Last updated
Мount Avala in February 2015
Highest point
Elevation 511 m (1,677 ft)
Coordinates 44°41′25″N20°30′51″E / 44.69028°N 20.51417°E / 44.69028; 20.51417 Coordinates: 44°41′25″N20°30′51″E / 44.69028°N 20.51417°E / 44.69028; 20.51417
English translationObstacle, shelter
Language of name Arabic
Relief map of Serbia.png
Red triangle with thick white border.svg

Avala (Serbian Cyrillic : Авала, pronounced  [âv̞ala] ) is a mountain in Serbia, overlooking Belgrade. It is situated in the south-eastern corner of the city and provides a great panoramic view of Belgrade, Vojvodina and Šumadija, as the surrounding area on all sides is mostly lowlands. It stands at 511 metres (1,677 ft) above sea level, which means that it enters the locally defined mountain category just by 11 m (36 ft).



Avala is located 16 km (9.9 mi) [1] south-east of downtown Belgrade. The entire area of the mountain belongs to the Belgrade City area, the majority of it being in the municipality of Voždovac, with the eastern slopes being in the municipality of Grocka, and the southernmost extension in the municipality of Sopot. It is possible that in the future the entire area of Avala will create a separate municipality of Belgrade, named Avalski Venac.


Avala is a low type of the Pannonian island mountain, though it is actually the northernmost mountain in Šumadija. Until 600,000 years ago, when the surrounding low areas were flooded by the inner Pannonian Sea, Avala was an island, just as the neighboring mountains (Kosmaj, Fruška Gora, etc.), thus earning its geographical classification. However, Avala remains an "island mountain" as the area around it, Pinosava plateau of the northern Low Šumadija, is low and mostly flat. In the north it extends into the woods of Stepin Lug.

The mountain is built of serpentinite, limestone and magmatic rocks, which are injected in the shape of cone (laccolith). Other peaks include Ladne vode (340 m (1,120 ft)), Zvečara (347 m (1,138 ft)), Sakinac (315 m (1,033 ft)). The Avala had deposits of ores, most notably lead and mercury's ore of cinnabarite but mining activities which can be traced to the pre-Antiquity times. Archeologist Miloje Vasić believed that the vast mines of cinnabarite (mercury-sulfide) on Avala were crucial for the development of the Vinča culture, on the banks of the Danube circa 5700 BC. Settlers of Vinča apparently melted cinnabarite and used it in metallurgy. [2] Mining was active on the mountain at 3000 BC. [3]

In Medieval Serbia mining began in c.1420, after the Law on mines was issued by the Despot Stefan Lazarević in 1412. [4] In this period, the cinnabarite was used for fresco paintings and was exported to Greece. [5] Mining activities ceased by the 1960s, when the last two mines, Šuplja Stena and Crveni Breg, were closed. [1] Šuplja Stena ("Hollow Boulder") was a mercury mine while in Crveni Breg ("Red Hill"), lead, zinc, silver and gold were extracted. Crveni Breg was closed in 1953 and has traces of the usage from the Roman period. It has seven levels, out of which four are flooded, and the stalactites are being formed inside. By 2009 the upper level was prepared for visitors, having been cleaned and lighted for some 300 m (980 ft), but the project of turning it into a tourist attraction failed. [6]

Avala is also a location where the mineral avalite, named after the mountain, was found. A greenish mineral, chromian, magnesian or potassic alumosilicate (variety of the mineral illite), it was discovered by Serbian chemist Sima Lozanić who established its formula. Optically examined by the Israeli mineralogist Tamir Grodek who classified it as a member of the mica mineral group. [7]

On the southern slopes, in the area of Ripanj, the closed Tešićev Majdan ("Tešić Quarry") is located. The stone pit was privately owned, but was confiscated by the state after World War II and stopped operating before 1960. In the process of restitution after 2000, the quarry was returned to the surviving owners, but they live abroad so the quarry is still not operational. It is the only known location of kersantite in Serbia, a rare type of greenish granite. For decades, kersantite was used for Belgrade buildings. Features built with this stone include the fountain between the Novi Dvor and Stari Dvor, the bordure of the Hotel Bristol, Small Staircase in Kalemegdan Park, pedestal of the Play of Black Horses statues in front of the House of the National Assembly of Serbia and buildings of Belgrade Cooperative, Elementary School King Petar I, Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel and Main Post Office Building. As the buildings began to deteriorate over time, city authorities showed interest in the quarry, not only for the repairs but also for future construction. For now, when some deteriorated kersantine feature has to be replaced, the artificial stone is used (as in the case of the pedestal of the Play of Black Horses). Geologists suggested to the city to obtain the ownership over the land on which the pit is located and to reopen it. The Belgrade City government announced in 2012 that it will unilaterally explore the pit until it gets reopened and inspected it in 2013. Large amounts of already cut kersantite were found. Locals have been illegally extracting the stone and crushing it to use as road cover. [8] After the political change in Belgrade in late 2013, the motion was dropped.

