is a region of indescribable beauty, an amalgamation of ethno motifs and tradition with late Roman archaeological sites and monuments. Nowadays, wine is inseparable from the Knjaževac region's history and tradition.
Knjaževac vineyards belong to the Timok region, being located in the basin of the Timok River and its tributaries. The area's moderate-continental climate, characterized by warms summers and cold winters, with over 300 sunny days per year, is favorable for grapevine cultivation. The region's three dominant soil types include alluvial deposits, lake sediments, and soils that developed on eruptive rocks and limestone.
Black grapevine varieties that are cultivated in Knjaževac vineyards include Red Burgundy, Prokupac and Plovdina, and white varieties include Smederevka and Italian Riesling.
Prokupac, Vranac and Plovdina are autochthonous old varieties cultivated today in Knjaževac vineyards, in addition to numerous other top varieties, which esily adapt to this type of soil and climate.
Being very active in Knjaževac, the Association of Viticulturists and Vintners was among those who initiated the 'smoked ham, wine and cheese fair' which is becoming a traditional festivity. This Association gathers wine cellar keepers and natural wine producers, aiming to develop production and promote wine education, joint presentation and product placement. The association also initiated the assembly of the Winemaking Museum, which is part of an ethno park. Together with a village school, a traditional house and a lapidarium, the museum makes a unique traditional Roman-style whole.