What does the village in the picture look like? Do households seem strange to you? Do you see something unusual? Take another look! In front of you are not ordinary houses with an old look. In front of you is a unique ambient that represents the protected wealth of Serbia. Meet the stone village of Gostuša!
Stone houses are a rarity today. However, what is extremely rare is a village in which almost all buildings are of stone and material that can be found near the village. You do not believe us? You have no choice because we have proof. It is a village on the slopes of Stara Planina, whose story will completely fascinate you! Are you ready to join us on our journey?
Village of Gostuša – a part of the Stara Planina Nature Park
This time we go east. The village of Gostuša or Kameno Selo is located 700 meters above sea level. It is part of the Stara Planina Nature Park. This unusual place adorns the unique architecture that has been preserved in its authentic condition. Regardless of that, people still live in them.
Interesting and unusual, the story of Gostuša crossed the borders of Serbia. It actually attracted the attention of experts around the world. The reason lies in the houses built of stone, mud, and other natural materials that the inhabitants found in the vicinity of Stara Planina. Since the discovery of the village, it became a must-visit place.
In addition to being a real curiosity for architects around the world, these households have also preserved their authentic look. You will be under the impression that you are in the past.
Of course, there is also the fact that it is not about one, two, or three houses. It is about the whole village. There once lived about 1,500 inhabitants. Today there are only about a hundred. There may pass an old man with his goats or sheep. He will most likely say hi to the visitors in Serbian, assuming that they are somebody’s cousins. That is why this Stara Planina village represents a unique ambient and a natural and cultural-historical monument. The protection, research, and promotion of Gostuša have been underway for several years.
The rare technique of house building
What we know so far is that the houses were built without mortar or any other bonding material. This means that instead of shingles and tiles, stone slabs serve as the basic material for covering. All buildings are practically made of stone. From foundation to roof. To perform such works requires great mastery, experience, and effort. Can you imagine living here? Amazing, isn’t it?
This technique has been used in Gostuša for centuries. The results speak for themselves. They are reflected in houses that, although old and dilapidated, are still not subject to the ravages of time. And that is exactly what makes them so unique. Something that simply has to be seen and experienced.
The phenomenon is inexplicably rare in the country. No other villages have the same building style. The exact reasons behind this architectural wonder are still a mystery. However, the stone houses of village Gostuša survive to date. They became a silent reminder of what once was a very prominent and rich agricultural settlement.
Award of the European Union for cultural heritage
Far out of the city, in harmony with nature, Gostuša has long been out of the reach of the general public. Until recently there was no asphalt road. In the meantime, the village became recognizable throughout Europe. In 2016 it got the prize Europa Nostra and the Grand Prix award of the European Union for cultural heritage. This type of recognition has brought multiple benefits to the village. Some of them are more intensive promotion, more visitors, and video documentation.
The great potential of the stone village also reflects in the surroundings and proximity of many natural and cultural treasures of this part of Serbia. It is primarily a beautiful Stara Planina and nearby Pirot with a variety of tangible and intangible cultural heritage. You should also check out an artificial Zavoj Lake.
The locals say that in the village “guests are souls” and that those who come once will definitely want to return. If you add to all the delicious gastronomic specialties of this part of Serbia, there are plenty of reasons to walk through the streets of Gostuša. So the next time you ask yourself what you could visit in Serbia, remember this village. This small mountain paradise! You will not regret it!