Great Morava

Last updated
Great Morava
Morava river2.jpg
View from Lapovo
Native name Serbian: Велика Морава / Velika Morava
CountryFlag of Serbia.svg  Serbia
Physical characteristics
  location Stalać, Serbia, from West Morava and South Morava
Danube, east of Smederevo, Serbia
44°42′42″N21°02′05″E / 44.71167°N 21.03472°E / 44.71167; 21.03472 Coordinates: 44°42′42″N21°02′05″E / 44.71167°N 21.03472°E / 44.71167; 21.03472
Length185 km (115 mi) [1]
(with the West Morava: 493 km or 306 mi)
Basin size38,207 km2 (14,752 sq mi) [2]
  average255 m3/s (9,000 cu ft/s) at the mouth
Basin features
Progression DanubeBlack Sea

The Great Morava (Serbian : Велика Морава, romanized: Velika Morava, pronounced  [vêlikaː mɔ̌rava] ) is the final section of the Morava (Serbian Cyrillic : Морава), a major river system in Serbia.



The Great Morava begins at the confluence of the South Morava and the West Morava, located near the village of Stalać, a major railway junction in Central Serbia. From there to its confluence with the Danube northeast of the city of Smederevo, the Velika Morava is 185 km long. [1] With its longer branch, the West Morava, it is 493 km long. The South Morava, which represents the natural headwaters of the Morava, used to be longer than the West Morava, but due to the regulations of river bed and melioration, it is shorter nowadays.

At one time (regulations were made on all three branches making them shorter) the Morava was over 600 km long. Today, the most distant water source in the Morava watershed is the source of the Ibar River, the right and longest tributary of the Zapadna Morava, originating in Montenegro, which gives the Ibar-West Morava-Great Morava river system a length of 550 km, which still makes it the longest waterway in the Balkan Peninsula.


Velika Morava and Juzna Morava Morava river.PNG
Velika Morava and Južna Morava

The drainage basin of the Velika Morava is 6,126 km², and of the whole Morava system is 38,207 km² [2] (of that, 1,237 km² are in Bulgaria 49  km² in the Republic of Kosovo and 44 km² are in the Republic of Macedonia). This drainage basin covers 42,38% the area of Serbia. Velika Morava flows through the most fertile and densely populated area of Central Serbia, called the Morava river valley or Pomoravlje. Pomoravlje was formed in a fossil bay of a vast, ancient Pannonian Sea which dried out 200,000 years ago. Through about half of its length it passes through beautiful Bagrdan gorge (Bagrdanska klisura). In past centuries, it was known for its seemingly endless forests, but there is almost nothing left today of those old woods. It flows into the Danube between the villages of Kulič & Dubravica, in the coal mining basin of Kostolac, one of two major mines in its drainage basin (the other one being Resava coal basin, in valley of the Velika Morava's right tributary Resava). The average discharge of the Velika Morava on its confluence with Danube is 255 m³/s (120 m³/s brought by Zapadna Morava, 100 m³/s by Južna Morava, and 35 m³/s amounted by the Velika Morava itself).


Tributaries of the Velika Morava are short, the longest one being the Jasenica (79 km) and others rarely exceeding 50 km. Right tributaries are: Jovanovačka reka, Crnica, Ravanica, Resava and Resavica (or Resavčina). Left tributaries are more numerous, including: Kalenićka reka, Lugomir, Belica River, Lepenica, Rača, and Jasenica. Many of them don't carry much water, but in rainy years, they are known for causing major floods, which has been a big problem for the entire Morava river system. Before it meets the Danube, the Velika Morava splits, creating a 47 km long arm called the Jezava, which flows into the Danube separately, in the town of Smederevo. It's joined by a longer (51 km) river, the Ralja, from the left.


The Velika Morava represents a textbook example of a meandering river. It used to be 245 km long, but directly from its origin to the Danube, there is only 118 km in distance; its meandering ratio is 118:245, one of the highest in Europe.

