Novi Pazar is a multicultural and multi-ethnic historical city in southwestern part of Serbia, close to the borders with Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia, and it's the capital of Sanjak region. Therefore, the city feels different (or let's say more oriental) comparing to other cities in Serbia. Predominant religion in the city is Islam (80%), although many historical monuments from both Islam and Orthodox Christianity can be found in the city, and in the region. Ras, the capital city of the Principality of Serbia from 8th century, is found near the city and it's one of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Serbia. An impressive group of medieval monuments consisting of fortresses, churches and monasteries show connection to the rich history of the whole region.
The impressive collection of three ecclesiastical monuments dating from the 10th to the 13th centuries eminently illustrates the birth of artistic activity in medieval Serbia, which attained the highest standards in the art and culture of the Byzantine Empire and the regions of Central and Southeastern Europe. The unique architectural complex formed by numerous structures in Stari Ras (Old Ras), situated at a crossroads of eastern and western influences,testifies to the period from 12th to the early 14th centuries when the ancient town was the first capital of the Serbian state. - from official UNESCO site.
About 10 km from the city, there are ruins of the first Serbian capital of Ras, founded in 8th century, and listed as UNESCO site (together with several other monasteries). Thirty minutes walk uphill will bring you to the old fortification "Gradina" which overlooks the whole valley.
Also known as Church of St. Peter (Црква Светог Петра), is the oldest intact Serbian Orthodox church in Serbia, and one of the oldest ones in the Balkan region. It dates from 8th century, although it's built on the foundation from the 4th century. It's about 3 km from the town center, and to get in you have to ask for a key from the nearby house. 1 euro entrance fee is being charged to foreign visitors.
Together with Stari Ras, this incredible monastery was also included as UNESCO heritage site. It was built in 13th century near the source of river Raska. Sopocani monastery is a reminder of the contacts between Western civilization and the Byzantine world. It's about 15 km from the city center.
Many hills surround the town of Novi Pazar. At the top of one of them there's a small pine forest which hides impressive 12th century monastery with unique architectural style, built by the Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja. 4 km from the city center.
Built in 15th century, by Isa beg Ishaković. At first, the settlement was made of wood, but later replaced with stones and made into fortifications. The fortress consists of three polygonal bastions, two octagonal towers and a moat. One tower at the northern bastion was destroyed in the First World War.
Amir-Aga's Han is one of the two preserved inns (han) and its beauty surpasses the other. It is situated in the city center and it dates from 17th century. In its architectural characteristics it differs from the typical buildings of the kind. It was built to host the merchants on their travels from Istanbul to Dubrovnik in the past.
Turkish Bath is in the city center. It was built in the 15th century as an endowment of Isa-bey Ishakovic, the founder of the City of Novi Pazar. It is a rare example of symmetrical structure with the facilities for simultaneous bathing for men and women.
It is one of the most famous mosques from the Ottoman sacred edifices and is situated in the enclosed area that also includes a religious school. It was built by a famous master builder Abdul Gani in the 16th century. It has a dome and a spacious porch covered with cupolas, which was built in a different way at that time. The interior consists of an nicely shaped niche and a wooden gallery.
About 35 km from the city, near the village of Ribarice (before border of Montenegro), there's an unusual 14th century hillside monastery built inside the rock. The main church lies inside the cave, and it's connected by the tunnel from the outside. Being hidden inside the forest, it is considered as the only monastery that was never damaged in Serbian history.
Uvac river canyon valley lies some 60 km to the west of Novi Pazar (in Sjenica municipality). The major value of canyon parts of the river valley are curving meanders. Relative height of meander heads is 100m at some places. Canyon is surrounded by karst surface with numerous karst formations: karst plains, karst depressions, karst sinkholes, rock shelters, caves and potholes. There are 104 bird species living here, the most important being griffon vulture.
Novi Pazar is a relaxing city. Enjoy the slow day in the main square, and play chess with friendly locals.
Mantiye: delicious local pastry with meat, served with yogurt.
Novi Pazar Greeters- To connect with a local for a cup of coffee or go for a walk around the city, check out Novi Pazar Greeters, a free volunteer greeter service. The website offers additional information for your stay and things to do, and Greeters serve as great resources for visitors.
Buses to Belgrade (290km), Nis (186km) and Kosovska Mitrovica (160km) are regular, and going few times per day. Kopaonik National park is not far from here (50km), and it's recommendable for all lovers of nature and skiing.