Rtanj is the mountain in Serbia shrouded in various legends and storied that several decades ago had even attracted famous British SF author Arthur Clarke.
The Rtanj Mountain is one of the string of pearls of beauty in eastern Serbia. Besides legends, there actual written records of Roman legionaries coming here after battles, because their wounds would heal faster. Today, there are reliable findings about the winds rose that makes this area very healthy. It was the motive for the building of the Ethno Cetner Rtanj-Balasevic in the foot of the mountain, which represents an oasis within oasis. Architecturally it is fully adapted to the surrounding landscape, and along with the hotel, whose appearance reminds of folk building traditions, while offering full comfort, there are also dozen authentic houses – more then a century old, and brought from the surrounding settlements. The ethno center offers its guests active vacation through hiking, tennis, volleyball, football, paragliding, while organized for hunters are drives after wild boars, wild goats, sheep, deer and pheasants.
Rtanj stands as the gate to eastern Serbia. Some 200 km away from Belgrade, it is close to the town of Paracin and Sokobanja spa, archaeological site Felix Romuliana, as well as the famous Rajac cellars, a unique wine town in Europe.
The mountain is part of the Carpathian system and is a limestone massive shaped like a pyramid. Due to its unusual shape and existing magnetic and gravity deviations, the planes do not fly over this area, and Rtanj has the aura of mysticism. The local inhabitants will say it is not a coincidence, because there is often a cloud standing over the mountain as an aureole. Among the plethora of legends, most frequent is the one about the great treasure of a wizard being hidden deep in the mountain. It is possible that the legend stems from the fact that before WWII there was a mine in Rtanj, property of Jew Julius Minh. The memory of his and his wife’s generosity is preserved by the locals to this day, as they regularly visit the chapel dedicated to St. George, built on the Siljak summit, which is the highest point on Rtanj at 1,570m.
It is interesting that the northern and southern sides of the mountain differ greatly in flora and fauna. Northern slopes rise steeply from the Crna Reka valley, and almost vertical cliffs are an ideal habitat for birds of a prey. The northern side also has harsher climate, thus preserving some relict plants, dating back to the distant past of our planet.
Owing to milder climate, the southern slopes are covered in meadows, and growing on them are blackberries, mountain mint and an endemic species of carnation. However, by far best known plant is the so-called Rtanj tea. According to oral history, it was grown centuries ago by Turks in their harems, after the liberation from their rule in the 19th century, the herb was brought to Rtanj and planted on the altitude of 1,000 meters, as it only grows there. Early august is the harvesting time for this plan, and on that occasion the local tourist association organizes a picnic and an outdoor lunch.
Since the middle of the 20th century Rtanj is under the protection of the national institute for nature protection. They care of each plant species, aiming to preserve and protect them, although this is one of the rare parts of Serbia where not much has been commercialized. And even when some construction works are permitted, traditions are respected and environment protection obeyed.