Avala is a mountain in Serbia, overlooking Belgrade. It is situated in the south-eastern corner of the city and provides a great panoramic view of Belgrade, Vojvodina and Šumadija, as the surrounding area on all sides is lowlands, it stands at 511 metres above sea level, which means that it enters the mountain category just by 11 m. Avala is located 16 km south-east of downtown Belgrade; the entire area of the mountain belongs to the Belgrade City area, the majority of it being in the municipality of Voždovac, with the eastern slopes being in the municipality of Grocka, the southernmost extension in the municipality of Sopot. It is possible that in the future the entire area of Avala will create a separate municipality of Belgrade, named Avalski Venac. Avala is a low type of the Pannonian island mountain, though it is the northernmost mountain in Šumadija; until 600,000 years ago, when the surrounding low areas were flooded by the inner Pannonian Sea, Avala was an island, just as the neighboring mountains, thus earning its geographical classification.
However, Avala remains an "island mountain" as the area around it, Pinosava plateau of the northern Low Šumadija, is low and flat. In the north it extends into the woods of Stepin Lug; the mountain is built of serpentinite and magmatic rocks, which are injected in the shape of cone. Other peaks include Zvečara, Sakinac; the Avala had deposits of ores, most notably lead and mercury's ore of cinnabarite but mining activities which can be traced to the pre-Antiquity times. Archeologist Miloje Vasić believed that the vast mines of cinnabarite on Avala were crucial for the development of the Vinča culture, on the banks of the Danube circa 5700 BC. Settlers of Vinča melted cinnabarite and used it in metallurgy. Mining was active on the mountain at 3000 BC. In Medieval Serbia mining began in c.1420, after the Law on mines was issued by the Despot Stefan Lazarević in 1412. In this period, the cinnabarite was exported to Greece. Mining activities ceased by the 1960s, when the last two mines, Šuplja Stena and Crveni Breg, were closed.
Šuplja Stena was a mercury mine while in Crveni Breg, zinc and gold were extracted. Crveni Breg has traces of the usage from the Roman period, it has seven levels, out of which four are flooded, the stalactites are being formed inside. By 2009 the upper level was prepared for visitors,having been cleaned and lighted for some 300 m, but the project of turning it into a tourist attraction failed. Avala is a location where the mineral avalite, named after the mountain, was found. A greenish mineral, magnesian or potassic alumosilicate, it was discovered by Serbian chemist Sima Lozanić who established its formula. Optically examined by the Israeli mineralogist Tamir Grodek who classified it as a member of the mica mineral group. On the southern slopes, in the area of Ripanj, the closed Tešićev Majdan is located; the stone pit was owned, but was confiscated by the state after World War II and stopped operating before 1960. In the process of restitution after 2000, the quarry was returned to the surviving owners, but they live abroad so the quarry is still not operational.
It is the only known location of kersantite in a rare type of greenish granite. For decades, kersantite was used for Belgrade buildings. Features built with this stone include the fountain between the Novi Dvor and Stari Dvor, the bordure of the Hotel Bristol, Small Staircase in Kalemegdan Park, pedestal of the Play of Black Horses statues in front of the House of the National Assembly of Serbia and buildings of Belgrade Cooperative, Elementary School King Petar I, Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel and Main Post Office Building; as the buildings began to deteriorate over time, city authorities showed interest in the quarry, not only for the repairs but for future construction. For now, when some deteriorated kersantine feature has to be replaced, the artificial stone is used. Geologists suggested to the city to obtain the ownership over the land on which the pit is located and to reopen it; the Belgrade City government announced in 2012 that it will unilaterally explore the pit until it gets reopened and inspected it in 2013.
Large amounts of cut kersantite were found. Locals have been crushing it to use as road cover. After the political change in Belgrade in late 2013, the motion was dropped. On the mountain itself, there are several springs. Despite being the only mountain in the area, Avala is not a source of many rivers; the Topčiderka river, originating in the woods of Lipovička šuma on the south-west, flows on the western slopes of Avala, while the river Bolečica flows on the eastern slopes. Other minor flows include a tributary to the Bolečica. A small artificial lake near the village of Pinosava was created on the western slope of the mountain; the settlements in the area are notorious for problems with shortages of drinking water during summer. Despite being protected for 150 years, it was only in 2007 that preservation plans for the mountain were made; that way, Avala entered a circle of protected green areas of Belgrade, which included the mountain of Kosmaj, the island of Veliko Ratno Ostrvo and the woods of Stepin Lug, with the forests of Košutnjak and Topčider to be added next.
Protected areas of Avala spread over 4
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