Avala Mountain

Avala Mountain

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. You can reach the Avala Mountain from Belgrade city center in about 30 minute of car drive as it is about 17 km away from Belgrade, direction south-east. Avala Mountain is wooded by self-grown trees, while some parts of Avala Mountain are covered with lush pine forests. The Avala Mountain is natural habitat of numerous animals and nearly 600 floral species and plants that make more than 70% surface of the mountain forested and 500 hectares under protection.

The name of “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.

Construction of the fortified town on Avala mountain dates from the time when here lived the Celts – the ancient people who had been mining here and had erected the small stronghold several millennia after presence of the Vincan people and the Vinca culture. There are not many data on existence of the Celtic population except the fact that they have mixed with the indigenous Serbs that created the Scordisci people. It is assumed that during the Roman Empire reign over those areas, there was the Roman military settlement on the summit of the Avala Mountain which had guarded the Singidunum and the mines exploited by the Romans.

During the Medieval times, the Serbs have built the Zrnovica fortress on top of the Avala Mountain which was conquered by Ottomans in 1442 who extended and reinforced the stronghold. The Serbs regained the fortification on the Avala Mountain by the Peace treaty of Szeged in 1444. From this fortified town spreads a vast panorama on Belgrade and the whole area up to the Danube River. The Turks used it for observation of Hungarian movements who kept Belgrade lead by the fearless Janosh Huynadi – Sibinjanin Janko until 1521 when Belgrade was under the siege and conquered by the Turks.

“According to historical fragmental data on the Zrnov stronghold, the time of its construction might be determined in the first half of the 15th century, more precisely around 1442, carried out by Hodi Pasha who erected the fortification on the foundations of the earlier Roman stronghold. Some authors consider its construction during the reign of Despot Stefan Lazarevic who built it with the aim of stronger defense of Belgrade. This stronghold was handed over by the Turks to Despot Djuradj Brankovic as per peace treaty contract they concluded, and later in 1458 it was regained by Mahmud Pasha, while at foothills of the Zrnov fortress theHungarians were severely defeated by the Turks in 1515. After the final fall of Despotate under the Turkish rule in 1521, the Zrnov fortification lost its strategic significance, but continued to  be used for protection of the renowned Avala mines”. Source: Sve o arheologiji

The ruins of this Medieval town of Zrnov on top of the Avala Mountain were irretrievably demolished in 1934 when the Monument to the Unknown Soldier was erected as the work of famous sculptor Ivan Meštrović. After the First World War locals found on Avala Mountain large number of graves of Serbian soldiers killed and died during the War among which there was the grave of the unknown Serbian soldier. In 1922 locals of the surrounding Avala Mt villages built modest monument dedicated to this hero. Later the State Board for erecting the monuments to Unknown hero decided to build the Avala monumental memorial. Design of this monument on top of Avala Mountain was done by the famous Yugoslav sculptor Ivan Meštrović. This monumental Mausoleum erected of black granite 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 a Serbian woman from Šumadija /Šumadinka/; a woman from Slavonia and Vojvodina /Panonka/, a woman from Montenegro /Crnogorka/ and Kosovo /Kosovka/; a Croat women from Dalmatia /Dalmatinka/ and Zagorje woman /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 and public. Serbia differs 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. The mineral of “avalit” which was found here on the Avala Mountain was named after the mountain.

Close to the Avala Mausoleum there is the Monument to the 33 Russian War Veterans killed in plane crash on 19th October 1964 when they were heading to the 20th celebration of liberation of Belgrade in which they were supposed to take part. Among Veterans and officers was Marshal Biriuzov and General Zdanov who liberated Belgrade in 1944. Belgrade people paid great honor to the tragically died Russian soldiers by creation of long corridor of people all along the road from the centrally located JNA Army Building to the Military Airport in Batajnica.

There are mines on the Avala Mountain – the Lead and Zinc Mine of Crveni breg that had been exploited from 1886 till 1953, and the Mercury Mine of Šuplja stena which operated from 1968 until 1972. The Crveni breg Mine is located at the foot of the Avala mountain and makes the former deposit of Lead and Zinc that was closed in the fifties of the 20th century and handed over to the Faculty of Mining and Geology Belgrade for the educational school mine site.

The Avala TV Tower is one of the most recognizable symbols of Belgrade – the capital of Serbia, which had experienced start of its construction in 1961. Given the master work of the Serb architecture, whenever noticed by the traffic riders was meant that they are close to Belgrade, was the unique tower in the world, the only one bearing the equilateral triangle in diameter /a triangle in which all three sides have the same length/ which was a symbol representing the Serbian tripod. The Avala TV tower was designed by the Serbian architects Uglješa Bogunović and Slobodan Janjić, while the construction works were carried out by the Rad Construction Company which used and applied even 4000 tons of reinforced concrete that enabled the tower to ‘walk’ for up to 1 meter in the cases of the strongest kosava winds. The very complex positioning of 60 meters high antenna of 25 tons in weight was placed by experts from the “Goša” Factory from Smederevska Palanka. All works, including positioning of the TV and Radio antenna, as well as the functional restaurant were completed in May 1965 when the Avala Tower started its operation. Unfortunately this pride of the Serbian architecture and construction was demolished in criminal attack of the NATO aviation, on 29 April 1999 that made it the highest destroyed structure in the world, until demolition of the World Trade Center in USA. The whole Serbia, and especially people of Belgrade, emotively connected with the Avala Tower, could not stand without their symbol of recognition. Funding for reconstruction of the Avala Tower was successfully collected during 2005, the CIP Institute provided the new design, State Directorate for Property and Property-Legal Affairs and Radio-Television of Serbia and the Ratko Mitrovic Building Company have organized and started reconstruction works of the Avala Tower at the end of 2006. The new Avala Tower was finalized and started its work on 23 October 2009. Today its full height is 204,57 meters with the restaurant on the 119th floor, and the observation point on the 122nd meter. By this the old, destroyed Avala Tower got its successor.

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

Numerous events and festivals which attract visitors are organized on the plateau of the Avala TV Tower – gastronomic festivals and rakija competitions with presentation of tourist offers of Serbia, but also highly challenging descent by iron ropes down the height of 110 meters of the TV Tower…. During their visit to the complex of Avala TV Tower visitors have free access to additional services and amenities as the Village of elfs, the children playground, outdoor gym, sport grounds, artificial climbing rock. Besides that, the special joy for visitors makes the wonderful panorama of Belgrade from the highest levels of the TV Tower which is reached by the elevator. There on top of the tower there are 3 cafes which serve refreshing drinks and small bites, while at the foot of the TV Tower there is the Souvenir Shop of the Tourist Organization of Serbia.

Republic of Serbia on 02 October commemorates the Memorial Day Jajinci victims killed at the foot of Avala Mountain to remember 80000 Serbs, Jews and Roma people executed by the occupier German Army. The victims were marely captured in th Zemlin concentration camp – the Staro Sajmiste camp. Executions took place from the 15th July 1941 until 04 April 1944. During time the shooting place in Jajinci got the form of a special camp with seven barracks where were positioned soldiers, guardians, ammunition and military staff, as well as detainees who waited for their execution. The victims killed in Jajinci were originally buried in mass graves, but the German authorities gradually started with cremation of earthen remains of the killed people. The first memorial in Jajinci was erected in 1951, while the central Jajinci Monument which is the art work of sculptor Vojin Stojic was opened on the 1st October 1988. The Jajinci Monument is set on the place of the former largest mound with the white pigeon on its top which symbolizes the peace.