Back to the roman days at Felix Romuliana, Image: Miloš Jakovljević

CIG and Eastern Serbia – The magic is mutual 

A rare and exciting sight happened in the first days of June in the Serbian town of Zaječar. The first group of Interpret Europe’s Certified Interpretive Guides (CIG) in the country received their certificates, while, at the same time, the second training was already underway. The participants of the second training joined the newly certified ones in their celebrations.
EU for cultural heritage and tourism – that is the name of a project, managed by the German development cooperation organization (GIZ), that made the first Interpret Europe training in Serbia possible. The project recognises tourism as a significant economic potential for the development of Eastern Serbia and the Lower Danube region. Building capacities is a part of the project. Some international consultants and trainers were a part of the capacity building, including Croatian agency IRTA. They already had insights to the potential of Interpret Europe training and suggested its implementation in this particular project. The project team felt there was an alignment of the goals of Interpret Europe’s training, and the project’s goals, and organised the training perfectly, gathering interested stakeholders from all over the region, from very diverse backgrounds.

The first CIG training was marked by the motivated and positive attitude of the participants, which led to many fun moments of serious learning. The participants practiced by sharing inspiration about the phenomena of the towns of Veliko Gradište, Kladovo, and the entire region. The region at the banks of the mighty river Danube enchanted the training team and re-enchanted the participants with its unique historical monuments, natural wonders, colourful personalities from the past, folklore, and even some real magic. Yes, Eastern Serbia is a magical place, sometimes quite literally. But that part of its heritage is covered by a thick veil of secrecy. When it comes to magic, I learned from the residents to give you nothing but a teaser.
Most of the participants were quick to deliver their homework. They used it as an opportunity to think deeply about interpreting their sites. Medieval castles, archaeological sites, exhibitions, a national park, and more, are now ready to be presented through meaningful walks.

Participants from the National Museum of Zaječar, led by its manager, saw the potential of this training, and soon enough, he organised another course for his destination. This time, a special perk for the whole group was a day at a UNESCO site, Felix Romuliana, the place of the last apotheosis. Apotheosis is a rite of turning a Roman emperor into a god. The day at Felix Romuliana was inspiring, as the participants revived the place by trying out some skills of live interpretation.
In their final presentations, the 25 participants of the two courses chose some surprising details and presented their astonishing heritage. We found out how to trick a catfish the traditional way, with the help of a simple bućkalica device. We learned about some incredible musicians, including the one who knew how to stir spirits with the sounds of his violin so that people wouldn’t want to leave a bar for seven days! By the way, the event organised for the newly certified members was in a similar style – the training team from Croatia understood quite well what the kafana bar and its musicians mean for life in those parts. We hope one of the future Interpret Europe events will take place in the region so you can get a taste of this unique experience, too.

We heard about the villages that lie at the bottom of the fierce Danube, and we felt its might on our skin, on a cold windy day. We participated in cherishing the Vlach tongue, and the story of the intimidating forest goddess Muma Paduri. Some participants were brave enough to try live interpretation, and many dared to take up the difficult task of interpreting intangible heritage, through music, dances, customs, and stories. All of us fell in love with every corner of the region, constantly amazed by its wonders.
Interpret Europe has had members from Serbia for years now. But it wasn’t until 2023 that a real opportunity for a CIG course to take place in the country showed up. It so happened that it landed on the most fertile soil of Eastern Serbia. We hope this is just the beginning. Just like the beans from Veliko Gradište, that supposedly bring good luck and fertility, we all hope the interpretive seeds will grow all over the country and beyond. A big welcome to our new members and certified members from Serbia! Let’s cherish the CIG magic together!   







Image 1: Family legacy as a choice for interpretive speech by Iva Silla
Image 2: First Serbian Group Receives Certificates, Unknown author

Iva Silla is an Interpret Europe Certified Interpretive Trainer for the CIG course. She is the author of Secret Zagreb walking tours ( and Croatia Underrated podcast ( Contact her at

To cite this article:  Silla, Iva (2023) ‘Eastern Serbia on a roll‘ in Interpret Europe Newsletter 2-2023, pg.18-19.
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