Avala is mountain located 17 km south-east of Belgrade on the road from Belgrade to Kragujevac. The altitude of Avala Mountain is 511 meters above see level /so those 11 meters qualify it for a mountain/ making Avala Mt the lowest of the mountains descending from central Serbia towards Belgrade. Avala Mountain is wooded by self-grown trees, while some parts of Avala Mt are covered with pine forests. The name “avala” is of Oriental origin and comes from the Arabic word of “havala” which means “wonderful observation – viewing point” or the place from where the panorama spreads.
It is assumed that during the Roman Empire rule over those areas, there was the Roman military settlement on the summit of the Avala Mountain which had guarded the Singidunum and the Roman mines. During the Medieval times, the Serbs have built the Zrnovica fortress on the Avala Mountain, which was conquered by Ottomans in 1442 who extended and reinforced the stronghold. The Serbs regained the fortification on the Avala Mt by the peace treaty of Szeged in 1444. From this fortified town spread a vast panorama on the whole area up to the Danube River. The Turks used it for observation of Hungarian movements who kept Belgrade lead by the fearless Janko Huynadi until 1521 when Belgrade was under the siege and conquered by the Turks. The ruins of this Medieval town of Zrnov on Avala Mountain were demolished in 1934 when the Monument to the Unknown Soldier, the work of famous sculptor Ivan Meštrović was built. After the First World War locals found on Avala Mountain large number of graves of Serbian soldiers died during the War among which there was the grave of the unknown Serbian soldier. In 1922 locals of the surrounding villages built modest monument dedicated to this hero. Later the State Board for erecting the monuments to Unknown hero decided to build the monumental memorial.
Design of this monument on top of Avala Mountain was done by famous sculptor Ivan Meštrović. This monumental Mausoleum on the top of the Avala Mountain contains on both entrances caryatids – gigantic stone figures of women dressed in folklore costumes from all Yugoslav regions. In order to show his support for Yugoslav unity, the King ordered that this monument include caryatids representing all the nations over which he governed following the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. They represent Serbian woman from Šumadija (Šumadinka); a woman from Slavonia and Vojvodina (Panonka), a woman from Montenegro (Crnogorka) and Kosovo (Kosovka); Croat women from Dalmatia (Dalmatinka) and Zagorje (Zagorka); one Slovene and one Macedonian woman. The Avala monument was built of the Jablanica black marble in the period from 1934 til 1938. In 1934 the ruins of the Žrnov Medieval town were demolished with dynamite that is still condemned by historians. Serbia differ to the other countries that participated in the First World War in regard with the fact that all other countries have erected the Monument to the Unknown Soldier while Serbia founded the Monument to the Unknown Hero. Close to the Mausoleum there is the Monument to the 33 Russian War Veterans died in plane crash on 19th October 1964 when they were heading to the 20th celebration of liberation of Belgrade in which they took part. Among Veterans and officers was Marshal Biriuzov. Mineral “avalit” which was found here named Avala Mountain.
On Avala Mountain stands the newly built TV Tower as an important symbol of Belgrade on the place where there was the tower hit in NATO Bombing in 1999, which is currently the highest tower in Serbia and the Balkans. The TV Tower on Avala Mountain is nowadays one of the most prominent architectural works in Serbia and features 2 lifts and the restaurant on the 119th meter of its height, with the observation point on its 122nd meter.
Today is Avala a very attractive tourist site and favorite excursion destination for Belgraders and their guests. Photos – CD “Moja Srbija” www.turistvodic.info