As you walk between the wooden buildings in the Dobri Potok Church Park, a complex of parks, museums and church buildings, a few kilometers from Krupanj, a small town in western Serbia, you have the feeling that you are in another, more beautiful world.
Everything here is perfect, it seems, ancient and deep, spiritual and calm, sublime and beautiful.
Each building has its own purpose, and all together they fit perfectly into a whole that leaves every visitor breathless.
According to our host, Archpriest Aleksandar Đurđev, who invested 30 years of effort and knowledge to make this park look the way it looks today, people come here to enjoy, relax, but also to learn.
This beautiful place is located only about 140 kilometers from Belgrade, or about two and a half hours drive. This park was built around the church dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, the oldest church in Krupanj.
You enter the park through one of two gates – small or large. The white facade of the church emphasises a narthex made of oak and woodcarving. Above the church there is a bell tower, and right next to it there is a church house, which houses an ethno-museum, the endowment of the priest Đurđev. The port of the church is adorned with large, hundred-year-old linden trees, which contribute to the general atmosphere of peace and tranquillity that reigns here.
The place where the Church of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God is located today is called Dobri Potok (Good Creek), after the village of Dobri Potok, where the church was located at the beginning of the 16th century. This is the first church in Krupanj, and right next to it is the first Krupanj cemetery, about 5 centuries old. The church in Dobri Potok was burned by the Turks in 1771, and rebuilt from the beginning of the 19th century. It has the shape of a rectangle, 17 meters long and about 6 meters wide. The shingled roof is a little less than 9 meters high. The iconostasis that adorns the church today is half a century old – the icons were painted by the painter Živko Stojisavljević according to the plan of Dragomir Tadić in 1970, while the woodcut was made by the carpenter from Valjevo Blagoje Mitrović.
In the upper part of the complex, there is a replica of an old Serbian household from the centuries that are behind us… Various parts of it were carefully collected, in the surrounding villages, by Archpriest Đurđev, and then assembled into a harmonious whole.
Right next to the old household, there is a chapel carved into the rock, dedicated to the Holy Mother Paraskeva – Saint Petka, one of the greatest saints in Serbia. The feeling you have when you enter this chapel is quite unique, and we would not dare to try to retell it. It is something that simply must be felt on your skin. Everything else is insufficient.
Within the complex, visitors can also visit five museums, in which the past of this part of Serbia is exposed to the curious eye of the viewer. In the Museum of the Interior, you can step into a house that once existed in Western Serbia, and see all the objects that are now only museum exhibits, and used to be the basic means of human life.
In the Museum of Beekeeping you will attend the history of the development of this craft, in the Museum of Saint Sava’s Children you will see the conditions in which children once grew up here, in the Museum of Hunting you will meet stuffed animals characteristic of this area, and in the Museum of Old Crafts you will see tools and products.
A particularly interesting and valuable part of the park is the old cemetery, the first and oldest in Krupanj, where the old inhabitants of Krupanj have been buried for centuries.
Near the museum there is another chapel carved into the rock, perhaps even more powerful than the chapel of St. Petka – the chapel of St. Procopius. The scene you will find here and the feeling you will have is also something that eludes words.
And if at any time you want to simply sit and rest, and enjoy the fresh air, beautiful nature and peace that has reigned here for centuries, there are many places to rest within the park, and in them perfect, just perfect tranquility…
This text is part of the project “Dobri potok – Pride of Krupanj” and was co-financed by the municipality of Krupanj.
(Come to Serbia)