The Ibar gorge, the Valley of the Serbian Kings, the Valley of Centuries, the Lilac Valley or simply, the Ibar Valley is not an ordinary valley nor is Ibar an ordinary river. Ibar is one of those sacred rivers that represent the symbol of the people living there who, around it, create their biological space as the backbone of their ethnic being. The Ibar Valley or the Valley of Centuries is the area that was passed by Celtic tribes, Roman legions and various invaders, from the Mongols, Tatar tribes, Ugars, Crusaders, Ottomans, but only the Serbs stayed there forever, recognizing in this area a country essentially connected with them.
The valley of the centuries is, as the name implies, centuries of intertwined history, culture, tradition, mixing great events with myths and legends, where real historical events often seem like a fairy tale, and myths and legends, with their stringency and signification, resemble real events.
Through the valley of centuries walked warlords and warriors, kings and ordinary soldiers, saints and monks-scribers. Each foot of this valley has significance and is a sign for the future path that we should take. Every corner of this valley, forests, coves on the Ibar coast, every cave and waterfall hide a secret, a landmark of some important event. Each rock and mountain peak are witnesses to a knightlyclashes and great battles.
Much of this makes the Valley of Centuries remarkable and fabulous. From the "petrified forest", through the murmur of the Ibar waterfalls, the noise of its cascades and the silence of the vortex, through the healing waters of Mataruska, Bogutovacka and Josanicka spas, to the miraculous spring of St. Sava in Odmenje and the "eye spa" beneath the Gradac monastery, whose waters help and strengthen everyone who tries them. Forests full of secrets and natural treasures and steep sides that form a vertical cliff with their rocks towards Ibar, and black pine growing out of stone covering a monument in the shape of a Serbian soldier dedicated to the Heroes of Ibar of the Great War, are only parts of the sights of the Valley of Centuries. Lilac, which by the end of April, decorates the entire Ibar Gorge with its color and smell, was placed by Serbs in one of the most romantic European legends. That legend says that King Uros I, out of great love for his bride Helen of Anjou, a French princess, planted the entire valley with lilacs to make her feel like she was in her native Provence. She loved her Uros and Serbia with immense love. Since then, the Valley of Centuries has been also called the Lilac Valley.
The multitude of churches, monasteries and fortresses make the Valley of Centuries wonderful. Underground church, wooden churches andchurches called "Ibar flyovers" because they "flew" during thenight from village to village or even from one sideof Ibar to the other. There are also churches whose construction dates from the earliest times of the 12th and 13th centuries, where neimars prayed and participated in the construction of our most important monasteries Studenica, Zica, Gradac. According to legend, at the place where brothers Vukan and Stefan the First-Crowned first met after the conflict, was constructed a church dedicated to Candlemas (Sretenje). The place in the Valley of Centuries named Polumir, as its name implies, was created because the estranged brothers here made a semi-peace.
Maglic Fortress is the most preserved medieval fortress. Most probably constructed by King Uros I, and in alliance with other fortresses and fortified towns: Brvenik, Koznik, Brnjaci, Jelec, Ras, to defend Studenica, Zica, Koncul, as well as those sanctities continuing down the Ibar Valley, known as the Dezevo basin: Church of St Peter, Djurdjevistupovi (Tracts of St. George), Sopocani. Maglic still stands, as its name implies, among clouds of fog, so it sometimes seems that the city is neither in heaven nor on earth, and it proudly tells the story of the heroism and splendor of the Serbian knights.
Studenica is the endowment of the Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja, the latter Saint Simeon the Myrrh-streaming, who united the Serbian tribes and small states It was built as a model for all later sanctities of the Serbian church. Since 1986, the Studenica Monastery has been under UNESCO protection. After the reconciliation of the brothers Vukan and Stefan, a period of progress arose. St. Sava, hegumen of Studenica Monastery, worked tirelessly with his brother Stefan on state and church independence. They constructed the Zica Monastery as the future seat of the Eparchy of Zica and the seat of the Serbian Church. This was finally achieved by the coronation of Stefan in Zica as king and with obtaining the independence of the Serbian Archdiocese.
In the last quarter of the 13th century, Helen of Anjou built her only endowment, the Gradac Monastery. Gradac was modeled after Studenica, as a testament to the adherence of Queen Jelena to the Nemanjici dynasty and to the legacy of Saint Simeon the Myrrh-streaming.
Besidethe already mentioned monasteries, in the Valley of Centuries are alsoStara Pavlica (it isunknown when it was built because there is no similar structure in architecture in Serbia and not even in Balkan), Nova Pavlica (1383-1386), the endowment of the Music brothers, then the Koncul monastery, where hegumen was the later Archbishop Danilo II and where, according to the legend, RastkoNemanjic, later Saint Sava, was praying the night before his departure to Sveta Gora.
The valley of centuries is eternal, as is the beauty and love upon which the world rests. The valley of centuries is made of beauty, love, culture, knightly values and the sense of existence of the human race. It will survive as long as the world exist and as long as we love and enjoy it, and in turn we’ll be nourished andspiritually inspired.