The Devil’s Town (Orasul Diavolului)

The Devil’s Town is a wonder of nature located in the southern part of Serbia. In fact, the uniqueness of the natural monument has contributed extensively to the fame this specific monument had gained – in as much that the Devil’s Town is a strong candidate for the natural wonders officially recognized throughout the world.

The Devil’s Town is actually a rock formation which has been listed in the aforementioned race back in 2010 and had managed to remain in the competition until the very end, only to lose during the final voting session. But this event triggered the collective effort to enlist the natural monument in the World Heritage Program developed by UNESCO.

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The Devil’s town, or Djavolja Varos (the Serbian ecquivalet of the name), is located on the slopes of Mount Radan, a mountain renowned for the increased number of mineral and therman springs that traverse it. The region abounds in minerals which means that the landscape is devoid af any type of vegetation. Another characteristic of the region is that it is prone to errossion. This natural phenomenon heavily contributed to the uniqueness of the landscape.

The landscape is striking due to the gloomy imagery conveyed. In fact, this comprises 202 figurines made out of earth that measure as much as two meters, all having some sort of lids on top. These are actually andesite formations, which represent a form of rock that has emerged as a consequence of a powerful volcano erruption that occurred milions of years ago. These formations have pressed the earth for years on end and the result was the distorted forms of relief that appeared.

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The process of formation for the Devil’s Town was a mystery for many years and due to the fact that no scientific explanation was provided, a considerable number of legends emerged. According to one such folklore, the figures are actually the ruins of churches which have been devastated by evil spirits. This story was nurtured by the constant change that occurred in the landscape. The errosion of the soil led to the modification in shape and size of the rock formations and the locals actually bellieved that these were moving by themselves – thus the myth of devils lurking in the region grew.

These myths were the ones to give the name to the natural monument. The Devil’s Town has become renowned only in the later years, when it has become a tourist attraction. In fact, this is the sole touristic objective located on the European continent which is comparable to the Garden of the Gods (located in the US) in terms of mesmerizing beauty.

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Among the legends that revolve around this specific place, there are some which are better known than others. For instance, it is widely believed that the earthen figures represent devils which have been petrified, rebels or even a wedding party that had suffered the same fate. The mythical tales have had a base on which to develop themselves. The region is also rich in streams of red water, a coloration given by the iron minerals that descend from the slopes of the mountain, and these again having contributed to the gloomy décor tourists are presented with.

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In mid-20th century, the Devil’s Town has been declared a natural monument protected under the law. In 1995, the state had issued a degree according to which the Devil’s Town was declared a monument of exceptional importance. Since then, many projects have been initiated in order to transform the Devil’s Town into a site of touristic interest: a road was built so as to permit circulation in and out of the region and all the necessary facilities were developed (water, illumination and aparking space). These improvements have contributed extensively to the increase of the number of tourists that come to the area. At present, the Devil’s Town is visited by 50.000 people on a yearly basis.