Pčinje river valley

Located in southeastern Serbia, this area includes the foothills of the Kozjak and Starac mountains, as well as the Pčinje river valley which separates these two ranges. The Pčinje river is of special interest for its beauty, its gorges and its winding course.

The scenery of this region is its key asset – diverse and dynamic, it owes much of its distinctiveness to its elevation and geological features. The sights and sounds of the Pčinje river, and the interplay of different environments (meadows, woods and pastures) make this an environment of special worth. A great part of the appeal of this area is apparent in the numerous scenic viewpoints – from the lowlands, to the terraces and alluvial plains, to the highest peaks of the surrounding mountains.

The area is sheltered by high ridges on all sides: Starac to the west, Ravni Rid and the slopes of Kozjak to the east, Crni Krš, Vogance and Staračka Kula to the north and the Kozjak massif to the south. This forms a basin, open only via the Pčinje valley to the south and southwest, where the river leaves the gorge.

In the centre of this region, the 11th-century St Prohor Pčinjski monastery can be found, a site of exceptional cultural and architectural value which lends particular significance to this area in terms of the preservation of nature, cultural and historical heritage.

The whole area lies on the boundary between continental and Mediterranean climates. Both types of climate can be encountered here together with a great variety of natural life, including a wealth of tertiary flora and relict plant species. Dominant here are woodlands of Italian and Turkish oak, which towards Macedonia give way to stands of downy oak, oriental hornbeam, beech, manna ash, prickly juniper, Turkish hazel and others.

Two types of animal species can be encountered in the Pčinje river area: fauna typical of sub-Mediterranean woodland (favouring habitats such as gorges, canyons, warm and well-lit forests and undergrowth) and the fauna common to European deciduous forests. Here we find the European copper skink, Balkan wall lizard, the large whip snake, the Red-rumped Swallow, the Northern Goshawk, the Levant Sparrowhawk and others. The following game species also live in this area: fallow deer, wild boar, hare, fox, badger, squirrel, wolf, edible dormouse and forest dormouse.