Hike to Đavolja Varoš

 

 

Last weekend I went on a hiking trip to the UNESCO Heritage site called Đavolja Varoš (Devil’s Town). The main attraction advertised were the 200 odd pillars you can see in the photo above. These huge pillars are formed through many years of erosion. You can see the hikers on the far right of the photo. They are set in a beautiful canyon which we climbed into. The sun came out as I was taking this photo and the beautiful fall colors added to the scene. Legend has it that the devil made a secret potion into the spring water at the site, and when the local settlers drank it, they forgot their familial relationships. A brother and sister were about to get married when a protective fairy in the village prayed to god and he swept down and turned the entire lot into these stone pillars. I like this explanation better than the erosion one. I guess with the small pockets of population a long time ago, incest was a big issue for the community. 

I took a group of students and we stayed at the Prolom banja spa. It is a communist era hotel that many elderly people go to for the healthy waters. The place was not very modern, but it was clean and somewhat comfortable and the staff was very friendly and helpful. 

 

The Sacred Spiral Plum Tree

The second day we took a 3 km walk from the town of Prolom Banja to a small church called St. Lazar. It is one of the legends surrounding the Serb battle against the Ottomans in 1389. The church is about 10 kilometers from the Kosovo border set amidst some forested hills. The area is great for hunting deer, wolves, foxes, etc. according to the locals. The guide from the hotel told us that before doing battle against the Ottomans, the Serb soldiers walked around the church 6 times and they also planted six spiral plum trees which were regarded as sacred. The photo above shows the oldest remains from one of the trees. There are two living spiral trees next to the church. 

Lazar was the leader of the Serbs at the time of the big battle and both he and the Ottoman leader died in the battle. 

I am not sure how true this is. From my research, not much is actually known about the battle. It is a great story however and with the low clouds and mists set in the dark forest, it is easy to imagine the medieval Serbs doing battle with the Turks in this kind of setting. I really want to go back with mountain bicycles, there were roads and trails galore in the area.

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