THE ROYAL REST IN
THE SERBIAN ROYAL SPAS
In the monograph Serbian Royal Spas, an authentic story was told about Vrnjačka, Ribarska, Brestovačka, Bukovička, Niška, Vranjska, Koviljača and Sokobanja Spas, being once upon the time the noble and cultural centers of Serbia.
For the beneficial effect of their waters and refreshing air, spas were places frequented by Serbian rulers from both the Obrenović and Karadjordjević dynasties, and members of their families. From that reason also came wealthy industrialists and merchants, politicians, actors, writers and other public figures. The history of Serbian spas begins just a year after Serbia's liberation from Turkish rule in 1833, when Slovakian Dr Karlo Pacek, suggested to Prince Miloš that he send spa waters to Vienna for scientific analyses. Soon after, Baron Sigmund Herder, head of Saxon mines, analyzed the water from Brestovac and later he did the same with waters from other spas. When their curative properties were confirmed, he proposed building a bath "for the remedy and recovery of people".
The development of spa tourism in Serbia is inseparable from Prince Miloš Obrenović, who favoured the Brestovačka and the Sokobanja Spa, where he built his residences and established rules on spa organisation, but he prefered the mineral water was "kiseljak" of Bukovica spa.
The successors of Miloš, Prince Mihajlo and his sons, King Milan and King Aleksandar Obrenović, favoured the European spas but they are still remembered for their splendid balls organised in the "Old Building" in Bukovicka Spa. They also visited the Niška Spa. Queen Draga used to go to Ribarska Spa, to treat her sterility. A special bathtub with porcelain tiles was built for her therapy.
In 1908 King Petar I Karadjordjević financed teh famous bathtub in the Koviljača Spa, today one of its more exclusive offers. In his time it was place of recovery and silence, but his successor, King Aleksandar I Karadjordjević, builts the elite hall - the Kur Salon, which comprises a dancing hall, restaurant, library, beer room and a club - the first gambling salon in the Balkans.
The waters of the Vrnjačka Spa drank Aleksandar Obrenović, Petar I, Aleksandar I and Petar II Karadjordjević and turned it into a royal and elite spa in Serbia. Wealthy people from the region began building villas and boarding houses in the area, the Spa's offer was refreshed when a new spring "Snežnik" was opened (1916), and a spring "Slatina"(1935), the thermal bathhouse is constructed, the Czech Josip Paris, who was the owner of a famed flower shops in Vienna and Maribor, made the park with roundels arranged in Baroque style.
Visiting and others Spa centers the Kings Milan, Aleksandar Obrenović and Aleksandar I Karadjordjević enjoyed therapeutic waters of Niška Spa as attested the commemorative fountain "Three Kings".
The first official guest at the Brestovačka Spa was Princess Ljubica, and Prince Miloš was welcomed there with the greatest honours. His successor to the throne, Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjević built a lavish residence there where life was organised according to ceremonial customary for summer residences, after the model of European rulers. The villa "Toplica", today in the centre of the Spa's medical block, was built by King Petar I Karadjordjević who was the favourite guest at the Ribarska Spa, in whose hot springs he would alleviate the pain he suffered from his notorious gout. Since King Petar visited the Spa as long as he lived, to honour the memory of this period, the King's bronze sculpture, in natural size, is set on the bench in the park. Today the guests of Ribarska Spa are happy to visit a chapel of Nikolai Nikolayevich Rayevski, whose fate inspired the character of Count Vronsky, the hero of Leo Tolstoy's novel Ana Karenin.
When he was not visited the Ribarska Spa, King Petar I Karadjordjević visited the Vranjska Spa, next to Island's geysers the warmest waters in Europe (96 oC). An authentic orinetal atmosphere, Southern musical rhythm, gastronomic specialities and the open daynight cafes,enticing the guests all over the world.
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Aleksandar II Karađorđević as the host and the Serbian Spas and Resorts Association and the Editorial board of the trade magazine The Tourist World, as the organizers, organized a promotion under the title Welcome to the Serbian Royal Spas, on which was presented the monograph The Serbian Royal Spas.