The Visitor Centre – Lepenski Vir Museum is part of a protected archaeological site Lepenski Vir near Boljetin village. It is located in the protected area belonging to the Đerdap National Park, near Donji Milanovac. It was erected next to the 9,000-year-old relocated site of Lepenski Vir, which is considered to be a globally important site.

An entire Mesolithic culture was named after Lepenski Vir – a significant and unique prehistoric site. Settlements discovered on the location which was intensely inhabited from 6,300 – 5,500 BC belong to Mesolithic and Early Neolithic. Findings which are believed to date back to the Mesolithic era make Lepenski Vir extraordinary.

When it comes to settlements, these were apparently well-planned. They contained residential and sacral buildings with trapezoidal foundations, necropolises implying specific burial rituals, monumental stone sculptures and innumerable mobile findings made of bones and stone. All of these are regarded as evidence suggesting that the site was not a mere residential area but a sacral centre, as well.

The most famous findings are sculptures and altars made of pebbles, i.e. sandstone cobbles. These were covered with limestone mortar and found in the floor, most commonly near the hearth. Based on what the sculptures illustrate, they can be divided into two categories: figural – containing humanoid representations; and ornamental – containing engravings of meander, fishbone and plait designs.

A momentous change that was to alter Lepenski Vir occurred towards the end of the 7th millennium and the beginning of the 6th millennium BC. New peoples, who had previously acquired knowledge of agriculture and organized animal husbandry, arrived from the east and south to the area of Đerdap. Consequently, they altered the image of settlements and the spiritual world. Instead of monumental stone sculptures and settlements at the same time functioning as sanctuaries, a new tiny village in Lepenski Vir had all characteristics of the Neolithic culture of Starčevo. This trend rapidly spread across the whole Balkan peninsula and south Pannonia and remained there until approximately 5,500 BC. The explorations of Lepenski Vir were conducted from 1965 and 1970. This was part of the Đerdap I project. Archaelogical excavations were organized and carried out thanks to joint efforts of the National Museum in Belgrade, the Institute of Archaeology, the Republic Institute for the  Protection of Cultural Monuments of the Republic of Serbia, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Niš, and the Centre for Archaeology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade. Dragoslav Srejović, PhD was the Project Coordinator.

As the site was located in the area that was expected to be flooded by the accumulative lake of the Hydroelectric Power Plant Đerdap, the remains were moved to another location which was situated around 100 m northwest and by 29.5 m higher. An outstanding conservation undertaking, i.e. the relocation of the remains of houses and sanctuaries, was conducted by the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in 1970 and 1971. Milka Čanak-Medić, PhD was the Chief Planner and Coordinator. Mobile archaeological objects excavated in Lepenski Vir have been held in the National Museum in Belgrade ever since. These objects constitute the Lepenski Vir Collection. The Lepenski Vir Museum was erected next to the relocated site and it has been affiliated with the National Museum since 1978. In June 2011 the Visitor Centre – Lepenski Vir Museum opened to visitors where the old building once stood. It is now a modern edifice built according to the design of the architects Siniša Temerinski and Marija Jovin from the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments.

Besides the site itself, which represents the major and central showpiece of the museum and whose presentation contains copies of monumental sculptures found at the site, it is also possible to see a brand new setting. It consists of 100 items (utensils, tools and instruments, jewellery, altars, sculptures, Neolithic ceramics) illustrating the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods in Lepenski Vir. The setting also involves the reconstruction of burial methods in Lepenski Vir and a holographic reconstruction of houses in Lepenski Vir.

Visit Lepenski Vir

Read about the Lepenski Vir Collection.

The archaeological site Lepenski Vir in the database of the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments

Watch a documentary “Lepenski Vir” from 1968 directed by Dušan Slijepčević, Dunav Film Production

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