Neolithic settlement Plocnik is located in the village Plocnik, 22km southwest of the town Prokuplje, and 12km Northeast of Kursumlija. The remains of the settlement cover the area of 120 hectares, on both sides of the main road and he railway Nis-Pristina .This is the most significant Neolithic site in Toplica, it is among the most important ones in Serbia, and very important site of this type in Europe. Archaeological researches on this site began in 1927, and are still in progress. Plethora of museological material was found here and it is kept in Belgrade and Prokuplje museums. This site is of great historical, cultural and touristic importance for our country.
Although this site was of great importance for tourism since the beginning of researches, it has not been touristically valorized until 2009, so the tourists rarely visited it. The company Planinka jsc from Kursumlija, upon the request of the senior curator of the National museum in Prokuplje, Julka Cvetkovic-Kuzmanovic, in cooperation with the National museum in Prokuplje, began the construction of 5 Neolithic huts and the museum on the site, in 2009. The construction of the Neolithic huts is finished, whereas the museum construction is still in progress. The goal of the project is to revive the Neolithic settlement in order to demonstrate the way of life in Neolith in the reconstructed houses, with the complete inventory reconstructed according to the results of researches.
The oldest metallurgy in the Balkans will be demonstrated in a special way – in a completely reconstructed workshop. The research history will be displayed in the museum, which will be situated in the reconstructed railway building, where the tourists can also taste the dishes of that period, prepared on the spot.
This site is significant as the beginning of primary metallurgy in the Balkans, which is evidenced by the 47 copper objects found on the site.
In the vicinity, there are the archaeological site Roman Thermae and the remains of a Medieval church, where the heroes of the Battle of Plocnik 1386 are buried. From the plateau near the church, one can see the field in which this battle occurred. Considering the historical significance of this battle, appropriate markings will be placed.
Justiniana Prima is an archaeological site dating from the 4th century – the remains of one of the biggest and most important Byzantine cities in Europe. It was built by the Emperor Justinian I (527-565), according to many sources, as a sign of gratitude toward the place where he was born. The site covers the area of 42000m2, and 1000m2 were discovered by now. The city also had a multipurpose dam. It was an important ecclesiastical, administrative and military center and the center of Episcopacy as well. The outer and inner walls separated the town into Upper, Middle and Lower town. Acropolis was built on the most elevated part (398masl) where the complex of the Episcopacy palace with floor heating warm air (hypocaust), was found. Seven churches were located there. Apart from the biggest church, a basilica with fragments of marks and fresoe paintings is significant. This town was built according to the urban plan. All of the known techniques of the Classical period were applied when building this town. They had good inner organization – water was brought to the town by an aqueduct, they had a large reservoir for water, drainage and water supply network, baths and faucets.
Archaeological objects found during the excavation are kept in the National museum in Leskovac, National museum in Belgrade and the Archaeological Institute SANU in Belgrade.
Justiniana prima is considered a European touristic destination, especially when it comes to archaeological tourism. Foreign tourists are much more acquainted to this site than domestic tourists, so it is not strange that almost every tourist visiting Devil’s Town asks for directions to Justiniana Prima.
The monastery of St. Nicholas is located in Kursumlija, on the hill above the confluence of Banjska into Toplica, from where the whole old town of Kursumlija can be seen on the other side of the river. The church was built in three stages. The oldest part of the church was built by Stefan Nemanja, when he was a prince, around the year 1165, and he dedicated it to his son Sava. It had one nave, with a tree-part altar, a dome in the middle and a small compartment on the southern side, which was meant to be the resting place of the founder. A narthex with two high towers and a arched porch was added on the west side, during the reign of Stefan the First-Crowned (XII c). The reason for this was probably the establishment of the Toplica Episcopy, with the seat in this monastery. There is a crypt in the eastern tower, which was meant to be the resting place of the second founder. During the reign of king Milutin (XIVc), the chapel on the northern side was added.
The church of St. Nicholas is one of the oldest monuments of the great medieval Serbian architecture and a prototype for numerous monuments of the architectural school of Raska. The reflection of the political and cultural ties can be seen on the building – the Byzantine style (from the period or Nemanja’s reign, terracotta and plaster as only materials and a big triforas on the lateral sides), and Roman characteristics (during the reign of Stefan the First-Crowned, a mix of brick and stone, as well as a tower on the western side and a vestibule on the southern side).
This monastery complex, with the church, appeared magnificent until the great migration of Serbs in 1690, when its destruction began. The church had many frescoes, but only the traces from the 15th c were preserved. Other buildings were completely destroyed. The only remaining part was the central part of the church with a damaged dome, and one tower. The remains of the church were covered and protected in 1910. The digs, protection and restoration works were performed in period of 1948-2003. Today, the church is almost completely reconstructed and there are works on rebuilding the monastery complex ahead.
This is the first monastery of the Nemanjic dynasty where the handcopying was organized, with a written tipik (a rule of liturgy), and Sava Nemanjic blessed the first believer after the Serbian Orthodox church gained independence in 1120.
The monastery of the Holy Mother of Christ (1159-1165) was built near the confluence of the river Kosanica into Toplica, opposite of the Byzantine basilica, about 800m downstream of St Nicholas. This monastery was dedicated to Nemanja’s wife ana, who spent some time in it as a nun and superintendent. It was built on the foundations of the early Byzantine sanctity from 5-6c, and it represents a lonely example in the Serbian medieval architecture. That type of churches was built in the 11th and 12th century, after the adoption of Christianity. Famous churches from the Mount Athos and both churches from Ohrid belong to the same style. Between 1451 and 1457, the sultana Mara, daughter of Djuradj Brankovic, and the wife of the sultan Murad II, took care of the church and had a court in the vicinity.
The Holy Mother’s monastery was active until 1690, and suffered the same fate of the monastery St Nicholas. According to the legend, a Turk in the 18th c destroyed the chrch and built the so-called Isac’s mill 20m down the road, which was taken away by the river Toplica. After the liberation of Turks in 1878, it was recorded that only the altar wall with the great remained. It was only in 1921.that the church was cleared of the weeds and the first archaeological excavations were conducted. The conservatory works took place in 1948, and the church and konak (a place of residence for nuns or monks) were partially excavated and examined, and the church was partially reconstructed.
The Holy Mother of Christ is called „Petkovaca“ (St Petka) by the local folk, and on every Good Friday thousands of people gather here, light the candles and pray to God, eat fasting food. The monument was put under the protection as a cultural monument of extreme importance.