Prokletije Mountains – Accursed Mountains

Prokletije Mountains – Accursed Mountains

The gigantic massif of Prokletije Mountains – the Albanian Alps or Accursed Mountains of the total length of ca 650 km and surface of 3500 sq meters stretches on the territories of the three Balkan countries – Montenegro, Serbia /Kosovo and Metohija area/ and Albania. Actually, the incredibly harsh Prokletije mountain range, rich in superb scenery of dramatic cliffs, crystal clear mountainous rivers and lakes is a natural border between these three countries, connecting in line more than 40 mountains and featuring the largest number of glacials that created rocky and steep mountain sides, that make real challenge for hikers and climbers. The Prokletije Mountains range – the Albanian Alps in Montenegro and Albania are located at the southern part of the Dinaric mountain range that stretches parallel to the Adriatic Sea. The Prokletije Mountains jagged rocky peaks feature foothill rivers which cut it through vast pastures. Besides two highest peaks of the massif in Montenegro – Zla Kolata /2528 m/ and Maja Rosita /2524 m/, the Prokletije Mountains include the Djeravica peak, 2656 m – the highest peak of Kosovo and Metohija in Serbia, which is the second highest mountain peak of the whole Prokletije massif, after the Jezerski vrh peak in Albania, 2694 meters. Prokletije Mountains spread from the Skadar Lake in west, and Komovi Mountains and Mokra planina Mt on the north, Metohija Valley on east and Drim River in south.

The Ali Pasha springs of the Lim River are located within the Prokletije National Park, in the north-easternmost part of Montenegro, some 10 km away from the Plav Lake, 1 km from the Gusinje village, and encircle a vast area of some 300 sq meters where the water comes from the earth. From here the breathtaking impression continues with the 10-meters waterfall of the Grlja river which falls down with huge water roar of the speed and clear mountainous river which flows through the picturesque glacial Ropojana Valley, along the macadam road. There was until the beginning of the 20th century the important caravan road which connected Shkoder with Pec – Peja /in Albanian/.

The Ali Pasha springs got its name in the honor of Ali Pasha of Gusinje, the Albanian military commander who tried to impose the Albanian control in this territory after the Berlin Congress decision in 1878 which defined and proclaimed this area of the independent territory of Montenegro. Recommended for protection in 2001 for its abundance of natural rarities and resources, Prokletije Mountains Massif that covers 95.999,60 hectares in Serbia represents the natural asset of extraordinary importance.

The Altin was area known from the Serbian Medieval and later Turkish annals that stretched along the larger part on the territory of the present north-east Albania, and in smaller part through the territory of Yugoslavia, on the southern and southeastern slopes and ranges of the Prokletije Mountains, and in the valleys of the rivers Valbona, Drim and Erenik. Most of this area covers territory of high mountains, with peaks over 2000 meters, with snow cover during the whole year. Bald and craggy peaks provided inaccessible region, and the lower zone of grassy pastures and bushy terrains enabled intense stock breeding, while south and southeastern part is lower and tame, with the Drim River Valley is open to influence of the Mediterranean climate. Such relief and touch of Alpine and the Mediterranean climatic zones made that constant settlement developed in the river valleys, while the summer cattle camps existed in the mountainous areas. Gordana Tomovic

Historical and scientific data testify that the Slavic people had populated this area and the majority of the Altin area. Majority of the Altin settlements had 90% of the Slavic population which is testified by records of the Medieval Decani founding charter.

The present name of Prokletije Mountains dates from the beginning of the 20th century, when the famous Serbian geographer Jovan Cvijic had changed the original earlier name of this mountain massif of the Troyan Mountains with the current name, and so inscribed it in the cartography of Yugoslavia. It was utterly contrary to the name of those mountains used in the former most important geographic maps of the European people and states, printed in Venice in 1690 – the Trojanske planine – ‘Monti Troiana’ – the Troian Mountains. The original name of the Trojanske planine Mountains derives from the highest peak of this Balkan mountain massif – the Troian peak, 2190 m, which is located around and above the legendary historical Troia – the present day Shkoder – Skadar in Albania.

