Beautiful territory, that everybody love. To people that are traveling thrpough there or going there for picnic an relaxing. To ancient Romans that were going throughout here on Via Millitaris road. To travelers of famous Orient Express train that was going throughout here and admired to beauty of southern Serbia and Balkans. Nobody remained indifferent to the beauty of the Sicevo gorge and it’s beauty.
Where is Sicevo gorge Nature park?
Sićevo gorge nature park is located very near from Niš, on about 14 kilometers. Between northern slopes of Suva mountain and southern side of Svrljig mountains. Parallel with river Nišava and Sićevo gorge there is important road connecting Serbia and Bulgaria. And also railroad too. In past, Orient Express used it. Today, it’s part of railroad from London to Istanbul. Sićevo gorge is 17km long, from village Prosek to village Dolac.
Sicevo gorge Serbia
National park Sicevo Serbia has four parts. They are Vis Kusaca, Seliste, Ostrovica and Gradistanski canyon. Kusaca and Seliste can be seen as one part, Prosek canyon. Most interesting for visitors is Gradistanski canyon with it’s steep stone cliffs. Location of this canyon in Serbia is from village Ostrovica to Bela Palanka basin. Gradasnica canyon the width of the canyon varies. The distance in it’s widest points is 560 meters. In narrowest part, near monastery St. Petka, is about 50 meters. Beside this, here is location of international road from Nis to Sofia and Istanbul. Maybe, one more fact is interesting for you. On this road, in the canyon, there are thirteen tunnels. So, for that reason, drive carefully. There are two important endemic plants. Here and in Jelasnica gorge, in all of Europe. On the rise Oblik, in exit of Gradistanski canyon, is place where you can see Natalia Ramonda (Ramonda Nathalea) and Serbian Ramonda (Ramonda Serbica). And also, the place where sage is growing.
Second most interesting part of Sicevo gorge natural park is Vis Kusaca. It starts form Hydro power plant Sicevo, built in 1921. Except enjoying nature and hiking, you can take a lots of photos. Here is location of vineyards, weekend houses and Holy Mother of God Monastery.
Ostrovica canyon is 2 km long. Here you can find golden eagle, owl, wild boar, roe deer etc. There are many vineyards that you can enjoy. In this part of Sicevo gorge Serbia is Hydro power plant Ostrovica (called Sant Petka till 1953). Nicknamed Nisava fairy. This is first hydro power plant that supplied city of Nis with electricity. Designer of this Sicevo power plant that is still active is Nikola Tesla. For that reason, he was declared as Honorable citizen of Ostrovica.
Seliste is part of Sicevo gorge that starts form hydro power plant to entrance to Ostrovica canyon. Throughout this part railroad runs. Except in this way, it’s not easy to enjoy this amazing nature of this part. Often 70 – 80 degrees steep.
Beside natural beauty of flora and fauna, you can see very rare species of animals. Such are the black stork and the griffon vulture, the golden eagle. Hedgehog, mole, squirrel, wild boar, deer and several other rare species of animals.
The canyon near Nis Serbia can be considered as special. If not for other things, than because it is one of last resorts of golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). This is also resort of worlds biggest owl (Buba Bubo). And also few more flora and fauna species. Even, without that it is beautuful here. But all this contributed that Sicevo gorge declared as Nature protected reserve in 2000. And it was protected in some form from 1977.
With building international Coridor 10, and traffic reduction, there is hope that it will be easier to preserve all rare species in Sicevo gorge National park.
What more to see in Sicevo gorge nature park?
A lot of caves are located in this Sicevo gorge nature park. Archeological and speleological excavations are constant here. So, in 2008. there is important finding of jawbone. It dates about 130 000 years, or more, and is presumed to be of Homo erectus. From Paleolithic period. That is in Small and Big Balanica cave. Jawbone in Little Balanica cave is estimated to be more than 397000 years old.
In Sicevo gorge Serbia you can experience, except the gorge itself, Monastery Holy Good mother that dates in 17th century. And also, village Ostrovica is location of Saint Petka monastery. In the middle of wood, on 771 meters altitude. Two sights are here. Very important. Two Hydro power plants. One is named Saint Petka, and dates in 1908. In that time, it was power plant with largest production of electricity in Serbia.
The other one on river Nisava in Sicevo Gorge, is made only thirteen years after Niagara power plant. The original parts are still there. And the power plant is still active from that time. And producing electricity. Power plant in Sicevo is first state owned, and is third plant in State. It dates from 1931. It was built ten years, from 1921. It was projected by famous Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla. For that reason, he became honorable citizen of Ostrovica. Both power plants are equally important as Vucje power plant.
Churches and Monasteries in Sicevo gorgre Serbia
Beside all nature beauty this part of Serbia called Sicevo gorge has something more to offer. As this region was active through the history, many traces of that are here today. In Sicevo gorge you can see beautiful nature, flora and fauna. And also, the beginnings of electricity production in Serbia and also world. But also, there are more things that are must to experience and see. Among them are churches and monasteries in Sicevo gorge.
