Crkveno or Čajkino brdo is a volcanic rock in the heart of Banja which has been declared a spatial cultural-historical unit thanks to its unique vegetation, geomorphological forms, and spatial position. There is a story about this beautiful hill in the center of Banja, whose changing name throughout history depicted epochs from Krš (karst) to Stena (rock), through Crkveno (church), Aleksandrovo, to Čajkino hill.
As “Banja i turizam” newspaper has had its headquarters here since its foundation in 1929, it has been visited by tourism representatives from other places similar to ours. Touring and sighting Banja with the then-mayor and tourist workers, they stood in front of the hill. Amazed by its beauty, they commented: “Well, you Banja townsmen move mountains to attract guests,” thinking the hill was brought as part of our propaganda.
The summer stage was renovated in 2017 and has 1,500 seats. The people of Vrnjačka Banja have always nurtured culture, and the summer stage is a place that has attracted many visitors over the years, both from the surroundings of Vrnjačka Banja and beyond.
In memory of the great Serbian actor Danilo Bata Stojković, his Memorial Room was opened within the amphitheater that has been named after him since 2010. That is how the most valuable of his possessions became available to the public. The Memorial Room on the Vrnjačka Summer Stage symbolizes the tie between the legendary actor and the most famous Serbian spa. The giant whose appearance used to gravitate crowds toward the Spa is still alive for the people of Vrnjačka Banja. And they still see him in a room filled with his books and personal belongings.
In this room, visitors and admirers of Bata’s character and work will be able to see his personal belongings – suit, ties, cigar holder and pipe, ashtray from Atelier 212, umbrella, cane, original scripts for s legendary roles, books he loved to read, favorite armchair, newspaper clippings, photographs from filming and theater performances, some of the many significant awards and recognitions.
Crkveno brdo stretches over 24 hectares. Its rich vegetation boasts 173 plant species. Oak and Turkey oak communities around the spa church with specimens over 100 years old are its most significant wealth. There are 49 buildings protected as cultural and historical monuments on Čajkino brdo. Most of these buildings are villas. There is also the parish house, amphitheater, and the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God, the oldest architecturally significant building in the spa.
The underground tunnel dates back to World War II and is open to visitors after almost 80 years. It is a tunnel located under the famous summer stage.
The new tourist attraction, 130 meters long, is enriched with contents from the history of this place. After the reconstruction, visitors will have the opportunity to get a picture of the spa’s development from the Roman period, through the Turkish and German occupations, to the present day, thanks to the exhibited models and objects. Furthermore, these exhibition spaces will present numerous weapons, cannons, rifles, crossbows, tools, armors, German and partisan uniforms, and various objects found during archeological excavations.
The tunnel will retain its authenticity following the Institute for the Protection of Monuments provisions. Certain parts will be repaired primarily to ensure the safety of visitors.
The tunnel was planned to be a shelter for the German General Staff for Southeast Europe. The excavation began in 1942 and was led by General Alexander Löhr, commander of German troops in the Balkans and Southeast Europe, leader of the Operation Rösselsprung, and commander of the April 6 Belgrade bombing. Interestingly, the tunnel was broken through only in 1944, after a year and a half, when the two teams met in the middle of Crkveno brdo, digging each on its side at the same time. There are seven rooms in the tunnel. The second started tunnel arm in the direction of the market on one side, and villa “Peć” on the other, was not completed.
Villa “Turkulović,” which changed its name after World War II and is today called Villa “Partizanka,” is connected by the tunnel with Crkveno brdo and the former German headquarters. Villa Turkulović is known as the place where Operation Rösselsprung was planned. It was led from this villa by famous Otto Skorzeny.
The “Muse with the Phoenix” monument was erected in 1984 after the idea of Boško Ruđičanin and was brought to life by sculptor Dragaša Obradović. It was set on Crkveno brdo, above the main spa square, where the “Great Poetry Meeting” had been held since 1919 with the participation of about twenty poets. In 1988, the bronze figure was a stylized representation of a girl in a step forward, holding a bird in her hand – a phoenix. It symbolizes Euterpe, the muse of poetry.
With the reconstruction of Crkveni brdo in 2018, an artificial waterfall was created, which has certainly become one of the biggest tourist attractions of Vrnjačka Banja.
A must for lovers of photography, but also the starting point of the Boško Ruđičanin trail leading to the “Danilo Bata Stojković” Amphitheater. Boško Ruđičanin was an honored citizen of Vrnjačka Banja, a poet, and long-term head of the Cultural Center in Vrnjačka Banja, the founder of the Film Screenplay Festival, and the editor of the Zamak kulture magazine.
On Crkveno brdo, there is a fully arranged 3 km long pedestrian trail named after Patriarch Pavle. In addition, the park area abounding with plants has been revamped.