The Devil’s Town
The Devil’s Town (Đavolja varoš) is a rare natural phenomenon, located in the southern part of Serbia, on the slopes of Radan mountain.
It is known for the specific rock formation of soil figures and mineral water springs. This place was declared a natural monument of great importance by the Republic of Serbia Government Decree. About 67ha was put under the first category of protection as a natural monument.
The whole world found out about The Devil’s Town when it was the best-ranked nominee in Europe and the first in the world in Group D (rock formations, caves, valleys) in the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” campaign. In 2002, it was inscribed on the UNESCO Heritage list, as well.
There are some similar pillars in Italy, Austria, France, as well as in the USA. But figures in the Devil’s Town are extremely rare in the world and one of the must-visit places in Serbia.
How to get to the Devil’s Town
The Devil’s Town is located in the village of Đake. It is about 30 km far from Kuršumlija, 89 km from Niš and 288 km far from Belgrade.
The best way is to go by car, or with organized tours. Also, there are regular bus lines from major cities in Serbia to Kuršumlija, and then you can take a taxi to Devil’s Town.
And if you like to walk or hike, you can get to the Devil’s Town by foot from Prolom banja over the Prolom mountain. The path is known as „the path of health“ and it is about 11 km long.
What to see in the Devil’s Town
In front of the entrance, there is a free parking area and stalls with souvenirs.
The wooden door leads you to an unusual place shaped by local legends and beautiful nature.
The ticket office and a restaurant are located on the right side.
And there is the line of flags of various countries, together with the Serbian flag.
The path about one kilometre leads you through the forest to the famous soil figures.
In the forest, we saw a very interesting tree.
So, don’t be surprised when you see wooden sculptures when you enter the forest.
They are works of artists, made during numerous art colonies.
Close to the path, there is the creek known as Žuti potok, because of its yellow colour and the high iron concentration in the water.
Since mountain Radan was rich in iron, aluminium, aluminium, copper, zinc, and gold and silver in smaller quantities, the Serbian ruler Uros Nemanjic hired a German tribe Sasi in the 13th century to search for iron. Then ores were transported to Rudare village where iron weapons, money and jewellery were made. Today only one mining shaft is partly explored and it is about 800 meters long, but tourist visits are not allowed.
Red well and Devil’s Water
There are two springs and two ravines in The Devil’s Town.
The famous soil columns are nestled between the Devil’s gully (Đavolja jaruga) and the Hell’s Gully (Paklena jaruga).
And in the Devil’s gully, there is the Devil’s spring (Đavolja voda). It is cold and extremely high acidic water (pH 1.5) with a high mineral concentration, which makes it one of the most acid springs in the world.
Another spring is the Red Well (Crveno vrelo), with a little bit less acid, which water goes to the Žuti potok. Really, the view of the well is unbelievable! It is hard to describe the yellow-red colour of the water without any sign of life.
The water from springs is used in traditional medicine, but it is not good for drinking.
Going further through the forest, we finally found them. The view of 202 soil figures is spectacular. They are surrounded by trees, lush and colourful rocks, the result of intense volcanic activity millions of years ago.
These unusual pyramids are between 2 to 15 m high, and 0.5 to 3 m wide at the base, made of volcanic material, limestone-marl, clay, and earth. They were created by the erosion of soil and by cutting of trees, while the rain and winds eroded the rocks. During the centuries, they were changed, increased, disappeared, and then appeared again.
Most of them have „heads“ or „cups“ of andesite which protect them from further erosion.
They are about 20-30 cm wide and can weigh over 100 kilograms.
Wooden stairs lead you to two small lookouts, from where you can enjoy an amazing view.
Legends of The Devil’s Town
There are several stories about this unusual place.
According to one legend, calm and religious people lived there. But the devil didn’t like it, so he made “the Devil’s Water”. People drank the water, forgot their family ties, and have arranged a marriage between a brother and a sister. The fairy who protected the area, could not change their decision. So she was praying to God to stop that madness.
And God heard her prayer and made a terrible storm with the wind. He punished the newlyweds and wedding guests by turning them into soil pillars.
Even today the wind blows between the figures and produces various sounds, sometimes similar to human screams, which makes this place more fascinating. Well, welcome to the Devil’s Town!
Another legend says that students and devils made a bet, devils lost and then they were petrified into pillars.
The third story says that pillars are petrified devils, which people carried on their backs. After they spent the night in front of St. Petka’s church, people got rid of devils, who were transformed into stones figures.
Also, the name of the village „Đake“ is a bit strange because comes from the Albanian word “gjak”, which means blood. Certainly, and the name of the place stirs your imagination and you cannot stay indifferent, whatever you believe in!
The Church of St. Petka
After the second lookout, you can climb steep wooden stairs to the opposite side.
It is a great place from where you can see the ravine and stone pillars.
Also, there is a small wooden Church of St. Petka, built in 2010, on the former remains of a church from the 13th century. In front of the church, we saw a tree decorated with small white fabrics and handkerchiefs.
According to beliefs, you have to make a wish, put white fabric on your body’s sore place, and then tight it on a small tree. Handkerchiefs stay in this place for 7 days, and after that, they are buried in the ground. In this way, the suffering and pains will stay forever in the Devil’s Town.
And I don’t know whether was a coincidence or the help of the St Petka, but the pain in my ankle disappeared after I tied a piece of the white fabric in the church… Interesting, isn’t it?
From the church, we went down by a narrow earth path and continued further through the forest the same way we came. At the end of the complex, you can take a break and have lunch at the “Đavolja varoš” restaurant which is open from April to October. Taste the specialities – lamb or veal made under sač, a local type of oven.
Visit The Devil’s Town
Every year this place is visited by about 50,000 tourists. You can visit it every day between 08.30 – 17h, but it is closed from 1st November to 1st March. The ticket is 350 dinars, about 3 euros. There are guides in Serbian, English and Russian for organized groups, so it is better to contact the site before the visit.
And there is a special event for visitors: a night tour. Soil figures are illuminated by various colours and light effects, making the scene more mystic. For this tour, you have to contact the reception of the hotel Prolom and make a reservation. Usually, they organize the tour on Thursday, it starts about 20h and lasts about three hours. The price is 1.000 dinars (about 8.5 euros).
So, if you are still wondering where to go the next weekend, prepare comfortable shoes, and come to visit this fabulous place. There are several interesting places close to Devil’s Town, such as the “Dva ambara” restaurant which serves delicious local dishes, surrounded by beautiful nature, Prolom banja, Lukovska banja, an archaeological site Pločnik (Neolithic settlement), and the remains of the Roman thermae.
Also, you can visit the Monastery of St Nicholas and the ruins of the monastery of the Holy Mother of Christ from the 12th century near Kuršumlija city, as we did.
And for sure, Đavolja varoš will certainly impress you, no matter whether pillars were made as a result of rain, wind, and sunshine, or they were the devil s work.