Situated in the far east of Serbia by the Romanian border sits the petite city of Vrsac. As part of my endeavours to see more of Serbia, I chose to venture out to see what the city was like. Not burdened with much information, Vrsac was pretty much a mystery to me. What I found there was another pleasant little Serbian city with hints of former glory. The chance to hike up to a scenic castle overlooking the town really sealed Vrsac as a memorable, off the beaten path destination.
City of Vrsac
Probably not all that surprising, Vrsac is a modest and compact city, home to 40,000 residents. The city centre is easily navigated on foot and features several elegant, traditional buildings. In front of many of these you’ll find bars and cafes, as is the Balkan way. If you’ve spent any time in the Vojvodina region of Serbia, the city will feel quite familiar.
One particularly eye-catching building is the sizeable City Hall. With its unusual brown and white colour scheme, the city hall is a pretty great example of Serbian reserved elegance. Another striking example nearby is the old pharmacy building that dates from the 18th century. For some unknown reason, I managed to miss the city’s main heritage building, the Bishop’s Court.
What makes Vrsac quite easy to walk about is its collection of squares, parks and pedestrian streets. The main pedestrian area is Svetog Teodora Vrsackog Square which also hosts a market on weekends. The flower columns give the square some real vibrancy during spring and summer, especially for those sitting in the nearby outdoor cafe seating. Only a block away is Ruski Park, another pleasant green space lined with dignified buildings.
Another of Vrsac’s big landmarks is the city’s Roman Catholic Cathedral. The building’s tall twin spires are immediately noticeable no matter where you are. The rose window and cathedral interior were also far more ornate than first impressions would suggest.
Climbing up to Vrsac Castle
After wandering through the city centre, it was time to go see Vrsac Castle. Resting atop Vrsac Hill to the east of the city, the castle is just a speck from the city below. After passing the city’s sporting complex, a series of staircases take you through the outer neighbourhoods and into the countryside above. The first signposts to the castle are only visible once you climb your way up to Calvary Chapel Church.
After the church, the signposts lead you along a road a while before presenting you with options. If you look at Google Maps, you’ll see a road that winds the long way round to the castle, as well as a shorter dirt track that goes the other way. Having walked both ways, I’d recommend taking the dirt track.
Part of the way up, you’ll inexplicably find yourself outside a bar, Klub Izazov. Even only half way up the mountain, the views you’re treated to are really quite something. Vrsac sits on the immense Pannonian Plain that was once a prehistoric sea, so the view appears to go on forever. Positioned in front of the city centre are the lower foothills and chapels that you pass on your way up.
To reach Vrsac Castle, simply continue past the bar and head into the woods. The trail up is quite clear and before you know it you’ll be at the castle car park. Just a short climb further and you’re at the Vrsac Castle. Small but full of character, the castle dating from the 15th century is also known as Vrsac Tower. From the ruined walls you can expect to see more great views out over the city.
It seems that it is from the mountain top that the local adventure junkies go paragliding. I can imagine that soaring above the hills and forest while you look out to the city is just magical. Having been paragliding in Turkey years ago, I would have been tempted if I knew in advance.
- Vrsac is reachable by regular buses from Belgrade and is connected to the Romanian city of Timisoara by train. Visiting by car seems to be the best way to reach Vrsac and would allow you to visit some of the region’s wineries as well.
- There aren’t too many options for accommodation in Vrsac, but there are enough to choose from. While affordable, my stay at Stari Mlin involved quite a lot of noise at all hours from its function hall.
- If you want to taste some local food, then the Dinar Restaurant is a great choice. This traditional, ethnographic restaurant was packed with locals and had a great feel to it. The pizza at Kontrast was pretty tasty too.
Have you heard of Vrsac or know of others like it in the Balkans? What most interests you about the city of Vrsac? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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