Jastrebac mountain has one of the thickest forest covers in this part of Europe and is also one of the oldest mountains in Serbia, emerging as a huge island from the sea as early as the Tertiary Period.
Legend has it that it owes its thick forest and the name itself to a northern goshawk (jastreb in Serbian), who threw seeds around the whole area from the twigs he had collected to build his nest. It is believed that the plants, the grass and the trees that adorn its slopes to this day all sprung from those seeds.
It is a short 20-minute drive from the old capital of Serbia, Kruševac. The mountain welcomes visitors with its two peaks (Đulica and Pogled), which bask in sunshine all the year round. The defining physical feature of Jastrebac is its vast plateau with a man-made reservoir. Thanks to its mild climate, fresh air streams and diverse flora and fauna, the mountain provides ample opportunities for holidays and mountaineering.Its landscapes are equally inviting for other nature lovers – hikers, cyclists, as well as all those who simply want a getaway from crowded cities.
As the mountain with the thickest forest cover in this part of the Balkans, Jastrebac is home to many deciduous and coniferous species, while its meadows are lush with rare and endemic plants. Here you can see species of international importance, such as Heldreich’s maple, ruscus, common holly and European hornbeam.
Jastrebac is also one of the few Serbian mountains with large forests of paper birch, a species distinguished by its beautiful, snowy-white bark. To prevent the disappearance of the species, which has become an emblem of this mountain, Serbia has declared it a protected species.
On the mountain’s plateaus you can also find various forest species, especially mushrooms and herbs. This makes Jastrebac an excellent spot not only for exploring, but also for collecting these “forest gems”.
The diverse animal world on Jastrebac is completed by game – red deer, boars, rabbits, badgers, martens and other animals. Winged poultry is equally diverse: you will be able to see numerous flocks of grey heron, white and black stork, pheasant, partridge and mallard.
The man-made lake near the mountain’s peak attracts visitors in the summer with its crystal-clear water and the pristine nature that surrounds it. And as Jastrebac is abundant in water, in its rivers and streams you can even find crabs and trout!
The most beautiful part of the mountain and a favourite picnic spot for the people of Kruševac and its wider area is Ravanište.
The flat part of the mountain is home to a man-made lake, three hotels, many holiday cottages and sports courts. The lake is an ideal spot both for swimming in crystal-clear waters and for enjoying a barbecue or picnic.
The peaks of this mountain are a magnet for mountaineers, as they offer the opportunity to enjoy walks through dense forests near numerous streams and springs. Popular hiking trails will take you to peaks such as Bele stene (1257m), Stracimira (1390m) and Maznice (1140m), as well as to mountain springs – “Major’s Fountain” (Majorova česma) and the “Fountain of Two Little Sisters” (Dve sestrice).
You can also walk along trails to visit some of the historic landmarks, including the Church of Saint Paraskevi and the medieval fortress of Gradac. During winter months, visitors can use a ski lift and a 300-metre ski slope - ideal for beginners.
Extreme sport enthusiasts will enjoy riding mountain bikes on the trail named “Jastrebac Triangle”, which connects the Jastrebac Mountaineering Hut, Ribarska banja spa at the foot of the mountain and the village of Svarča in the valley of the river Toplica.
At the foot of the mountain lies Ribarska banja, one of the oldest spas in Serbia, known, among other things, as the favourite health resort of the Serbian royal house of Karađorđević. Due to its proximity to Jastrebac, many people choose to enrich their holiday by treating themselves to at least one spa weekend.
The city of Kruševac, the medieval Serbian capital, is also in the vicinity of Jastrebac. The city where the country’s most important decisions of the 13th Century were made, contains well-preserved landmarks from this era. The archaeological park of Lazarev grad, with the remains of the medieval fortress and the Lazarica church, built to celebrate the birth of Prince Lazar’s firstborn son, are the best-preserved monuments of this region.
In Kruševac, art lovers can view the works of one of the most important 20th Century Serbian artists, Milić of Mačva. Because of his surrealist pictures with vivid colours, he has been nicknamed “Serbian Dali”.
Wine connoisseurs will enjoy visiting one of the best wine regions in the country, the famous Župa of Aleksandrovac. At the local wine cellars, you can sample wines made of native Serbian grape varieties – Prokupac, Smederevka, Začika, Plovdina and Tamjanika. While in Aleksandrovac, be sure to visit the Viticulture and Wine Museum, which displays artefacts that bear witness to the development of this region.