On the mountain itself, there are several springs, of which Sakinac is best known. [1] Despite being the only mountain in the area, Avala is not a source of many rivers. The Topčiderka river, originating in the woods of Lipovička šuma on the south-west, flows on the western slopes of Avala, while the river Bolečica flows on the eastern slopes. Other minor flows include the Vranovac, a tributary to the Bolečica. A small artificial lake near the village of Pinosava was created on the western slope of the mountain. The settlements in the area are notorious for problems with shortages of drinking water during summer.



View of Avala Avala sa Ibarske magistrale.png
View of Avala

Despite being officially protected for almost 150 years, it was only in 2007 that preservation plans for the mountain were made. That way, Avala entered a circle of protected green areas of Belgrade, which also included the mountain of Kosmaj, the island of Veliko Ratno Ostrvo and the woods of Stepin Lug, with the forests of Košutnjak and Topčider to be added next. Protected areas of Avala spread over 48,913 hectares (120,870 acres)

Some areas within the mountain are additionally protected., including the "Complex of mountain beech, oak, maple and elm", which is in the first level of protection. It is located in the valley of the Vranovica stream, close to the "Čarapićev Brest" visitors' complex. [9]

Plant life

Avala is known for its diverse plant life, despite not being a tall mountain. There are over 600 plant species living on the mountain. Some of them are protected by the law as natural rarities, like certain types of laburnum, box tree, black broom, common holly and martagon lily. [1] The area is also abundant in medical herbs, like the early-purple orchid and belladonna. Almost 70% of Avala is forested. [10] High woods mostly consist of durmast oak, Turkey oak, hornbeam, beech, linden, black pine, black locust and other trees.

Animal life

Almost 100 species of birds live on Avala, including strictly protected Eurasian sparrowhawk, European honey buzzard and European green woodpecker. [10]

A section of the mountain is organized as a game hunting ground. [11]


Zrnov fortress, destroyed in 1934 Zrnov1.jpg
Žrnov fortress, destroyed in 1934

In the Middle Ages, the town of Žrnov or "Avalski Grad" (Avala town) was located on top of Avala. In 1442. it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, which built a new town in Žrnov's place as a counter-fortress to the Belgrade city fort, and renamed it "havale", which originally comes from Arabic and means "obstacle" or "shelter".

Human history

The mountain has been protected since 1859 [12] as a natural monument, or, by the modern standards, "sight of the exquisite values". That year, Serbian ruling prince Miloš Obrenović issued an order for the Avala to get fenced and protected that way. [13] He also banned construction of houses on the mountain itself. [9]

In the early 20th century plans were made for the further forestation of the mountain. In his last visit to Serbia in 1903, Austro-Hungarian naturalist Felix Philipp Kanitz noted that the mountain will become "another exceptional excursion area", after the Topčider park. [9] Remains of the medieval Žrnov were removed in 1934 to make way for the Monument to the Unknown Hero. The destruction of Žrnov, which was demolished with dynamite, caused a massive discontent among the citizens of Belgrade. [13] In the period of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the mountain was declared a national park, in 1936. In 1946, by the ukaz of the Presidium of the National Assembly of Serbia, Avala was reduced to the status of the "public property of general benefit" and placed under direct management of the Government of Serbia.

Avala was a key point during the Belgrade Offensive in October 1944, a fighting for the liberation of Belgrade in World War II. Germans halted their mechanized units along the Smederevo road, at Mali Mokri Lug, continued equipped with the light weapons and spread over Avala. German units were commanded by lieutenant general Walter Stettner  [ de ], who was killed during the battle. Germans also had a 7th SS division at the mountain, but after the joint attack of Yugoslav Partisans and Red Army, Belgrade was liberated on 20 October 1944. [14]

In 1965, a 202-metre-high (663 ft) Avala TV Tower was constructed, one of the tallest structures in the Balkans, by the architects Uglješa Bogunović, Slobodan Janjić and M. Krstić. It had a restaurant look-out on 120 m (390 ft). The tower was destroyed during the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999. Its total reconstruction began in 2006 and was officially opened at a ceremony on 21 April 2010. The new tower is almost the exact replica of the destroyed one, including the unique three-feet base. Belgrade's General Urbanistic Plan (GUP) for the 2001–2021 period defines the mountain as a sports and recreation area.


Settlements near the mountain are not much populous. They include Ripanj (on the south, the largest one, with a population of 11,088 by the 2011 census of population), Pinosava (on the west, 3,151), Zuce (on the north-east, 2,001), Beli Potok (on the north, 3,621), all in the municipality of Voždovac, and Vrčin (on the east, 9,088), in the municipality of Grocka.


A motion is in the process of creating a new municipality called Avalski Venac, which would include all these settlements and possible few others, but Zoran Alimpić, the acting mayor of Belgrade from September 2007 to August 2008, stated that new municipalities will probably not be formed before 2011 or 2012. The idea was later put on hiatus.


