Road sign

An ozone shock
On the ideal 400 meters of height above sea level, with the ideal concentration of ozone and radon, this is probably the best air spa in this part of Europe. Its thermo-mineral springs help with many diseases. They knew it back in the classical period, in medieval times and in Turkish times. The great people of Serbian culture knew it as well, who were regular guests of the Soko Spa, such as Branislav Nušić (who came up with the still popular slogan), Stevan Sremac (who spent his last days in it) or Ivo Andrić (who began his famous novel ”The Bridge over the Drina” and a mysterious romance as well). And, we can see that everyone knows it now

By: Svetlana Đurić

Between mountains Rtanj and Ozren, in the beautiful valley with a good climate and best concentration of ozone and radon in Europe, only 30 kilometers from Aleksinac and the Belgrade-Niš highway, Soko Spa is one of the capitals of Serbian spa tourism. This summer of 2007 every one was convinced of the fact, according to statistics and according to official information of the most important institutions and organizations in charge of tourism in Serbia, Soko Spa was the most visited tourist center, before Zlatibor and Vrnjačka Spa.
The Spa was used in the classical period, in the middle Ages, in Turkish times. There are several legends about the discovery of the mineral spring under the Soko Town. The most popular legend is the one about the traveler who spent his night here because his horse got hurt and they could not continue their journey. The horse, weak and tired, lay down right next to this spring. In the morning, surprised, the traveler saw that his horse’s wound is now looking much better and that it nearly healed. He got interested in the spring, realizing that it has a healing power. And the good news spread very quickly.
The vision and the energy of Prince Miloš Obrenović were decisive for the sudden development of Soko Spa in the liberated Serbia, in the 19th century. As well as in other locations in the country, where he wanted to make progress, Miloš first of all built his tavern, he renovated the church and the Turkish bath, and he put his Fountain near the town. (The water from the fountain, several kilometers out of Soko Spa, on the road to Aleksinac, strongly emerged on two ducts, in the winter and the summer. Even during the tropical summer heats, the water was so cold that one could not even keep its hands in it.) Some time later, every thing went on, faster or slower. From this beginning a town started developing, it became stronger economically and people started settling.


Many great people of Serbian culture and science were regular guests of the Soko Spa, and they wrote about its beauties. The Nobel Prize Winner Ivo Andrić came every year. He claimed that several weeks spent in this beautiful place at the bottom of Ozren made him live healthy in Belgrade, during the whole year. Right here, in Soko Spa, in a hotel on a hill, he started to write his novel The Bridge on Drina. One local legend says that Andrić, ”the lover of beautiful ladies and summer rain showers”, had a passionate affair in Soko Spa, a nurse or a lady doctor, who knows... And that long affair brought a handsome young boy who still lives in Soko Spa.
Stevan, of the last name Sremac, born in Senta in Bačka, who made the Serbian South famous in his work, did not just stay in Soko Spa, but he spent his last days in it (there is a commemorative plaque on the house where he died). One local chronicle says that he walked through the Spa every morning, drank coffee on the main square and spoke to his friends.
The famous comedist, Branislav Nušić was also a Spa guest. It was him who, about 70 years ago, came up with the famous slogan, using a local photographer:
”Soko Spa, Soko Town,
You come old, you leave young”.
The photographer put that slogan on one of the series of his spa picture postcards. The guests bought them, sending them around the world, reporting that they had a good trip, that they are doing good, wishing the same to others, and the optimistic and joyful slogan excited the world.
This is where stayed the lady writer Isidora Sekulić, mentioning the Spa in her work and the geographer Jovan Cvijić. Many leading Serbian authors can now be seen in Soko Spa’s streets. That kind of ”clientele” brought a noble character to this town, the ”murmur in time” which is a part of the spirit of this place.


The Soko Spa offer is not only about healing. Near the spa are the residues of antique and medieval fortifications of Soko Town, Vrmdža and Bovan. These were the keepers of important roads to Constantinople, to Niš, to Felix Romuliana and Danube towns.
The River Moravica and Bovan Lake offer great possibilities for fishing, bathing, and picnics. The surrounding mountain regions are beautiful, the vacation area Lepterija, six tubs which Morava cut through the rocks, the waterfall Ripaljka (the biggest in Serbia).
This area has a skill of telling stories and knows ”to make a story of anything”. Exciting legends are connected with these locations, like the story about the Holy Mother of God with Christ whose image is appearing on a cliff of Ozren, or about the Armenian Church of the Holy Archangels, deep in the mountain, or Haiduk-Veljko’s cave above the forest roads to Soko Town. The books claim that Haiduk-Veljko lived here and that he carefully came down to the imperial roads, to finish some of his work.


Soko Spa is on the ideal height above sea level of 400 meters. Its thermo-mineral springs (28-45.5°C) are used for bathing and inhalation. The humid continental climate with a favorable atmospheric pressure and not many rainfalls, the high concentration of oxygen, ozone and negative ions in the air and the absence of aero-pollution, make Soko Spa one of the most important air spas in Serbia.
Treatments are practiced in the Special Hospital for Preventing, Treating and Rehabilitation of Nonspecific Lung Diseases ”Soko Spa”, in the natural Sanatorium ”Banjica” and the Special Hospital for Lung and Eye Diseases and Tuberculosis ”Ozren”. One can treat asthma, chronic hepatitis, psychoneurosis, neurasthenia, high blood pressure, chronic rheumatism and sciatica, anemia, chronic gynecology diseases...
Even if it sounds as a cliché, not only the sick people visit the Soko Spa. Moreover, it seems that there are just as much healthy, or maybe even more, as ill people, who come to rest, to become balanced and to refresh. When people from big towns come to the Spa, they ”only sleep” for the first few days. A deep sleep in total silence. The people of Soko Spa are smiling. ”The ozone shock”, they say. ”Captivatingly clean.”
Every year in Soko Spa there is a competition ”The First Accordion”. There is also an interesting ethno exhibition in the Museum. In the amphitheater in front of the Museum, during the summer, there are programs, concerts, theatre plays, every night. In the Legacy of Milun Mitrović one can see many other works of great artists which exhibit here, besides the regular exhibition.
For gastronomes and wine lovers, if they are open and curious, there are many things waiting to be discovered.
We do not want to say anything that would sound as a cheap and obvious commercial. We should trust Branislav Nušić and come and see for ourselves.

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