Dimitrovgrad, caribrod, panorama view of caribrod from Kozarica hill

Dimitrovgrad is one of towns in Pirot‘s county, in southeast Serbia. It is on the border with Bulgaria. It is the most southern municipality of Serbia.

Today name is honoring Bulgarian president Georgi Dimitrov, and it changed in 1951. And before that it was Caribrod. Traces of first people date from 3000 years btc. As from October 2019, this town is named Caribrod again.

History of Dimitrovgrad

coblestone, main street in Dimitrovgrad, cobble street, Caribrod, street

Traces of the first settlements in the municipality of Dimitrovgrad date back to the time of neolithic period (3.300 – 2.200 BCE). The territory surrounding the today’s town was inhabited in the Bronze and Iron Age can be concluded from the numerous archaeological findings. The ancient Romans built Via Militaris road in the 1st century AD. It was located through today’s town, as we know it today. Well preserved remains of the ancient road were excavated in recent years.In 1433, these regions have fallen under the Turkish occupation. Many travel writers from various nations who have traveled the Balkans wrote down their observations and wrote about life in these parts.

Suleiman the Magnificent, Turkish Sultan, who was with his army took a hike to the North in transit through the valley of Nišava (1521) wrote: “Finally I am in the village under the name Imperial well (Caribrod). The legend about the name Caribrod says: On the way back to Turkey, on the site of today’s Dimitrovgrad, stopped the wagon of Turkish emperor. Car wanted to go to the other side of the Nišava, however, the bridge was not there.

Emperor therefore issued an order to form a bridge or a boat.  To place the people then called “Imperial ship,” or “Caribrod” in Serbian. That is story about how the town got the its  name. After 1951. name changed in Dimitrovgrad today.

Large Ottoman military base operated in the west of Dimitrovgrad prior to the Balkan nations full independence.

What to see in Caribrod and around

Near Dimitrovgrad, is Monastery Poganovo. Also Smilovo lakes, Savat I and Savat II, are near by. They are located in Smilovo vilage. These lakes are rich in fish. In Smiovo Lakes you can fish many kinds of fish. You can enjoy fishing with a daily and monthly permit for these lakes. Beautiful nature around Caribrod can be seen on Stara mountain and in river Jerma canyon.

As place with rich and long history, it has many monuments of past times. Memorial monument Pametnik, dedicated to fallen fighters of battle of Neskovo brdo (Neskos hill), during Serbian Bulgarian war in 19th century. Exactly in 1887.

Also you can experience Petrlaška cave. Location of Petrlaška cave is 12 kilometers north of Caribrod.

Smilovo lakes, fishing heaven

The wild beauty of this area implies beautiful nature. But not only that. About 10 kilometers from Dimitrovgrad are the artificial Smilovo lakes. They are 32 kilometers away from Pirot. They were made in the period from 1979 to 1985. Artificially made for the needs of hydro-regulation in the village of Smilovo. Smilovo lakes consist of two lakes, Smilovo I and Smilovo II. They are separated by an embankment.

Smilovo I is also called Protopopinci or Protopopinsko Lake. Also the Upper lake. Smilovo II is larger than these two lakes. Size about 22 acres. While Protopopinsko Lake is a little less than 6 hectares. Both are almost the same depth, about 6 meters. In addition to the constant wind that blows here, one important thing is characteristic. These lakes, especially the larger Smilovo II, are adored by fishermen. This is because, in addition to the rich fish stock, there are arranged places for fishermen. Here you can fish for catfish, pike, carp, etc.

Smilovo waterfall Ripaloto

Ripaloto Waterfall, or Ripalo, is not so famous. This is mostly due to its seasonal character. And also bad marketing of this area. It is often gone in the summer months. It is located about half an hour walk from theSmilovac village. It is about 15 meters high. The road to it is not marked. But it is easiest to find when you start from the village of Smilovac on the old road towards the village of Braćevci. In one time you will come to a stream. Follow the stream that will take you Ripaloto waterfall.

Petrlaska cave in Dimitrovgrad

Petrlaške cave (Odorovac caves) is the largest cave in this group of caves, named after it. It is located at the foot of the mountain Vidilic, in the part called “Odorovacko polje”. About 12 kilometers from Cariborod. When heading to cave, you go north of the Municipality of Caribrod. From that road, 10 kilometers are with asphalt, the rest is a dirt road. Petrlaska caves have been declared a natural monument. This set of caves includes Petrlaška cave (Popova cave) (468m), Tmna dupka (170m), Odzina dupka (150m), Danculica (107m), Nedeljina dupka (69m). The exact length of this cave is yet unknown, because it has not yet been fully explored.

The cave itself is rich in cave jewelry in beautiful halls. In addition, a piece of pottery from the Iron Age was found here. Like bones from a long time ago.

Center for rehabilitation of children with special needs “Ravna Suma” in Prtopopinci

On the farm of domestic animals of the host family Vasov, there are animals to socialize as a form of therapy. The farm is big, you have four horses on it. One for riding and three therapeutic. There are another 80 goats. And 120 sheep. Cheese is made from their milk. Great. Cows, poultry and llamas. Yes, lame. It is very close to Smilovo lakes. So you can visit and them enjoy in the same time. The Center is active from May to September period. And you can contact them through their Facebook page “Centar za hyporehabilitaciju”.

Monasteries and churches in the vicinity of Dimitrovgrad

In addition to one of the most important monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Poganovo Monastery of St. John the Theologian, there are some other religious buildings. Smaller or larger, but they have their value. This monastery from the 14th century, today attracts a large number of believers and tourists. A lot of time has passed since then, until today. In that period, this monastery had a very turbulent history.

The Monastery of St. Demetrius Manastirce, in Dimitrovgrad was initially built in 1870. On foundations of prevous one, this was built in 1925. And it was rebuilt in 1996. Today, this is a nunnery. Next to the Smilovo lakes, the accumulation, on the slopes of the Vidilič mountain, is the village of Smilovo. Smilovo also has a monastery and a beautiful church.

More monasteries of Dimitrovgrad area

Church of Holy Paraskeva. it is located on about 3 kilometers form the village. And the monastery of St. Kirik and Julita. It is also called Smilovo monastery or Sveti Ćirik monastery. The church of the monastery was built in 1839, on the foundations of the former church. The original church was set on fire by the Ottomans. It has always been a nunnery. And this is the first nunnery of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It was founded by Russian nuns in 1925. By the way, according to some stories, the Smilovo monastery appears to have been built in the 10th century. But there is no concrete evidence of that.

Smilovo monastery, Monastery Dimitrovgrad, Monastery Caribrod

The Church of the Holy Archangel in the village of Boljev dol is one of the churches around Dimitrovgrad. It is dedicated to Archangel Mihailo (Michael). Its exact time of construction is unknown. But it is assumed that it was built in the period from the 17th to the 19th century. Since 1984 the monument of the clutter has been under state protection. It was completely renovated in 1978. But it is not painted on the inside.

Holy Archangel church Dimitrovgrad, Churches of Serbia

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Photo of main street by Orin ZebestCC BY 2.0; Caribrod from Kozarica hill by Edal Anton Lefterov CC BY-SA 3.0