In the heart of the Leskovac valley, on the small river of Veternica, near its point of confluence with Southern Morava, lies the city of Leskovac. Its punjab (meeting point of five rivers) is a very rare geographic phenomenon in the world. Leskovac has some of that, so historically, it was place of meeting for many people, folks and customs. However, it kept recognizable spirit – witty, quick, sharp when needed, and inhabitants full of life who have thousands of jokes about themselves.
Leskovac is first mentioned as a settlement in Glbočica region, which was given as a gift to Stefan Nemanja from Greek tzar Manojlo in 13th century. Dardanians, Avars, Celts, Romans, Byzantines, all of them lived, led wars, and left traces here. Archaeological remains from that period have been found on the hill of Hisar and nearby area. Those collections are in Leskovac Museum. One of the most well-known locations is Queens City Justiniana Prima.It was built by Byzantine emperor Justinian as a sign of gratitude to his place of birth.
The thing for which Leskovac is famous for is Leskovac grilled meat, made from special beef and spices mixture. The original recipe is kept secret, and still hasn’t left the city. Leskovac Grill Festival an homage to this kind of food. It is a seven-day festival which attracts large number of visitors every year. Every august, a smoke cloud is spread from Main street with beautiful scent of ćevaps, burgers (pljeskavica), sausages, meatballs, mućkalica and other grilled delicatesses. Main attraction is making of burger for world Guinness record, the biggest in the world. It is made every year by grill maestros during the Grill Fest.
Septembar is the time for making of “zimnica“ (winter food). Central, almost ritual event is making of ajvar (side dish made of peppers). Leskovac region is a big producer of quality pepper, so ajvar is made in almost every house. That day, friends gather in backyard for talk and glass of rakija ( Slivovitza ), and with beautiful smell of baked peppers, this speciality is made. Every housewife is proud of her ajvar, so wherever you go, you will get a jar.
Interesting things about Leskovac
• Leskovac got its name from the hazelnut tree (leska), more than 600 years ago. In middle ages it was called Dubočica (swamp), and in Turkish era it was called Hisar (fortress).
• If you are invited to a wedding in this town, two days before the ceremony all the female guests go to the „combing“, a one-of-a-kind, emotional bachelorette party, which is a unique tradition that dates back from ancient times. This is just one of the many customs that cannot be found in the other parts of the country.
• Standard sizes of Leskovac burger (pljeskavica) are „five-ćevaps sized“ (small) and „ten ćevaps sized“ (big). So, the locals have a saying in their spirit: „Five ćevaps are always five ćevaps, but five-ćevaps sized patty is never like five ćevaps“
When you try all the specialties, you can stroll to city park and Toma Zdravković monument, the legendary singer and bohemian from this region. Near is Shop-Djokic’s House, an old building from the Turkish period, which has original look, furniture and objects preserved inside.
Leskovac is surrounded by near the city and easy accessible natural beauties. Vlasina Lake’s floating islands are an eye candy, set in relaxing area which was inspiration to many poets and painters. Kukavica Mountains great for hiking. Its forests, creeks, wells and rich animal and plant life represent the true, untouched nature. Sijarinska banja (spa resort) and its hot geysers and spa centers will make you relaxed and healthier.
Leskovac today is a city of green energy. Complex water systems, solar energy facilities and active recycling enables healthier and safer life in the city. Leskovac also holds a clinic by Dr Miodrag Stojković, world famous scientist, which is specialised in area of artificial insemination and sterility treating. People from all over the Europe come here for therapy.
You will be touched by the hospitality and openness of people of Leskovac and you’ll want to stay just a little bit more, so you can hear another story of old Leskovac, learn some new word or eat five more ćevaps.
How to get to Leskovac?
Leskovac is 275km from Belgrade. You can get to Leskovac via highway E75, after the exit which is approximately 37km after Niš. You can also take one of the regular bus rides from every bigger city in Serbia.
While you are here, do not miss…
-International barbecue days (begins the last week of August-until mid-September)
-International film directing festival LIFFE (every september)
-Making of zimnica, especially making of ajvar in every households at the beginning of autumn
-A great number of taverns throughout the day, and clubs during the night will set you for the unforgettable southern entertainment.
-„Leskovac Summer“ and „Leskovac Carnival“, festivities that are held during the summer. They attract great number of young people and they offer wide range of cultural, entertainment and sports activities
Text copied from www.serbia.com