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Just half an hour’s drive from the city of Novi Sad and an hour and a half from Belgrade stands one of Serbia’s most beautiful and also largest national parks, Fruška gora.A favourite picnic area of locals, it stretches along the bank of the Danube like some sort of a green island, ideal for an escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
The diversity of plant and animal life on Mt. Fruška gora, dating all the way back to the time when it was an island in the Pannonian Sea, is evident from the excavated fossilised remains of seashells, sea snails and corals.With more than a thousand plant species, many of which are natural rarities in Serbia, this national park is almost completely covered in thick forest. Visitors who are persistent enough – and just a tad lucky – may stumble upon one of 30 species of orchids, as many as 18 of which are of international relevance.The local fauna is no less diverse than the flora, with many of the animals found locally included in the Red List of Threatened Species. This is an area were rare birds choose to nest and currently the only place where the eastern imperial eagle, a threatened species, raises its young.
One of the most famous events held at this national park is the Fruška Gora Marathon. For more than forty years, its 19 trails have been attracting hundreds of enthusiasts who like walking and running through nature.This national park is a firm favourite with cyclists and mountaineers, as well as all others who simply like to go back to nature in their spare time. Mountaineers should know that the trails of Fruška gora range in difficulty from easy to highly demanding ones, all clearly marked to help them safely conquer this beautiful mountain of Vojvodina.And when the time comes for a respite from recreation, there are plentiful picnic areas and hospitality establishments to choose from, where you can rest in peace.Fruška gora also gladly welcomes those who come here simply to relax, bask in the sunshine and breathe in the crisp alpine air before heading to one of the local restaurants to taste the many local delicacies.
In classical antiquity, ancient Romans knew Fruška gora by the name of Alma Mons, which translates as “Fertile Hill”. An apt moniker, considering that vines have been grown here since the time of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.To this day, Fruška gora is synonymous with viticulture and wine – the beverage of gods which intoxicates all senses. In the wine region of Fruška gora, you can sample supreme wines produced from domestic grape varieties, such as Neoplanta, Župljanka and Skadarka.And if you’re in the area, be sure to taste bermet – an aromatised drink specific to Fruška gora, made by mixing wine and several varieties of aromatic herbs. The exact recipe is a secret that has been passed, amongst a handful of local families, from generation to generation.The melliferous linden forests and seemingly endless meadows have always been an ideal habitat for bees. Beekeepers have dotted Fruška gora with their hives and the bees are busy making genuine natural honey, to make life sweeter for everyone who comes to visit this “green island”.
The many monasteries that were built on Fruška gora from the 15th to the 18th Century have always been the spiritual and political centre of the region. The best-known among them are the Orthodox Christian monasteries of Krušedol, Novo Hopovo, Staro Hopovo, Jazak, Beočin, Šišatovac and Vrdnik. The prehistoric remains, the fortresses, the roads and the necropolises found here bear witness to the initial settlement of the area, with material evidence of the presence of ancient Romans.Throughout history the role of the fortresses on Mt. Fruška gora, as an important strategic point, has been to control and defend the surrounding area. Petrovaradin Fortress and Vrdnik Tower, the best-known among them, still bear witness to the daring endeavours of their builders and tell the tales of those who kept a watchful eye for enemies, from their ramparts.This natural gem of Vojvodina wasn’t spared from the devastation of World War II – due to its situation it was often used as a battlefield. Fortunately, its lush nature provided shelter to all those who fled the conflict, a fact commemorated today by the monument erected on Iriški venac.