These mountains are called Accursed Mountains since 1927 and it was Jovan Cvijic who named them. Their original Serbian name was Troyan Mountains or Mountains of Troy. They held this name in all recorded classical and pre-classical history. Every Serbian song or poem remembers them as such and almost none as Prokletije Mt. Herodotus description of Troy as a city on two rivers by a lake rich with eels and Troyan Mountains in the north would be benefiting of the name and interplay of his description and the name of these mountains. If you look at the old Venetian maps you might see them as Monti Troiana. Fu Zurovac

The current name of Prokletije – Accursed Mountains of this uniquely wild Balkan mountain massif refers to “Accursed Mountains” which describes the cruelty of these mountains and the hard life of those who live in their vicinity which features extremely steep slopes made out of limestone that make Prokletije Mountain the most calcareous – karstic mountainous areas of Europe, the most inaccessible and the wildest mountains in the Balkans. The Albanian population of this mountainous area calls them Bjeshket e Nemuna, which means ‘accursed’ or ‘forbidden’ mountains.

The Prokletije – Albanian mountains were fatal for the Serbian army and the civilians in the WWI as their route which led them to the Adriatic Sea and salvation. Victorious in Balkan wars and World War I, Serbian army fought bravely, but in 1915, when Bulgaria joined the Central Powers and Germany reinforced the Austrians, Serbia was overrun. Serbia’s soldiers had rendered heroic admirable efforts which, after a terrible struggle against a formidable enemy, unbearable sufferings and casualties, typhus, starvation, exhaustion and privations of all sorts, led them over the impassable snow-covered mountains of Albania, across the sea to Corfu and to Salonika, from where, with the help of their valiant allies, they fought their way back to their country, to Freedom, and to Union with their brethren in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. In World War I, Serbia had 1,264,000 casualties — 28% of its total population, and 58% of its male population, which is real demographic catastrophe. The Serbian troops and government were evacuated to the Greek island of Kérkira /Corfu/ Krf, where in 1917 Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, and Montenegrin representatives proclaimed the union of South Slavs. In 1918 the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, headed by Peter I of Serbia, officially came into existence. Serb’s love for the country, and love for freedom and the patriotic and heroic poetry of Serbs attracted numerous international personalities, from Napoleon to Goethe, from Byron to Victor Hugo. The recently published book, the ‘Retreat to Victory in 1915‘, written by Nancy Cramer is the epic story of the Serbian army’s retreat to safety and subsequent return to defeat the Bulgarians.  Please see what the author, Mrs Nancy Cramer says : Why I wrote this book, as this is the story that all visitors to Serbia should know about, so feel free to contact us for ordering your copy of this precious book on the Serbian fatal history, superhuman courage, patriotism and the soul of Serbia, as the author claims.

Serbian name for Prokletije Mountains in the Middle Ages was Prudi. Most of the peaks of Prokletije Mountains in Serbia are higher than 2400 meters, among them Marjaš (2530 m), Žuti kamen (2522 m), Karanfil (2480 m), Starac (2426 m). However, the highest peaks of the Prokletije Mountain range are placed in the Albanian part of massif. Some of the fascinating, but almost entirely unreachable Prokletije Mountain summits are Maja Popluks /2569 m, Pop-Lukin vrh/, Maja Jezerce (2694 m, Jezerski Vrh/, Maja Hekurave /2625 m/, Majet e Zabores /massif with 10 peaks above 2400 m/, Maja Briaset /2567 m, Brijac/, Maja Shnikut /2554 m, Nikački Vrh/, Maja Radohines /2570 m/, Maja Livades /2496 m/ and Maja Malisores /2490 m, Malisorski Vrh/. Glaciers have left deep trails of their erosion in Prokletije mountains range what makes Prokletije Mountains after Alps, the most glacial mountain in Europe. The neighborhood of Prokletije Mountains is enriched by amazing valleys above which proudly dominate the breathtaking and harsh Prokletije Mountains ranges. Prokletije Mountain and Šar-planina Mountains are recommended for the Balkans Peace Park Project of the Balkans, which is a 192km circular route through the spectacularly wild and rugged borderlands of Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo, with around a third of the trek lying in each country. Developed to promote sustainable local tourism and transcend political borders, it winds its way through the spectacular scenery of the Prokletije mountains, taking in high passes and remote valleys. Since its launch, the trail’s popularity has continued to rise: however, despite increasing visitor numbers, the area – off-limits to foreigners until comparatively recently – remains underdeveloped and unspoiled. The highest summit of Prokletije Mountains in Serbia is astonishing Djeravica Mountain /2656 m/ which is the highest mountain peak of Serbia.