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Devil's Town is a peculiar rock formation, located in south Serbia on the Radan Mountain near Kuršumlija. It features 202 exotic formations described as earth pyramids or "towers", as the locals refer to them. They are 2-15 m tall and 4-6 m wide at the base. These formations were created by strong erosion of the soil that was scene of intense volcanic activity millions of years ago.
In the south of Serbia, 27 km south-east of Kursumlija, lies a first-class natural landmark – Djavolja Varos (”Devil’s Town”). Two rare natural phenomena at the same spot: 202 stone formations created by erosion, between two and 15 meters in height and the middle diameter of under 1 m, topped by stone blocks weighing as much as 100 kg, appearing unreal and yet lasting for centuries, and two springs of extremely acid water (pH 1,5) with high mineral content (15 g/l; content of some elements even 1000 times as high as in ordinary drinking waters) make Djavolja Varos a true wonder of nature.
The natural surrounding area adds to the attraction of these two wonders, depicting a rather harsh, almost mystical atmosphere, but at the same time picturesque and timid, just like the remains of the town, old church, cemetery, and several interesting mines.
Djavolja Varos has been put under protection of the state in 1959, while in 1995, by the Decision of the Serbian Government, it was declared the natural good of an outstanding importance, giving it the first-category level of protection – NATURAL MONUMENT. Thus, the whole 67 hectares of its territory are protected.
The Soil Figures
The site of a strange name “Devil’s Town” is located near an also strangely named village Djake (comes from a Turkish word “gjak” – blood), at an altitude of 660-700 m, situated in the municipality of Kursumlija. Earthen figures or “towers” as the locals call them are located in the watershed between two gullies, whose sources joined together create a unique erosive formation, tremendously demolished by the erosive processes. The gullies also have strange names: “Devil’s Gully” (“Djavolja jaruga”) and “Hell’s Gully” (“Paklena jaruga”).
There are 202 earthen figures of different shape and dimension, from 2 m to 15 m in height, and from 0.5 m to 3 m in width, with stone caps on the top. They are an outcome of a specific erosive process that lasts for centuries. When figures are formed, they grow, change, shorten, gradually (very slowly) disappear and reappear. The loose soil is dissolved and washed away by the rain. However, the material under the stone caps is protected from the “bombardment” of the rain drops and washout, and remains in place in the form of the rising earthen pillars – figures.
The height of the pillars is increased by a quick linear and directed erosion of water which flows away around their feet, washing out the material. Due to the steep incline of the terrain where figures are formed, vertical erosion prevails over the lateral one, which accelerates the washout of the material and the creation of the pillars.
Formed in this way, the earthen pillars are shaped into earthen figures of strange shape and appearance by various environmental factors (wind, sun, changes of temperature, etc). When observed for a long time, the figures appear unreal, both in their shape and dimension, as well as in their incredible static perseverance. It seems unreal that an earthen figure which is 3 m wide in its foot and more than 10 m tall becomes 20-30 cm wide at the top and endures for decades and centuries under the weight of more than 100 kg heavy stone block…
This geomorphologic phenomenon is a unique occurrence in our country and very rare in the world. In Europe, there are similar occurrences in the Alps (on both sides of the Brenner Pass in Austria and in Italy, near Bolzano, then in the province Haute-Savoie in France, etc). In America, there is a significant occurrence “Garden of the Gods”. However, the Devil’s Town towers are greater in number, larger and much more stable.
Another natural rarity in “Devil’s Town” are two springs of extraordinary properties. “Devil’s Water” (“Djavolja voda”), which is located in vicinity of these earthen figures, is a cold and extremely acid spring (pH 1.5) of high mineral concentration (15 g/l of water), springing out in “Devil’s Gully”.
In comparison to drinking water, it is 10 to 1000 times richer in minerals (aluminium, iron, potassium, copper, nickel, sulphur, and alaun). “Red Well” (“Crveno vrelo”) is another spring located downstream, in the alluvial plain, 400 m away from the first spring. Its water (pH 3.5) is less acid and has a lower general mineral concentration (4.372 mg/l of water).
Because of the flat terrain, its water overflows in a very thin layer and runs into a bed of the nearby yellow stream. Due to the oxidation of iron, which is contained in water in large amounts, an attractive red terrace in the form of a fan is created.
Such waters are very rarely found in the world. They are similar only to two waters in Italy (Levico and Roncello), and three in Russia (Zubinskije, Bljavinskije, Karabasskije).
According to the first legend, long time ago, this area was inhabited by humble, calm and religious people. This annoyed the devil so he made “Devil’s Water” to make them forget their lineage. As the inhabitants drank the water, they arranged a marriage between a brother and a sister.
The devil’s plan was interrupted by the fairy who, according to the legend, still keeps this area under her protection. The fairy could not reason with them, so the bride and the groom were on their way to church. At that moment, the fairy started praying to somehow end the incest. God heard her prayer and joined the earth with the sky, then the cold wind blew and God turned the wedding guests into stone.
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