This valuable locality consists of two, rare in the world natural phenomena: earth figures, as specific forms of relief, which seem very attractive in space, and two sources of water, high mineralization. The attractiveness of the phenomenon is complemented by the natural ambience, which around the earthen figures seems mystical, and in the wider environment vivid and tame.
The monument of nature, “Devil’s Town” is located in the South of Serbia, 27km southeast of Kuršumlija, 89km southwest of Niš and 288km away from Belgrade. This natural monument is comprised of two natural and rare in the world phenomena: the soil figures, as specific forms of relief which appear rather attractive, and two springs of extremely acid water with high mineralization.
These two rare phenomena are together observed as the “Devil’s Town”, and are a remarkable wonder of nature. The peculiarity of these wonders of nature is complemented by the natural surroundings of the soil figures, seeming very harsh, almost mystical, and in the wider area picturesque and tame. The remains of a settlement, the old church and a few interesting mining groves, only add to the uniqueness of this place.
The “Devil’s Town” is put under the protection of the state in 1959., and in 1995. It was declared a natural monument of great importance by the Republic of Serbia Government Decree, and it was put under the first category of protection – NATURAL MONUMENT. In total, 67ha were put under protection. Currently, a request for protection of 1014ha is reviewed by the RS Government.
The Soil Figures
The strangely named site the “Devil’s Town” is located in an also strangely named village Djake (Turkish word “gjak” means blood), at an altitude of 660-700msl, which belongs to the municipality of Kursumlija. The soil figures, or as the locals call them – pillars, are located in two gullies divided by a narrow watershed whose base parts are connected into a singular erosive formation, immensely destroyed by the erosive processes. The gullies also have strange names, one is called the “Devil’s Gully”, and the other “Hell’s Gully”.
There are 202 soil figures in total, in different shapes and sizes, the height ranging from 2 to 15m, width from 0.5 to 3m, all having the stone cap on top. They are created as a result of a specific erosive process which lasts for centuries. The figures are created, they grow and change, shorten and gradually (very slowly) disappear and appear anew. Under the impact of rain, the friable soil is dissolving and being washed away. However, the material beneath the stone blocks is protected from the “raindrop bombs” and washout, so it remains in place as a germinal soil columns – the pillars.
The increase in the pillar height is helped out by the accelerated linear water erosion, which flows around their base, washing the soil around them. As the slope of the terrain is rather steep, the vertical erosion prevails over side erosion, which accelerates the washing away of the soil and the creation of pillars.
The soil figures created in this way are shaped by the other climate factors (the wind, sunshine, change in temperature), so that they appear unrealistic when observed for a longer time, not only for their shape and size, but also for their incredible static constancy. It seems unreal that one soil figure that’s 3m wide at the base, 10m high and ends in 20-30cm in width, remains that way for decades and centuries under a stone block which weighs over 100 kilograms.
This geomorphological phenomenon is unique in our country and extremely rare in the world. In Europe, there are similar sites in the Alps (on both sides of the Brenner Pass in Austria and Italy, near Bolzano, and also in Valerian, in Upper Savoy in France, etc.) In America, the “Garden of the Gods” is very famous. However, in the “Devil’s Town”, the “pillars” are more numerous, larger in size and significantly more constant.
Another natural rarity in “Devil’s Town” are two springs of extraordinary properties. “Devil’s Water” (“Djavolja voda”), which is located in the immediate vicinity of these soil 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 (aluminum, iron, potassium, copper, nickel, sulfur). “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.
The peculiarly sculpted and positioned soil figures, the wild erosive platform, water of strange smell and taste, the mysticism created by the sound effects of the wind blowing, have influenced the imagination of the local folk to name the site “Devil’s Town”, and all of these strange occurrences are explained through legends.
According to the first legend, long time ago, this area was inhabited by humble, calm and religious people. This annoyed the devil so he created the “Devil’s Water” which would make them forget their family ties. 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, followed by numerous guests. At that moment, the fairy started praying to God to somehow stop the incest from happening. God heard her prayer and created a terrible storm that connected the earth with the sky. Then the cold wind blew and the wedding guests were turned to stone.
Church of St Petka
One of the legends about Devil’s Town says that figures represent devils, wich were carried on humans back for a long time with great suffering, and transformed into stones, by spending the night in front of the st. Petka’s church, people get rid of their demons wich were transformed into stones.
St. Petka helps sick and weak people wich use this place with handkerchief and make a wish, after that you put it on a small tree, all your problems will stay in Devils Town. Handkerchief stay on this place for 7 days, and after that we bury them into ground so the suffer stay here forever.
The outdoors restaurant in the Devil’s Town with 80 seat capacity is open from April to October. All the tables are covered with big sunshades, and a part of the tables is under the tavern. We recommend the specialties made under sač (a local type of Dutch oven) – lamb and veal.
How to get to Devil’s Town?
The gemorphological phenomenon "Đavolja varoš" (Devil’s Town) is located in the village of Đake, 30 km southeast of Kuršumlija on the slopes of Radan Mountain. It can be reached by turning off the highway Niš-Kuršumlija-Priština near Sastavaki, a narrow asphalt road to the village of Zebice (5.7 km), a good asphalt road to the entrance to the protected area (3 km) and on foot to the lookout (900 m).