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Draganac

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Draganac

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Draganac Monastery is close to the major city of Gnjlane. A Serbian Orthodox Monastery originally built in the 15th century, and currently home to a dozen or so monks. Local parishioners frequently visit the monastery for religious services or to converse with the monks, or to even stay with the monks for a short period of time. The monks themselves are very friendly and hospitable towards visitors. A stop at the monastery can easily coupled with a trip to Novo Brdo a once thriving medieval metropolis.

Get in[edit]

If you have a car, reaching Draganac from Gnjlane/Gjilan is a short 15 minute drive into the mountains. Take R213 towards Novo Brdo and turn right at the intersection by the large restaurant. Continue to the first left and the road will end at the entrance of the monastery.

There are no buses that go up towards Draganac and taxis can be rather expensive when going to locations off the main roads. If you are staying in one of the nearby Serbian towns such as Silovo, Ranilug, or Ropotovo chances are someone already going to the monastery will give you a ride or your host will arrange a ride for you.

For the more adventurous one can walk to Draganac from Gnjlane. From Stanishor there is a dirt path that parallels R213 that would be an excellent hiking trail minus the garbage, that leads up to the crossroad for Draganac. Expect the walk to take about 2 hours from Gnjlane. Hitchhiking is also a viable option, just ask to be dropped off at the large restaurant that you'll see on your left as you head up the road. From the restaurant take the road passing the small meatpackaging factory and take the left when you see the small sign pointing towards Draganac, Драганац in cyrillic.

See[edit][add listing]

The two chapels at the monastery contain beautiful frescos. The monastery is situated in one of the more pristine and remote mountain ranges in Kosovo. So hiking options are spectacular and the trails are devoid of any rubbish. The nearby village of Stari Draganac (Old Draganac) was abandoned in the aftermath of the war but the Monastery is in the process of buying up the land preserve the historical farmhouses. As of Summer of 2016 a group of international volunteers have cleared a dirt road to the village. The village contains some spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Currently (Summer 2016) there is one elderly gentleman who splits his time between his old home in Stari Draganac and Jagodina. He only speaks Serbian but will likely invite you over for some coffee and rakija.

Do[edit][add listing]

Liturgical services are held daily and visitors are free to attend. see this guide on what to expect during an Orthodox service if this is your first time attending. Both the monks and parishioners are typically very happy to have visitors attend service but do make sure you dress modestly.

Morning Service 6 am - 9:30 am Evening Service 6 pm - 7 pm

When you first arrive at the monastery you'll likely be ushered into a visiting room where you'll be offered coffee, tea, snacks and even some locally produced rakija or wine both of which are top notch. Feel free to talk with the monks and ask any questions you may have.

While not strictly expected, especially from foreign visitors, it's customary to bring vegetable oil, juice, soda, or honey to the monks for their own consumption or often to be served to other visitors.

Buy[edit][add listing]

You can purchase incense and jewelry bearing icons from the monastery.

Eat[edit][add listing]

After evening services dinner is served at 8 pm and the visitors from the evening service are encouraged to eat with the monks. Orthodox fasting rules apply to the monks year round so meals are vegetarian with the exception of fish. During normal fasting periods, the monks will eat a strictly vegan diet. Vegetarian or vegan travelers rejoice as this is probably one of the few places in the region where your eating habits will be understood and happily accommodated. The monks are exceptional cooks so expect a memorable meal.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

A guesthouse for visitors is under construction and is slated for completion in May 2015 and will be used for accommodations and for communal meals for visitors.

Stay Safe[edit]

As with many other rural locations in the region, you may encounter the a Sharr Mountain Dog guarding a flock of sheep or someone's property. The dogs are easily identifiable as being considerably larger than your typical stray dogs with a gray/black coast and wolf like appearance. Sharr Mountain Dogs are very intelligent and very good at their guardian roles. If they see you with their owners they're typically very friendly, if not they can be extremely territorial. As a rule of thumb, if one is barking at you just give it plenty of room and walk around whatever it's trying to guard whether it's a home or flock of sheep.

Contact[edit]

The monastery has a Facebook page. A few of the monks speak English and few others French along with Serbian. For English it's best to ask for Illarion or Sophronios.

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