Avala ([âv̞ala]) is a mountain in Serbia, also National park, overlooking Belgrade that is renowned as a traditional picnic resort of citizens of 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 mountain category just by 11 meters.
Avala is located 16 kilometers south-east of downtown Belgrade. The entire area of the mountain belongs to the Belgrade City area. Avala is famous for its Avala TV tower previously destroyed in NATO bombing of ex Yugoslavia in 1999 and later rebuilt in (2009). The tower is high 202 m and it is open for the visitors every day. The tower has the most beautiful view in the city of Belgrade, there you can sit in the café at 120 m altitude and have a drink while having one of the most beautiful views in the world overlooking City of Belgrade Shumadija and Vojvodina. There you can also see and visit the Mountaineering camps of Čarapićev brest and Mitrovićev dom
Special attractions of the Avala also are several monuments:
- Monument to the Unknown Hero – dedicated to the unknown Serbian soldier from World War I; sculptured by Ivan Meštrovićin the form of mausoleum with 8 caryatides (columns shaped like female figures, in this case each one representing a woman from a different historical region of Yugoslavia), it was completed in 1938. An earlier monument was erected in 1915 at the location by the German soldiers, on the orders of Field marshal August von Mackensen.
- Monument to the Soviet war veterans – dedicated to the members of the Sovietmilitary delegation which died in an airplane crash on the Avala on October 19, 1964. They were flying to Belgrade for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade in the World War II, October 20, 1944, as Red Army forces participated in the expulsion of Germans. Among those killed in the crash were Marshal Sergey Semyonovich Biryuzov, chief of the General Staff and first deputy defense minister of the Soviet Union and General Vladimir Ivanovich Zhdanov. The monument was sculptured by Jovan Kratohvil.
- Memorial Park – dedicated to the victims of the World War II
- Monument to Vasa Čarapić – dedicated to Vasa Čarapić, one of the leaders of the First Serbian Uprising in 1804 and liberator of Belgrade from the Turks, built in Beli Potok, his birthplace, near the mountaineers home Čarapićev brest. It was sculptured in 1991 by Dušan Nikolić.
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:
- Climbing (on an outdoor Climbing wall)
- Mountain biking
- Mountain running
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, the 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 meters), Zvečara (347 meters), Sakinac (315 meters). 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, ceased in the 1960s. Avala is also a location where the mineral avalite, named after the mountain, was found. AA greenish mineral, chromian, magnesian or potassic alumosilicate (variety of the mineral illite), it was discovered by Serbian chemist Simo Lozanić who established its formula. Optically examined by the Israeli mineralogist Tamir Grodek who classified it as a member of the mica mineral group.
, 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:
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. In 1965, a 202 m high 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 meters. 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.
Aside from rich animal life, the 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 or box tree. The area is also abundant in medical herbs. High woods mostly consist of durmast oak, Turkey oak hornbeam, beech, linden, black pine, black locust and other trees.