The river bed is 80–200 m wide, and the depth as much as 10 m. Notorious for its flooding, the Morava has changed its course many times, and old river bends have become small lakes, known as moravište. Južna Morava, with extremely high erosion in its drainage basin, brings huge amounts of silt which is elevating Velika Morava's river bed, making floods even more frequent.

Beginning in 1966, huge works began on all three rivers to prevent future floodings. Series of reservoirs were made on tributaries (lakes Bovan, Ćelije, and others) and meanders were cut through, making river courses straightened, which made them shorter (in the case of the Velika Morava, from 245 to 185 km). It was projected that it would shorten by as much as 152 km, and that it would become navigable again.

The Morava and its tributaries still flood often, so its bed remains elevated, despite dozens of gravel-digging companies in cities and villages near the river's upper course (Lozovik, Lugavčina, Lučica, Velika Plana, etc.).

Today, Velika Morava is navigable for only 3 km from its mouth. In the past it was navigable all the way to the city of Ćuprija, for about 3/4 of its length. But, as mentioned before, Velika Morava gets buried under the materials brought by the Južna Morava.

When the melioration program began in 1966, it was projected it would become navigable again, in the first phase to Ćuprija, and in the next all the way to Stalać, making it 100% navigable. None of this was accomplished. From time to time, the idea of digging Danube-Morava-Vardar-Aegean Sea [3] [4] a navigable canal pops up in the media.

Technical problems of making this waterway would be enormous (neither the Morava nor the Vardar are navigable), the usefulness of its creation is debatable (whether the route would be used much), and the estimated costs are deemed prohibitive.


Although Morava valley has always been the most populous part of Serbia, disastrous floodings prevented people from settling on the river banks itself. The only urban settlement on the river banks is Ćuprija, but it often suffers from floods (including several times in the 1990s).

Other urban settlements, built a little further away from the river itself, include: Paraćin, Jagodina, Batočina, Lapovo, Svilajnac, Velika Plana, Požarevac and Smederevo. Smaller places and villages include: Varvarin, Glogovac, Markovac, Veliko Orašje, Miloševac and Lozovik.


The Romans called it Margus (in addition to that, the Zapadna Morava was named Brongus, and Južna Morava was Angrus). The modern-day city of Ćuprija existed in Roman times as Horreum Margi (meaning "The Granary of Margus").

In Serbian history, its valley became the cradle of the modern Serbian state in the beginning of the 19th century (so called "Moravian Serbia"; Moravska Srbija). Many songs were written in celebration of Morava and its fertility, but most of them also talked about casualties and damages done by the river during floods.

Songs are even made today about it; the most famous are: Oj Moravo ("Oh, Morava"), Moravo, tija reko ("Morava, you quiet river"), Uz Moravu vetar duva ("Wind blows up the Morava"), Na Moravi vodenica stara ("Old mill on Morava"), Moravac kolo ("Morava kolo"), etc.

Oj Moravo may be the most characteristic:

'Oj Moravo, moje selo ravno,
Kad si ravno što si vodoplavno
Kiša pade, te Morava dođe,
Te poplavi moje selo ravno
A u selu Jovanove dvore,
I u dvoru Jovanovu ljubu'
Oh, Morava, my plain village,
If it's so plain, why do you flood it
Rains came, so Morava rose,
And flooded my plain village
And in the village it flooded Jovan's home,
And in it, his loving wife'

Works cited

  1. 1 2 Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Serbia 2017 (PDF) (in Serbian and English). Belgrade: Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. October 2017. p. 16. ISSN   0354-4206 . Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  2. 1 2 Velika Morava River Basin, ICPDR, November 2009, p. 2
  4. See Thessaloniki#Economy

Related Research Articles

Vardar River in North Macedonia and Greece

The Vardar or Axios is the longest river in North Macedonia and the second longest river in Greece. It is 388 km (241 mi) long, out of which 76 km are in Greece, and drains an area of around 25,000 km2 (9,653 sq mi). The maximum depth of the river is 4 m (13 ft).

