Ecka, Serbia is a small village of approx 4500 people. It is located 7 km from Zrenjanin, Serbia in the autonomous province of Vojvodina in northern Serbia. It is a place that will always live in my memory I attended my first Serbian birthday celebration and slava in Ecka. Ecka is also home to one of my Facebook buddies that I came to visit. He has turned into one of my best friends on this earth. The family treats me as one of its own. Inviting me to dinner and special holidays, sending me home with lots of delicious food and always checking up on to see that I am doing ok.
My first visit to Ecka was on July 6th of 2011. My buddy and his father drove to the airport in Belgrade to pick me up. It was a beautiful day in northern Serbia and we pulled into his grandmothers abandoned farm. It was off the main highway about 40 feet and surrounded by fruit trees and corn fields. We walked through the barns, sheds and out buildings looking at his farm equipment and a strange looking old car that was made out of plastic. My father farms so I was very interested in the farm equipment that was being used by them. It was different from ours at home. The brands were different and they had a different purpose. The majority of farmers in the USA have combines that will break kernels from the cob. Many years ago they used “corn pickers” in the USA . A corn picker takes the entire ear and deposits it into the wagon. That is similar to the combines they have here. The thing the kernels are attached to on the ear is called a cob. My friends father saves the cobs and uses them for heating purposes as they burn very well. We then walked out to his field. The corn was very tall and had large ears on it. The fruit trees were also filled with fruit. Vojvodina has some of the most fertile soil in the Balkans. They grow sunflowers, corn, wheat and many other crops.
We piled in the car and headed for him home. We pulled into his home and I saw a HUGE nest of white Cranes on top of his chimney! We don’t have Cranes in the USA and to see such a huge nest of birds on top of his house amazed me…..
He then introduced me to his mother and brother. They were fantastic. We put my things away and had a delicious lunch… then set off to explore Ecka. We walked around the little village and I noticed many older folks sitting out in front of their homes on little benches. The majority of Serbian homes are made of concrete which is very different from the USA where they are mostly made of wood. He told me how you greet someone in Serbian by saying DOBAR DAN. That can have two meanings.. GOOD DAY or GOOD AFTERNOON. I tried it on one little old lady and she said in a very deep voice “DOBAR DAN!” ahhahahaha.. He showed me his school which was very small. The kids that are from villages usually go to school in their village until they reach the first year of high school.. then they head to the nearest town. He showed me the three churches that are scattered throughout Ecka. The oldest and most unique is the Serbian Orthodox church that was built in 1711. They also have a Romanian Orthodox church and a Roman Catholic Church that was built in 1864. The reason they have a Romanian Orthodox church is because the largest minority in Ecka is Romanians followed by Hungarians and Roma or gypsies. Speaking of gypsies….. prior to visiting Serbia.. I had no clue that gypsies really existed. Many of my friends and I thought they only existed in fantasy land … like vampires, werewolves, etc…. hahahahahah.. They are people of indian decent that are somewhat nomadic. Many of them live in extreme poverty but there are some that have done very well for themselves by moving to Germany,France, etc for work and then coming back to Serbia. The wealthy gypsies tend to build LARGE homes that are adorned with many decorative statues and such. Many having lions, gargoyles or horses attached to their homes.
Last but not least was the visit to the Ecka Castle or “Hunting Manor”. It is a large, beautiful wooden structure that was built in 1820 beside the river Begej. It was used by many famous Europeans….
most notably. Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand of Austro/Hungry, the heir to the Austro/Hungry throne . His assassination in Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914 is said to have started WW1. He visited the castle on many occasions because he was an avid hunter and the land surrounding the castle was prime hunting ground for fox, deer, dove and duck. On a few occasions he would invite world famous Hungarian pianist and composer… Franz Liszt to play for him and his guests. Liszt is one of the greatest pianists of his time and most well known for Annees de Pelerinage. Another famous frequent visitor to the castle was Serbian crown prince Aleksandar Karadjordjovic.
Today the castle has been turned into a beautiful hotel with 38 rooms and 7 suites that are decorated in a variety of modern and medieval decor. It features a large ballroom that was transformed into one of the finest restaurants in the area. It is also surrounded by a GORGEOUS park. Great for business travelers or anyone looking for a historic, peaceful place to recharge! The rooms are VERY reasonably priced. Single and doubles range from 49E to 79E. If you are looking for a more luxurious night out…try one of their 7 suites from 130E to 140E! The friendly and helpful staff can also organize a variety of day trips for you. They offer a hunting package that will thrill all of you sportsman. The surrounding area is filled with wildlife from deer to turtle doves. They also offer a tour of the nearby city of Zrenjanin, boat ride and picnic along the bank of the river and tour of all the churches in Ecka. You don’t want to miss out on all the excitement!! If you want more information, pictures or need to contact the staff… visit http://www.kastelecka.com/index_en.html
I think the villages are one of the greatest things about Serbia. They are filled with friendly, happy people that love to meet strangers. They also bring you back to the days of old!!! Any visit to Serbia will not be complete without a stop in Ecka!!!!