It is said that a caravan was passing by what is now known as Banja Koviljaca, a healing resort in the west of Serbia near the town of Loznica. Wanting to rest, traders stopped by the sulfur water well. One of the horses was very ill, and they left him to die there, in the hot water.
The caravan went on, and the horse remained, awaiting death.
When they returned the same way, after a few weeks, the merchants saw a scene they never dreamed they would be seeing. The horse, which had long been written off, stood near the place where they had left it, strong and completely healthy, grazing.
The story of this wonderful power of the healing springs of the Koviljaca Spa quickly spred in the Balkans, and one of the most famous spas and resorts in this part of Europe was born.
Historians claim that people came to this place for treatment even during the Illyrian era, before the Slavs came to the Balkans in the 7th century. The first written records about the spa, from 1533, say that even then, people came to this place to be treated with the “healing water”.
However, it took more than three centuries until the Koviljaca Spa began to gain its present splendor. It was not until 1858 that the first guesthouse was built, which had 10 rooms. It was also written that “doctors are obliged to supervise the sick in the spa during the summer and to prescribe them water, according to the rules of medicine.”
The spa itself is located right next to the Drina River, on the border of Serbia with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and just below Gucevo Mountain. Not far, within a five minute drive, is Loznica, one of the largest and most important cities in Western Serbia. Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is about a two-hour drive away.
The Spa experiencing great development since 1867, when Prince Mihailo Obrenovic placed it under protection of the state. Since then, until today, there is a constant build-up of tourist visits, and the tradition of treatment with thermomineral sulfur water and peloid therapy continues. In addition, this spa is now known for physical therapy and rehabilitation of all kinds.
The most famous people in the history of Serbia came to Banja Kovijaca to be treated there or just to enjoy its beauties. Dositej Obradovic, Vuk Karadzic, Karadjordje Petrovic and later rulers from the Obrenovic and Karadjordjevic dynasties also came there.
In 1908, King Peter I Karadjordjevic built a sulfur bath near his residence in the spa. Since then, there was a period of great construction in Koviljaca Spa, many luxury villas and hotels were built, and the park that now dominates in this place got its present form. The central building, known as the Kursalon, became a trademark and a major entertainment venue in this town since 1939, and is also known for operating the first casino in this part of Europe.
Surely the biggest attraction of Spa Koviljaca is the 40-hectare park, modeled after the most famous parks in Europe. In the center of this beautiful promenade, always full of people, is a large fountain, often visited by Koviljaca guests for hours.
About 80 species of trees are planted in the park, and the flower arrangements are worthy of royal courts. Walking through this park is an unforgettable experience, and there are few who leave without carrying a precious memory.
The story about how this spa got its name is interesting. At first it was called “Smelly Spa” after the smell of sulfur springs and medicinal mud, and only in 1909 was it renamed Koviljaca Spa. There were supposedly two sisters who once had a rich father, who lived near, and he left them a great treasure to do something good with it. The older sister, Vida, went to the mountain and built a town called Vidojevica, while the younger, Koviljka, stayed at the foot of Gucevo Mountain, and decided to build a settlement there – Koviljka’s town.
Legend has it that Koviljka drank the waters of an unpleasant odor from one of the springs, and the people did so after her, and soon noticed that the water was medicinal. In honor of her, they named this place Koviljaca.
This text is part of the project “Seven Wonders of Miracle”, co-funded by the City of Loznica.
(Come to Serbia)