Faint Memory of the Prince
It could be an excellent ”prince’s tour”, a nice element of the ”culture of memory”. There is a monument, a church, a chardak, a belfry, a mark where his birth house used to be. But there is no asphalt, lighting, accommodation capacities. Not even a tavern. This history and beauty seem to be waiting for us in vain. If the prince were to stop by today, many in Požega and Dobrinja, and especially in Belgrade, would not have such a good time

By: Dragana Bukumirović
Photo: Dragan Bosnić

We arrive in this beautiful village, in which the Serbian Prince was born, on the unpaved road. At a distance of not more than three kilometers, there is a church, a chardak, a belfry, monument to the prince, a mark where his birth house used to be... It could be an excellent ”prince’s tour”, which we could offer under the culture of memory (the term that has been widely adopted recently). However, no travel agency considers including it in its offer. For many reasons, to be honest.
When the night falls, Gornja Dobrinja sinks into the darkness, because street lighting does not work. The local community is struggling with money, and from those 400,000 dinars, which is its annual budget, it cannot pay for the garbage removal, let alone the electricity bills. Finally, the hamlet does not have a small inn, let alone a hotel. Ito does not even have a tavern. Almost every village in the Požega municipality has asphalt, but here, in the home village of Serbian prince, there is none. When rains begin, the mud turns everything into desolation.
Why is it so? Negligence, short memory, or something else?
At this corner of Šumadija, an entire village, about four hundred souls, seeks to preserve the history and symbols from decay and oblivion as best they can. As long as the view goes here, in Gornja Dobrinja, everything has its meaning and message.
At the heart of this historical chrestomathy, the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul dominates the open sky, , a building with a recognizable Miloš’ signature. Although smaller, it resembles remarkably its sister churches in Topčider and Gornji Milanovac: simplicity, austerity, modesty. The church in Gornja Dobrinja was erected in 1822, on the place of an old wooden cabin that was burned down the Turks three times in the past. Da To ensure this one would persist, the lord of Serbia built his endowment from brick and stone. This church lived to see our time structurally reinforced, as it had been damaged in the earthquake whose epicenter was at the Mionica region. Stone walls were also grouted.
In a well-maintained yard with a wooden fence, a three-story bell tower rises, built in 1864, in just one year. More recently, the stairs and carpentry have been restored. Recently, the iconostasis from 1883 was also restored, made in Vienna, a gift by the then Serbian king Milan Obrenović. Now it glows in its full splendor in gray-blue tones, with carved and gilded frames of icons and doors. The Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments has performed conservation of paintings and icons, and the stone floor was made, as it used to be.


– The Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is visited by people from nine surrounding villages. In this sacred place, people and Orthodoxy have acquired spiritual strength – says priest Ilija Milošević, who is currently arranging old scripts, as a library is to be opened here soon.
Around the church, tombstones of meritorious people were laid on the ground, primarily priests, among them the tomb of Teodor, the father of Prince Miloš. On the south side, in front of the bell tower, there were grave marks, in memory of the warriors killed World War One.
In his lifetime, Prince Miloš never forgot his endowment in the homeland, even when he lived in exile. He sent gifts from Bucharest, on the occasion of the death of his father Teodor. The silver chalice from this parcel is still kept at the temple.
Until the tragic end of the dynasty, the Obrenovićs showed concern for Miloš’ hometown and his church. King Aleksandar Obrenović donated a bell to the church in 1900, but the Austrians robbed it in 1917 and took it away.
On the plateau in the immediate vicinity of the church and the chardak, on June 29, 199, a monument to the Prince Miloš was unveiled. In the middle of the clearing above the village, on a stone base, the Prince stands cast in bronze. This beautiful monument is the work of the academic sculptor and painter Miroslav B. Protić. Only this artist, born in Dobrinja, who is no longer among us, knew the price of his venture. For decades he struggled to achieve his idea, even in those ”murky times” when it was not advisable to even mention Miloš. He lived to be present at the unveiling of the monument, in his late years. It was a bold venture. Two years later Miroslav himself passed away in his hometown. At the commemoration on this occasion, the poet Todor Đurić Ginin wrote: ”Everything ends with a dream”.


At the other end of the village, at the place where Miloš’ birthplace used to be, where in the arms of mother Višnja he saw the world for the first time, the residents of Gornja Dobrinja erected in 1897 another modest but worthy mark. On the mark, Njegoš’ verses are carved:
Blessed is he whose name lives forever,
A good reason had he to be alive!
The access to the monument is now unmarked, so you can visit it only in good weather. Rare visitors are confused by this negligent attitude towards the ruler who so indebted the resurrected new age Serbia. A lonely mark in the plum groove makes us feel shame and helpless anger. It is not true that we were not guilty and that we did not have anything to do with it.
Since the mark has been set up, and it was almost a century and a half ago, nothing has changed here, especially not for the better. Plums bring abundance of fruit every year, and today’s landowners regularly mow the grass. Otherwise, it could happen that all this is covered by weed.
Architect Jasminka Protić, the daughter of the deceased sculptor Miroslav, has been shaping the historical environmental unit of Miloš’ homeland for seven or eight years. Project title: ”Miloš Obrenović, the heritage of the future”. Knowing the strength of the will, knowledge and talent of this woman, we believe that soon all this will look different and that the asphalt road will arrive here. New supporting facilities will be built, the household will be brought back to life at the place where Miloš’ birthplace once was. An Info Desk will be installed and two so-called sovrašnice will be built, which will, like in the old times, be used for the respite of guests.


Miloš is from the younger days, in the traditional clothes of the time. In the left hand he holds the first Serbian constitution, a symbolically folded parchment. He has a fez with a tassel on his head. Miloš is a beautiful, full blooded representative of his people. This monument in Dobrinja is not similar to that of Miloš’ monument near the Serbian government in Belgrade, where the prince is presented ”as a Turk, with a turban on his head and a curved yataghan in his hand”.


Although illiterate, Prince Miloš used to build schools, churches, fountains, inns, towns... In 185, he gave to his homeland a spacious, ground-level school building with a bell dome. On the building, of the typical ”Miloš’ architecture”, today there is a memorial plaque to Petar Leković, ”the first national hero of Yugoslavia”. Milos is nowhere to be seen. Hopefully, someone would remember to write the only legitimate name on the wall of this building: Primary School ”Miloš Obrenović”.


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