Drvengrad, a wooden city where dreams live
Probably you don’t know that you could go up in the Serbian mountains and visit famous Serbian director Emir Kusturica’s home. Last summer when I was lucky enough to spend 2 whole weeks in the National Park Tara we made a day trip to Drvengrad.
Now don’t start imagining big fancy houses, 14 parked cars in front and all that jazz. After all, this is the Balkans. Emir Kusturica is best known for his film making, but he is actually an actor himself and a musician as well. If you haven’t watched anything by him, I strongly recommend “Underground”. Тhat one won him the Palme d’or (Golden palm, the highest prize awarded) at the Cannes Film Festival for the second time. Of course, his other movies are worth your time as well, and remember most of them are satires, just in case you get offended by his humour.
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“I lost my city [Sarajevo] during the war. That is why I wished to build my own village. It bears a German name : Küstendorf. I will organize seminars there, for people who want to learn how to make cinema, concerts, ceramics, painting. It is the place where I will live and where some people will be able to come from time to time. There will be of course some other inhabitants who will work. I dream of an open place with cultural diversity which sets up against globalization.”
A true artist and a romantic dreamer, Kusturica managed to build his dream wooden village, where everything is magical. And what better place to do that than up in a beautiful mountain?
It all started while the director was filming “Life is a miracle”. He tells that they “used to sit for hours while waiting for the sun to come our from the clouds to continue filming.” And then he noticed with envy that there is plenty of sun on the hill of Mecavnik and decided to build his own village there someday. Although his initial idea was really simple – only one house with a few huts around it, it actually transformed into a 4-star hotel complex. Better for us, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to visit it. There are around 40 rooms in the village where you can stay. All furnished traditional and very colourful equipped with everything you might need. You can choose from booking a single or a twin room, studio, apartment or if you’re gathering the whole gang – your very own house. Prices vary depending on the season, but now they start from 80 euro for a twin room where breakfast and dinner are included and 112 for a house, this is accommodation only. Check here for more information.
The name – Küstendorf, is a word play on Kusturica’s name and the German dorf which means village. On the other hand, küste means coast which is quite funny since the village is located up in the Zlatibor mountain and it is not in fact on the coast of any river. The director has acquainted a few other names for the village as well from which the most recognizable by the tourists is Drvengrad (meaning wooden city). That one is quite obvious due to the wooden traditional architecture of the houses and all the surroundings.
Wandering around the village, one can easily immerse in the artistic atmosphere and get inspired. It’s quite interesting exploring the village knowing that someone had invested their whole personality in building it. Almost like picking the very brain of Kusturica. The streets are named after his favorite writers, film directors, football players and even scientists. Imagine living somewhere like that! There’s plenty activities for you to engage in so I doubt you will get bored.
Waking up each day with a breathtaking view of the mountain Zlatibor, taking a stroll down the main street Ivo Andrić, named after the famous Yugoslavian writer, that will lead you to the library dedicated to him as well, where you can curl up on some of the sofas with a great book. Or go for a movie instead, after all, you are in a director’s village. The Stanley Kubrick theater projects Kusturica’s most famous movies and documentaries each day. There are many exhibitions held in the gallery Macola – from sculptures to painting and photography. Oh, and did I mention that there are even some ski slopes there? I don’t know about you, but I could stay in this village probably forever.
It is also the home of the annual Küstendorf Film Festival that even the most famous pirate of the Caribbean sea attended back in 2004. I’m talking about Johnny Depp, of course, who also got a statue in his honor revealed then. The festival is held in the beginning of January on the slopes near Mecavnik. It doesn’t have any commercial sponsors and its purely dedicated to future film creators and the world’s cinema greats. Besides the film program, you can enjoy the musical performances or if you’re in the cinema world submit your entry for the short movie competition.