The river Vratna has carved its bed through Eastern Serbia, creating breath-taking cliffs and canyons along the way to its confluence with the Danube. However, this isn’t the main reason why the river is famous among nature lovers.
The river Vratna carved its path through the rocks that stood in its way, creating caves whose ceilings have collapsed over time. This created specific natural monuments called “prerast”, shaped like unusual stone bridges. Three stone arches stand out in particular: Suva Prerast, Velika Prerast and Mala Prerast. All three are among Europe’s largest and highest natural bridges and the ideal time for visiting them is in the autumn, when the lush vegetation sheds its leaves, exposing the rock giants in their full glory.
There is a marked path leading to the arches that begins near Vratna Monastery and ascends through the dense forest. Mala Prerast (Small Stone Bridge) is just a twenty-minute walk away. Don’t be fooled by its name, though - its arch is 34 metres high and, together with Velika Prerast (Big Stone Bridge), it forms what is known locally as the Monastery Gate. You can even climb it and enjoy the surrounding landscape from an unusual point of view.
Finally, after more than two hours of walking through the canyon, you will reach Suvi Prerast (Dry Stone Bridge). It was formed in a place where the Vratna dries out in the summertime, hence its name. It is the youngest of the three gates but the most challenging to explore.
Visitors will be interested to hear that there are also unexplored caves nearby.