The Velika Morava

The Morava, or Velika Morava river originates with the merging of the Zapadna Morave and Južna Morava (Western Morava and Southern Morava) at the town of Stalać. It flows into the Danube in the area between the towns of Smederevo and Kostolac. Together with the Zapadna Morava, the Morava is the longest Serbian river –  185 km long just counting the Velika Morava, or 493 km including the Zapadna Morava.

This river was once many times longer but was shortened by river engineering and land reclamation works. The farthest headwater of the Morava basin is the river Ibar, a right tributary of the Zapadna Morava, and the largest. Taken as a whole, the Ibar-Zapadna Morava-Velika Morava system forms a river system 550 km long, the longest in the Balkans.

The Velika Morava basin is 6,126 km2 in area, the entire Morava system 37,444 km2, which is 42.38% of the size of Serbia’s territory. The Velika Morava flows through the most fertile and most densely populated area of central Serbia known as the Pomoravlje, which was formed from a bay of the former Pannonian Sea which dried out some 200,000 years ago. Approximately halfway along the valley is the Bagrdanska Klisura gorge.

The tributaries of the Velika Morava are the Jovanovačka Reka, Crnica, Ravanica, Resava and Resavica, Kalenićka Reka, Lugomir, Belica, Osaonica, Lepenica, Rača and Jasenica rivers. Before it flows into the danube, the Velika Morava forks, creating a 47 km-long arm named the Jezava, which flows separately into the Danube after first merging with the river Ralja.

The Velika Morava is an example of a meandering river and it is common for the Morava to change its course after flooding, leaving lakes in place of its former bed. Today the Velika Morava is navigable for only 3 km from its mouth, but in former times was navigable as far as Ćuprija. In the early 19th century its valley became the birthplace of the modern Serbian state, then called Moravian Serbia.  Many songs have been sung in honour of the Morava and its fertility, but also of its ill-tempered nature and tendency to flood.