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Krupaj Spring


What this petite karst spring lacks in size, it makes up for with its fairytale mettle. According to Vlach folklore, Serbia’s Homolje mountains gulped down a bunch of gold then hid it in a cave beneath a spring some 2.5 hours outside Belgrade. The buried treasure is protected by a fierce water spirit named Tartor, who once a year gives fair maidens an opportunity to dig for the riches. No one has found it yet, and legend has it a pretty young thing must be sacrificed to appease the money-grubbing mountains. 

Of course, the spring draws travelers for another reason: its knockout beauty. The egg-shaped pond is tucked beneath a limestone massif near the Krupaj River. Ducks bob on its mirror-like surface while fish swim below, sometimes in schools so dense the azure water turns charcoal black. Krupaj’s dam and waterfall look especially enchanting when the sun catches the water just right — indeed, a romance novelist couldn’t conjure a more idyllic setting. The mystery deepens below the surface, where scuba divers once uncovered a maze of canals more than 400 feet underwater.

Where To Stay

Charming guesthouse Lisinski Raj is plonked right next to Veliki Buk, a thundering waterfall in Strmosten, some 20 miles away. The B & B’s onsite restaurant — known for its warm service and authentic home cooking — is built partially inside a cave.

Good To Know

Most visitors come to the spring for a stroll and a picnic. It’s rare to see swimmers, as the average temperature is a teeth-clattering 50°F. A nearby cafe, however, has a thermal mineral pool whose waters are an inviting 80°F. Pack a swimsuit if you want to take a dip.

Don’t Miss

Check out Manasija, a 15th century Serbian Orthodox monastery in Despotovac, situated about half an hour from the spring. It’s a brilliant example of Morava ecclesiastical architecture.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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