Kragujevac is one of the largest cities in Serbia and the administrative centre of the Šumadija District. It is located in the valley of the river Lepenica , surrounded by the slopes of Mt. Rudnik , Mt. Crni Vrh and Gledić mountains .
The name Kragujevac comes from ’’kraguj’’ , the Serbian name for cinereous vulture . In the Middle Ages, this bird was used for hunting , these days is represented on the city’s coat of arms .
Kragujevac has been thought of as Serbia’s ’’number one ’’ city at various times in history :
- it became the first modern Serbian capital when Milos Obrenovic restored Serbian statehood ( 1818/1841. )
- the first Serbian constitution the Sretenje Constitution was proclaimed in the city ( 1835 )
- the first newspapers in Principalities of Serbia ( 1834 )
- Serbia’s first grammar school founeded in 1833
- first university ( 1838 )
- first theatre ( 1834 )
- the country’s first court of law was established here ( 1820 )
- first pharmacy
- the first cannon was cast in 1853
- first aquarium…
Today you can be briefly transported to those bygone times by taking a relaxing stroll and visiting the cultural and historic complex called ’’Milosev venac’’ , comprising the Old Church built in 1818 and the Assembly building from 1856.
During World War I, the seat of many state institutions – the Supreme Army Command was housed within the court house buliding .
October in Kragujevac Memorial Park , also known as Šumarice Memorial Park ,is a memorial complex erected to commemorate the innocent victims. Among the dead were hundreds of high school students . As you walk through the park , you will see many monuments, the most striking of which is the Monument of Executed Pupils, which commemorates the 5th grade pupils of a primary school in Kragujevac who were executed by German forces . The white concrete slab split in two is shaped like the Roman number V, which transforms into a bird with broken wings-a symbolic representation of youth tragically cut short as it was preparing to fly out of the parent’s nest .
After a tour of the landmarks of modern Serbian statehood situated at very heart of the city, you can relax at one of the many cafes, coffee houses and restaurants nearby .
Foremer forests have been replaced with vineyards and orchards , yielding fruits used in the production of wine and the plum brandy known as šljivovica .
The Šumadija region is also famous for a drink known as the ’’Šumadija tea ’’- mild šljivovica brandy boliled in water and caramelised sugar . While it’s usually drunk during the colder months , you simply must taste it no matter what time of the year you visit Kragujevac.
Kragujevac is also the venue of numerous culture events, most notably the celebration of :
- The City Day ( May 6th )
- Great School Class ( October 21st – peacetime reminder of the massacre of schoolchildren by German forces )
- Arsenal fest ( at the end of june )
- Fica fest
- Joakim fest…
And for the end we will quote Czech historian Konstantin Jireček :
” Belgrade is Europe , but if you want to see a true Serbian town , visit Kragujevac . ”