There are nine churches and monasteries here. Monasteries are: Saint Petka (Iverica) Monastery in Ostrovica, Holy Mother of God on right side of Nisava river, Saint Nikola in Prosek and Monastery of Holy resurrection in side of Gradac hill. There are five churches in Sicevo gorge. Churches are Saint Nikola in villages Monastery and in Cukljenik, Saint Ilija in Sicevo and Saint Peter and Paul in Sicevo. There are locations where were churches in the past. But not any more. In middle ages, in this part of Serbia, there were about twenty churches and monasteries. Really, every church and monastery has it’s value, and should be visited. So plan to visit them acording to your free time. And if you want to visit most important ones, this is our list.
First to visit would be Saint Petka Monastery (Iverica) in Ostrovica. It is located in Gradistanski canyon. And also, it was named Royal Serbian military monastery Saint Petka Iverica. It was military owned. Only one in history. Original time of build is unknown. But, archeological excavation prove that this monastery was here in 14th century. Or even before that. But, sadly, as a result of turbulent history, monastery was destroyed and rebuilt. Few times. After original monastery it was rebuild probably by monks from Sveta Gora. Probably because of the name Iverica, that refers to the monastery of Georgian monks “Ivirion”. There is one legend about this monastery. Ottomans berried twelve girls after destroying monastery in one time. Unfortunately, that story was found to be true, not just a legend. Their bodies were found when building new monastery. Also, next to to the church, there is conical chapel. You can see it from the road, if you are passing by with car.
Holy God Mother monastery is one more important religious object in this area. Because of its location is it also called Sicevo monastery. It is presumed that it’s from Mrnjacevic ruling family period in Serbia, from 14th century. But for sure, it’s unknown. What is known is that is was often destroyed by Ottomans and Bulgarian conquerors. Ottomans destroyed it. Bulgarian soldiers, under occupation, with their bayonets destroyed frescoes, destroyed the church. Initially, it was on right side of Nisava river. After one of destruction, locals tried to protect it. They did it with transferring church in parts to other side of Nisava. But, also that attempt was unsuccessful. For today’s monastery is presumed that it was built in 1647. Prof for that is plate in monastery entrance. It was rebuilt few times. last time was 1928. In Second World war, near the monastery and power plant was position of Nazi soldiers. And for that reason it was not destroyed again in that time.Other religious objects of Serbian Orthodox church are partially and completely destroyed from Bulgarian soldiers and in combat.
Village Monastery church is dedicated to Saint Nikola. It is unknown when it was built. It is important because it has one legend connected with it. In some time Saint Sava was here. On his journey he was thirsty. He came to this village. Local peasant gave him vine to refresh and food. He blessed local vine and vineyards. This church is mentioned in Ottoman documents from 1498. The today’s church is rebuilt in 1838.
Saint Peta monastery in Ostrovica is only monastery of Serbian Orthodox church that belonged to Serbian military. In that period it was named Royal Serbian military monastery Saint Petka Iverica
Legends of Sicevo gorge
First legend of Sicevo area is legend of Saint Sava. Legend say that he was here in one period of life, when he was traveling to Istanbul. During his trip in 13th century, he came to this local village. Saint Sava was thirsty, and he asked locals for water for refreshing. As host did not have water at that moment, they gave him wine. After refreshing, he blessed village and it’s vineyards, for great wine. Throughout history, this area was always known for great wine. Today, it’s the same about vineyards.
Second legend of Sicevo is about healing powers of icon of Holy God Mother. Icon is located in Church of Holy God Mother. By local legends, and and experiences, has healing power. It was created in Russian in 19th century. And cured believer gave it as present to this monastery.
Adrenalin sports in Sicevo gorge Serbia
The national park Sicevo is great for extreme sports. Perfect for mountaineering, hiking, fishing, rafting, paragliding. For world cup in paragliding 2005, this area is declared for the best in Balkans. Few years latter, in 2008. here was Europe championskih in paragilding. In 2009 in Sicevo gorge was even World cup in Rafting. European championship and university league after that.
Art colony Nadežda Petrović in Sicevo
Sicevo gorge is small but very important for cultural life of this territory and whole Serbia. Tha main reason is that Art colony Nadezda Petrovic is held here. It was named after famous Serbian painter. The colony was founded in 1908. It is held in old village school that was renovated for this purpose.
How to get to Sicevo gorge?
The gorge Sicevo, for all reasons mentioned previously, is Natures park of Serbia. Beauty of Sicevo gorge, and Jelasnica gorge, you can see on article Excursion in Nis. Organised tours in Sicevo gorge can be found. And also, you can organize it yourself if you are in Nis or somewhere around. Se great video of cycling ride from Niš to Sićevo gorge.
If you want to come here by yourself, no problem. You can do in with line 18 from Nis. Starting point would be Main bus station in Nis, part for village buses. This line goes to village Sicevo.
cave in Sicevo gorge is by Intermedichbo CC BY 3.0 rs ; Sicevo gorge power plant is by Olivere Stojanović Sicevo gorge panorama by DjordjeMarkovic CC BY 4.0 rs, Sicevo gorge from above by Dejana Sokolovića