As "Doomsday" looms, Serbs cash in on mystical mountain

Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:14am EST
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By Aleksandar Vasovic

RTANJ, Serbia (Reuters) - If doomsday really falls on Friday, the residents of this Serbian mountain region are cashing in while they can.

"We're booked out December 20-23. We have a New Age convention and guests are coming because of the end of the world," said Nebojsa Gajic, manager of the 160-bed, Communist-era Millennium Hotel on the slopes of Mount Rtanj.

The region is selling itself as the best place to survive the looming apocalypse - which will fall on December 21, according to mystics whose calculations depend on the ending of an era in the 5,125-year-old Mayan calendar.

It is basing its promise on the mystical powers that locals say have flooded the area since its pyramid-shaped mountain swallowed a castle belonging to a well-to-do sorcerer, trapping him inside.

About 250 km (155 miles) east of the capital Belgrade, towards Bulgaria, Mount Rtanj is part of the Carpathian range and famed in Serbia for its herbal tea, pristine nature and clean air.

Like the French Pyrenean village of Bugarach - which is guarded by another magical mountain - Rtanj is offering salvation from Friday's cataclysm and safe passage into a golden age.

Residents say they have been inundated with enquiries from Serbia and abroad.

"We're booked out," said Darko Jovic, manager of the Balasevic hotel. "People were even calling from the United States and we had to say 'No'. I couldn't even get a room for my own mother and sister."   Continued...