Knights do battle at medieval festival in Serbia

DESPOTOVAC, Serbia (Reuters) - Men from across Europe - and one woman - donned armor and battled with swords outside a Serbian medieval monastery as part of a festival sampling life from hundreds of years ago.

The combatants were grouped depending on their skill and fitness, with those in the strongest category often knocking rivals to the ground, their helmets dented.

Croatian Neda, who did not give her family name, was the only woman allowed to take part in the battle.

“It’s great for me. It’s anti-stress therapy,” she told Reuters, wearing the red and white colors of her country.

The “Just Out” festival takes place every year outside the walls of the Manasija monastery, built in the early 15th century and listed by UNESCO since 2010.

Visitors also tried out archery, wood carving and cooking the food of the time.

“All of the food is prepared with ingredients that were available in medieval times, in the 14th century in Serbia,” Slavoljub Ljubisavljevic from Serbia said.

The festival lasted four days instead of the usual two this year to commemorate the 600th anniversary since the monastery was built.

“We’re motivated (to come here) to learn how to return to our roots and live simply, like they did before electricity,” said Veronique Gianerrini from France who came for the festival.

Reporting by Branko Filipovic and Fedja Grulovic; Writing by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Alison Williams