Rtanj mountain – the energy of brand new experience
Rtanj mountain is one of the most beautiful, the most challenging and definitely the most mysterious Serbian mountain. It is located some 200 km southeast of Belgrade and a hundred kilometers from Nis, near the town of Boljevac. Rising from the plain, this 1,565 meters high mountain majestically dominates the entire region. Anyone who carefully looks at the highest peak, Siljak, has to notice how much this mountain resembles the perfect, three-sided pyramid.
At the top of Rtanj, the remains of a chapel can be found. The chapel was built in memory of Julius Minh, former owner of the mine Rtanj, and was consecrated to St. George. There are several ways to reach Siljak peak, and the most frequently climbed path goes from Rtanj village, across the south side and is about seven kilometers long. Experienced mountaineers say this is the second most difficult mountain to climb in Serbia. However, the RtanjAdventure team promises that with us every person of average fitness and good health can climb to the top in three to four hours!
The lower part of the mountain, up to 900 meters above sea level, is covered with beech and oak forest, while at higher altitudes vegetation is presented with low shrubs and grass. Plants on Rtanj mountain are unique and recognizable by its bright colors and pleasant smell. They grow in an ecologically well-preserved and healthy environment, with plenty of sun all day long. plenty of them are medicinal plants, such as thyme, yarrow, St John’s wort, and, of course, the autochthonous Rtanj tea, one and only, unique and authentic.
The history of Rtanj is associated with the village of the same name, founded by a wealthy family of Jewish industrialists, Minh. The father of the family, Samuil, was the owner of the Paracin Textile Factory. Following the advice of his eldest son, Julius, he started investing in the mines near Cicevac, Aleksinac and, finally, on Rtanj. The first mine was opened in 1902, where the first-class stone coal was exploited. With breaks during the Balkan Wars, the mine worked until 1941, when the Germans occupied it during the Second World War. During the First World War, the Germans also occupied the mine, and managed it from 1915 to 1918. When they withdrew in 1918, they did their best to leave ruins behind – the machines were destroyed, and the mine was flooded.
The period between the two world wars was marked by tremendous progress of the mining village Rtanj. For the wellbeings on the workers and their families, the Minhs built apartments, organized a private school, infirmary and the cinema. Back then, to have a cinema was a rarity even in the larger cities. Minh family provided scholarships for talented students and paid great attention to the arrangement of the village. In a huge park-forest on some 40 hectares, about 150 species of trees and ornamental plants were grown. There was also a Rosarium as well as the greenhouse.
A chapel at the top of the mountain
Julius Minh died in 1931 under mysterious circumstances. Some people say that he committed suicide. His wife, Greta, organized the construction of a chapel at the of Rtanj, as an eternal memory of her beloved husband. It was not easy to do so. It was necessary to carry a ton of stone up to the 1,565 meters high top of the mountain. The chapel was built by 1,000 workers, with the help of residents of Rtanj village, who loved and respected the Minh family. The St George chapel was consecrated in 1936.
Unfortunately, Rtanj village, as well as the mountain itself, looks quite different nowadays. The mine has not worked for decades. There are fewer and fewer inhabitants, with no shop or restaurant in the village. The beautiful rosarium with more than 3,000 roses is a ruin. The most tragic if the fact that even the chapel itself was not spared of human stupidity and ignorance. It has been blown away by the „treasure hunters”. Needless to say, the treasure was never found. From what was once a magnificent chapel, only a part of eastern wall has remained.
Legends about Rtanj
Many myths revolve around Rtanj mountain. One of them says that before it became mountain, Rtanj was a huge castle where a wizard lived. Before he died, the wizard hid his gold and jewels deep inside the mountain… Sadly, this legend was one of the reasons for „treasure hunters” to blow up the chapel.
If you talk to the local people, quite often you will hear that Rtanj is not mountain at all! But a structure made by humans – a pyramid, the largest one in the world! It is easy to believe in this story. Rtanj’s peak indeed has a form of a three-sided pyramid, whose angles and edges are in perfect proportions. In fact, the whole mountain magnificently rises from the plain and dominates the entire region. It is a pure pleasure to look at it from all four sides of the world. After all, Jovan Cvijic had a really good reason to say it is one of the most beautiful Serbian mountains.
Rtanj is one of the favorite subjects among locals and people really like to talk about it. You can hear almost everything, even that it is neither a mountain nor a pyramid, but an alien base! Strange events around mountain support such stories. Science can not prove the existence of „fiery flying balls” or anything similar. But, various measurements have shown that in the surrounding area there is some radiation with a positive effect on human health.
Rtanj is a mountain that you simply have to explore, and those who visit it, will always look forward to returning.