Avala is well connected with Belgrade and other parts of Serbia via roads, highway and railroads.

Avalski drum ("Avala road") is an extension of the Boulevard of the Liberation, which directly connects the mountain to downtown Belgrade (via neighborhoods of Selo Rakovica, Jajinci, Banjica, Voždovac, Autokomanda, Karađorđev Park and Slavija). On the mountain, Avalski drum divides in three:

Sub-Avalan settlements are directly connected to Belgrade by the bus lines of the city's public transportation, with terminus in the Belgrade's neighborhood of Trošarina.

The Belgrade–Niš highway, a section of one of the major European roads, European route E75, runs east of the mountain, through Vrčin. North of the mountain runs Kružni put, the most important road in the southern outskirts of Belgrade, which connects all the southern sections of the city. It is also a projected route of the future Belgrade beltway which would continue through the Bolečica river valley and the projected Vinča-Omoljica bridge over the Danube into Vojvodina.

Railroads also run on both sides of the mountain. Eastern branch is a section of the Belgrade-Niš railroad. It runs through the tunnel under the Avala at Beli Potok and then through Včrin. Western branch runs through Ripanj and the long "Ripanj tunnel" (though not under the Avala), and continues into western Serbia and further into Montenegro, as part of the Belgrade–Bar railway.


Avala TV Tower Avala TV Tower.jpg
Avala TV Tower

Avala is a traditional picnic resort for Belgraders, but its capacities are not being used much. In 1984 number of tourists was only 15,700 despite over 1.5 million of inhabitants in Belgrade. Some attractions and capacities on the mountain include:

Monuments on Avala

Special attractions of the Avala are several monuments. They include:

Monument to the Unknown Hero Monument to the Unknown Hero Avala1.jpg
Monument to the Unknown Hero
Monument to the Soviet war veterans Avala soviet.jpg
Monument to the Soviet war veterans


Small church dedicated to the Saint Despot Stefan Lazarević was built in the immediate vicinity of the Avala Tower and Monument to the Unknown Hero. The foundations were consecrated by the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Irinej, in 2015. Made of white pine and designed by deacon Miroslav Nikolić, it covers only 50 m2 (540 sq ft). The bell tower, built next to the church, is also made of wood. The church contains epitrachelion of Saint Nectarios of Aegina and pillow of Saint Petka. [18]

Mountaineering camp

Annually, from July 1 until July 10, a traditional camp of Serbian mountaineers is held on the Avala. Among other mountaineering activities, there are competitions in:

Ski center

The first skiing competition in Yugoslavia was held on Avala in 1929 and the first local, Serbian competition after World War II was also held here, in 1946. The usual route was the one starting at the logger's cabin and ending all the way to the foothills above Ripanj. The tracks were quite crude. Despite low altitude, construction of the ski resort, with sports and recreational venues and a cable car have been proposed in 1994 and 2005. In October 2018, city government announced plans to set a 550 m (1,800 ft) long piste. The construction of the complex, which is planned to be operational over the entire year thanks to the artificial snowing system (skiing specifically from November to February), should start in 2019. The piste will start in the immediate vicinity of the tower and end at the logger's cabin. Due to the altitude and the climate, the north-western slope, in the direction of Pinosava, is chosen. The track has been labeled as the "blue", which means it is of and intermediate level of difficulty. [19] [20]

Phase I includes the construction of the piste, ski lift, training trail, snowmaking cannons, decorative lights, parking lots and special machinery. Phase II comprises the building of the bobsled on rails track, zip-line, mini golf course, artificial climbing rock, children playground and an adventure park. Projected price is €5 million. [19] [20] As the project includes cutting of the mountain forest, the opposition to the project amounted and no works began before 2020. [21]

See also

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  14. Dimitrije Bukvić (21 October 2018). "Noć kad se usijalo nebo nad Beogradom" [The night when the sky above Belgrade incandescent]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 08.
  15. Ana Vuković (10 June 2017), "Kompleks na Avali dobio novi izgled", Politika (in Serbian), p. 14
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  17. Нова пешачка стаза "Сакинац" на Авали[New hiking trail "Sakinac" on Avala]. Politika (in Serbian). 22 September 2020. p. 14.
  18. Branka Vasiljević (10 May 2020). Hramovi od drveta sačuvali veru [Wooden temples preserved faith]. Politika (in Serbian).
  19. 1 2 Ana Vuković (14 October 2018). "Avala izlazi na crtu Kopaoniku" [Avala dares Kopaonik]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 15.
  20. 1 2 Ana Vuković (4 March 2019). Скијање под Авалским торњем[Skiing under the Avala tower]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 15.
  21. Ana Vuković (16 December 2019). Ски-стаза на Авали још није на видику[Ski-trail on Avala nowhere in sight]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 15.