ABOUT THE CITY
Throughout the history, Uzice has been considered a very important strategic city and an important stop on the roads leading to the coast and the seaside, connecting the West and East. This is indicated by a turbulent history, which dates back to the Neolithic period. During the Turkish reign, Uzice was named ‘Little Constantinople’ primarily because of the trade and hospitality sector as it was abundant in cafes, inns, taverns and lodges offering resting places and overnight stays and being the starting point for development of the hospitality industry in Uzice and wider region.
The first reliable historical data on the Uzice Fortress comes from the mid-14th century, when it was in a possession of the noble family Vojinović, and after the death of Vojislav Vojinović, Nikola Altomanović. It is located on a high rocky ridge, surrounded by the last gorge meander of the River Djetinja, before entering the peaceful valley. The meander made it inaccessible on three sides, because the cliffs are up to 50 meters high.
Access to the city was possible only from the north, from the neighbouring hill, but there were also vertical sides that defended the approach to the highest part of the fortress, making it unconquerable. An interesting fact is that it used to have a water tower that reached far to the River Djetinja, and thus supplied the city with water during the siege,too. The road which connected Bosnia and Serbia could be monitored and defended from the fortress. The position of the city has aroused the admiration of travellers and bystanders passing by for centuries. Currently, the fortress is under conservation and restoration works, which will make the city shine again with its old splendour.
THE HYDROCENTRAL POWER PLANT
The hydroelectric power plant on the river Djetinja is located below the Old Town of Uzice. It was built in 1900, and represents one of the symbols of the city. It is the first power plant made by Nikola Tesla’s principles of alternating current polyphase system in Europe and second in the world, only five years after the same one was built on the Niagara River in America. According to the recorded data from the 19th century, everything started from bakers who paid too much for their flour to the steam mill in another town, so they decided to build their own steam mill. They sought advice from their compatriot Stevan Cadjevic, the first engineer in Uzice, who, at that time,worked in the Ministry of Construction of the Kingdom of Serbia. The corner stone for the construction of the hydroelectric power plant on the River Djetinja was laid by King Aleksandar Obrenović, on 15thMay 1899. Equipment that enabled the application of Tesla’s principles in the operation of the power plant and the transmission of electricity was chosen by Djordje Stanojevic. Knowing the heavy weight of the equipment,which was to be delivered from Vienna to Uzice, the car was pulled by six pairs of oxen.
The square has always been a gathering place and a place for various cultural, entertainment or political events. It represents a framed architectural complex including a cinema, a theatre, public library, as well as many shops and cafés, and as such, it is a central gathering place for the city residents and guests. In the past, there was a bust of Josip Broz Tito on the square, but it was later removed to the courtyard of the National Museum in Uzice. In 1960s, the prestigious Parisian magazine ‘Architecture today’ wrote of it as a great example of urban architecture. In the late afternoon, part of the main street closes and turns into a promenade that is bustling with people until late in the evening.
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM
During the Second World War, the buildings of the present museum were used by the Supreme Court of NOPOJ and the Central Committee of Yugoslavia, while the underground facilities were used as a civilian shelter and partisan ammunition factory. The museum was founded in 1946. Today museum’s collections include over 70,000 museum exhibits. There are two permanent museum exhibitions and the legacy of the painter Mihailo Milovanović. Occasionally, special thematic exhibitions are organized.
Jokanović’s house is one of the few representative houses of the 19th century preserved, not only in Uzice, but also in the wider area. Due to its emphasized ethnographic characteristics, the building was declared to be a cultural heritage and a cultural monument. It has a permanent museum exhibition –‘Appearance of a town house in Uzice in the 19th century’.
THE RIVER DJETINJA
The River Djetinja is a left tributary of the West Morava River and it springs at the foot of the Shargan mountain pass.
In its central part it builds an attractive gorge. The gorge has been declared as a place of an exceptional landscape quality and is marked as a natural good of great importance. In the competition ‘The European Green Trail’, it was awarded and still represents an exceptionally attractive promenade and a meeting place for many recreationists of this city. Many activities like kayaking, cycling, electric scooters can be tried out on it, and visitors may enjoy a zip line ride crossing over this unique gorge. In the past, a narrow railroad and the famous “Ćira” train went through the Djetinja canyon. With the construction of a dam in the village of Vrutci, the railway stopped operating, and today it is a museum-tourist railway in Mokra Gora. Only 2 km up stream from Uzice, there is the Great Dam, which turns a part of the River Djetinja into a 1km-long lake. The dam is of the overflow type and creates an imposing sight. It was made at the beginning of the last century for the needs of the first hydroelectric power plant built under the Tesla’s principles in Europe.The whole area is very characteristic by dynamic morphology with numerous caves, sinkholes, ravines, rocks, etc.
Autochthony and wealth of the area is reflected in the presence of a large number of endemic, subendemic and relict plant species, and as regards the animal world, the fauna of diurnal butterfly stands out, which is one of the richest in Serbia – 17 species are on the list of Red books of daily butterflies of Serbia. The River Djetinja is a real mountain pearl, which is full of rapids, beeches and whirlpools, which hide capital specimens of brown trout, juveniles and grayling. The construction of a Neolithic settlement based on archaeological findings is in progress, and this unique museum is expected to become a part of the touristic offer soon.