Mokra Gora Magic

If you’ve already had the joy of riding the train between Belgrade and Montenegro, you’ll understand why the famed Mokra Gora Šargan railway is unmissable.

Up there with the train journey through Norwegian mountains & fjords from Oslo to Bergen, and the winding ride across hillside tea fields in Sri Lanka’s centre, the ‘Šargan Eight’ tour is a full course of visual delights. Although much shorter in length and time, it’s the intimacy of this route which captures your imagination & adventurous heart. In rural countryside inaccessible by car, the two and a half hours round trip between Mokra Gora and Šagran Vitasi station, allows you to drink in breathtaking views! This is what i call Mokra Gora Magic.


This narrow-gauge railway was a huge building feat when it was completed in 1925, able to climb some 300 metes in altitude between the two stations thanks to the unusual design of the figure 8 loop which takes you over several bridges and through 20 odd tunnels deep inside the mountains.


Boarding this rustic steam train transcends you back in time, each carraige with wooden seats and wood burning stoves! The conductors are each fitted out in historical navy uniforms from top to bottom, complete with old hats. What must translate to “all aboard!”, one of them gives a swift warning across the platform and your ride is about to begin. It won’t be long before you’re fogging up the carriage window, eager face pressed up against the cool glass to admire the rolling forest covering Tara Mountain.
What a view to have at work everyday!!


At one of the shorter stops, with a yellow building by the tracks, you have the chance to step out onto a scene location from an infamous film.
“Life is a Miracle” was filmed on this section of railway in 2004, by homegrown Serbian director Emir Kusturica. His legacy has since brought this area to life. You can’t go anywhere without being reminded of him. It was during the filming of this movie that Emir Kusturica fell in love with Mokra Gora and so ‘Drvengrad’ (meaning Timbertown) was born.


Built during the shooting of “Life is a Miracle”, this ethno wooden village is perched in the stunning foothills of Tara, Zlatibor and Šargan mountains. Naturally, it attracts visitors all year round, however each January Kusturica opens his village to host the Küstendorf Film and Music Festival.


What really gives this traditional village it’s character is Kusturica’s attention to detail. Classic cars sit parked, purely decorating the main entrance, shining with years of wear, tear, love and now adoration. Each street is named after figures who Kusturica admires. The first you see just off to the left next to the visitors centre is “Novak Djoković street”, which pointedly leads you down to the tennis courts. The antique musical instruments and books in the restaurant are worth more than a few minutes investigation. Then there’s the resident hound, pretty lazy for a hunting dog but just you watch him rile up the few local cats as he looks for a play partner.

By train and on foot, it feels unlike any other tourist attraction, because when you visit Mokra Gora you’re really visiting a carefully crafted home.

Author: Cristy Lee Macqueen

balkan traveller

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