Avala is the northernmost peak of the Šumadija Ridge, which extends from the Sava and Danube rivers to the mountain of Rudnik. This small, lone mountain, its peak just 511 m above sea-level, is found 17 km from the centre of Belgrade, on the road to Kragujevac. The name Avala is derived from the Arabic word havala, which means ‘viewpoint’, which was what the Turks called the fortress of Žrnov on the top of Avala. The mineral avalit which was mined on Avala got its name from the same word.
Avala has been given protected status with the aim of preserving and promoting the key features of the landscape, the diversity of geological forms, the variety of animal and plant life and habitats, the quality of water, soil and woodland, the cultivation of traditional and historical values and the creation of conditions for the sustainable development of leisure and tourism and of managed agriculture and planned used of land.
The landscape of Avala consists of meadows and woodland inhabited by 597 plant varieties, 21 species of lichen, 8 species of amphibian and reptile, 67 species of bird and 16 mammal species. The plant life of Avala comprises mostly of Turkish oak and somewhat smaller beech woodlands. There are also stands of black and Scots pine, acacia, Italian oak, downy oak, silver lime, manna ash , elm, sessile oak and hornbeam. Meadow plant growth mostly occupies the southern slopes in the vicinity of the oak woodlands.
The wildlife of Avala is typical of sub-Mediterranean and Balkan deciduous woodlands. There are 67 bird species registered, of which 21 species are considered rare in Serbia. The most important are the Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, the Stock Pigeon, the cuckoo, the European Roller, the Little Owl and the Eurasian Golden Oriole. Mammals found on Avala include wild boar, the bank vole, the badger, the mole, the common dormouse, the squirrel and the fox.
Avala has always been an attractive location for settlement. It is thought that even in Roman times there was a military fortification at the peak of Avala, while in the Šuplja Stena holiday facility there are the remains of ancient mercury and silver mines. In the Middle Ages, the Serbian town of Žrnov was located here, which controlled the approach to Belgrade. Its remains were removed in 1934 and in its place a mausoleum was constructed in 1938, the Monument to the Unknown Hero, the work of the famous sculptor Ivan Meštrović. Another monument was built on the northeastern slopes of Avala to commemorate Vasa Čarapić, the Serbian freedom fighter from Beli Potok. The first mountain lodge in Serbia, Mitrovićev Dom, which is now protected as a cultural monument, was built on Avala, and the Hotel Avala, dating from the same period, is now also a heritage site.
Because of its proximity to the capital and its natural beauty, Avala is one of the top outdoor destinations not just for Belgrade’s residents but large numbers of tourists too. Avala was dominated for many years by a 195 m television tower with a viewing platform, erected in 1965, but this was destroyed in 1999 during the NATO bombing. It was rebuilt and brought back into service in 2010, now 205 m high with a restaurant at a height of 120 m.
INFORMATIONJP “Srbijašume” Šumsko gazdinstvo “Beograd” Šumska uprava “Avala” Avalska 79, 11223 Beli Potok tel: +381 (0)11 3906-626 www.srbijasume.rs