West Morava

West Morava is a river in Central Serbia, a 184 km-long headstream of the Great Morava, which it forms with the South Morava. It was known as Brongos in antiquity.

Morava may refer to:


The Nišava or Nishava is a river in Bulgaria and Serbia, a right tributary, and with a length of 218 km also the longest one, of the South Morava.

South Morava

The South Morava is a river in eastern Kosovo and in southern Serbia, which represents the shorter headwater of Great Morava. Today, it is 295 km long, including its source river Binačka Morava. It flows generally in the south to north direction, from the Macedonian border to Kosovo and onwards to Central Serbia, where it meets West Morava at Stalać, to create Great Morava.

Toplica (river)

The Toplica is a river in southern Serbia. The river is 130 km long and gives its name to the region it flows through, which constitutes most of the modern Toplica District of Serbia.

Pčinja (river)

The Pčinja is a 135 km long river in Serbia and North Macedonia, a left tributary of the Vardar river.

Rasina (river)

The Rasina is a river in south central Serbia. The 92 km (57 mi) long river flows through the Rasina region, gives its name to the modern Rasina District of Serbia, and flows into the Zapadna Morava near the city of Kruševac.

The Jablanica is an 85-kilometre-long (53 mi) river in southern Serbia. A left tributary of the South Morava river, it gives its name to the region of Jablanica and to modern Serbia's Jablanica District, with the region contributing about one third of the district's area.

Jasenica (river)

The Jasenica is a river in central Serbia. It is 79 kilometres (49 mi) long and is the left tributary of the Great Morava. This river gives the name to the surrounding region.

The Gruža is a river in central Serbia. The river is a 62 km long left tributary to the Zapadna Morava.


The Veternica is a river in southern Serbia, a 75 km long left tributary to the Južna Morava, which gives the name to the region surrounding its valley.

Resava (river)

The Resava is a river in central Serbia, a 65 km-long right tributary to the Velika Morava. It also gives the name to the surrounding Resava region, the Resava Monastery, the coal mines in its valley and a popular tourist destination of Resava Cave.

Sokobanjska Moravica

The Sokobanjska Moravica or simply Moravica is a river in central eastern Serbia, a 58 km-long right tributary to the Južna Morava river.

The Resavčina is a river in Serbia, a 32 km-long right tributary to the Velika Morava river. It is sometimes also called Resavica or Resava.

Morava Valley

The Morava Valley, is a general term which in its widest sense marks valleys of any of three Morava rivers in Serbia: the West Morava, the South Morava and the Great Morava. In the narrow sense, the term is applied only to the Great Morava Valley. The Serbian term follows the general manner of coining river valley names in Serbian using the prefix po- and suffix -je, meaning literally "(land) along the Morava". Morava valley lies in the central Balkans, at the crossroads which lead eastwards, towards the Black sea and Asia Minor, and further south, down the Vardar river into the Aegean sea.

Šanac Village in Serbia

Šanac is a municipality where the town of Kruševac is located. It is situated along the left bank of the river Zapadna Morava. A typical megalopolis of Serbian Pomoravlje, mostly stretched along the main road, expanding into the valley and, in some places, into the hill above.

Jezava River in central Serbia

The Jezava is a river in central Serbia. Formerly a distributary of the Great Morava that flowed into the Danube in Smederevo at the Smederevo Fortress, its upper course was separated from the Great Morava by a dam after floods in 1897. In the 1970s the lower course of the Jezava was diverted into a new stream bed, leading to the Great Morava. The old bed of the Jezava in Smederovo has been retained for drainage of the urban area of Smederovo. The Jezava drains an area of 692 km², belonging to the Black Sea drainage basin.


See also

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Great Morava at Wikimedia Commons