It is not known exactly when the first mines were opened at Avala, but it is known that since ancient times various ores – lead, silver and iron, cinobarit and mercury have been excavated here. In the Middle Ages the Žrnov fortress was built. According to tradition, it was the castle of Jerina, wife of Djuradj Brankovic. In 1422 Turkish army of Sultan Murad, in an attempt to win the Belgrade fortress, occupied Žrnov, which then become a Turkish stronghold. Avala was conquered and governed by many elders, and for the first time in 1859 it was declared a protected area, and afforested with deciduous and pine trees, thus today it became a legally protected area of exceptional characteristics. With the railway construction in the 80s of the 19th century, visits and excursions around Belgrade began, along with the foundation of the Mountaineering Association in 1901. Today Avala is visited by those with an interest in the history of mining, by precious metals seekers and by amateur archaeologists who hope to find on its slopes and around the monument valuable archaeological remains. The long abandoned mine shafts of the mercury mine Šuplja Stena (Hollow Rock) at the foot of Avala testify to this Roman settlement. A blue-green mineral, unique in the world, that was found here was named after Avala mountain – avalit, and today it can be seen in the collection of the Natural History Museum. In the protected area there are about 600 plant species, including a variety of medicinal herbs, and some rare species, such as golden chain (Laburnum), lily (Lilium martagon), and holly (Ilex aquifolium). Forests in the protected natural area occupy more than 70% of the land, and present Avala biodiversity, both at the species level and at the level of plant communities and ecosystems. They include high forests of sessile oak, bitter oak, hornbeam, beech, and linden, and bitter oak and Hungarian oak coppices, as well as black pine, acacia and other deciduous trees.
Avala is adorned by eight mountain springs with clean water, and the most famous are: Ledinac, Sakinac, Kamenac and Vranovac. Hikers can always refresh themselves here with pure spring water.
Details of our past and events throughout history, have found their place on Avala as sights that should not be missed.
Monument to the Unknown Soldier
It was erected in 1938, as a monumental mausoleum on the top of the mountain, southeast of Belgrade, on the site of former medieval fortress Žrnov. It is sculptered by Ivan Mestrovic, in the neoclassical style in the form of a Greek temple. The authror drew his inspiration for this monument from the tomb of Cyrus II in Persia. This monument – mausoleum, replaced the original stone monument, erected by the inhabitants of the surrounding villages in 1922 at the site where unknown hero was killed in the First World War. The coffin with the remains of the unknown hero is now in the crypt (underground room) inside the base of this monument. At the entrance there are monumental pillars in the form of female figures wearing national costumes. These sculptures symbolize soldiers’ mothers and the peoples and regions of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia: Šumadija, Panonia-Vojvodina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Dalmatia, Zagorje, Slovenia and Macedonia. Mausoleum of the Unknown Soldier on Mount Avala is deservedly recommended by all tourism workers.
Memorials to Vasa Čarapić
Near the Mountain lodge Čarapićev brest (the elm of Čarapić) there are two monuments dedicated to Vasa Čarapić, duke of Karadjordje.
Monument to Soviet war veterans
The site where a plane carrying a Soviet delegation of officials who took part in the figths for the liberation of Belgrade, headed by marshal Biryuzov, crashed in 1964, is marked by a monument in the form of a broken airokane wing.
Church of Despot Stefan Lazarevic
Near the Avala Tower there is a newly built Church of Despot Stefan Lazarevic.