“Among the mountain giants of the south Slavic countries, the most powerful and most magnificient is Durmitor.” (Kurt Hassert, German geographer)
Durmitor, mountain and the national park
The Durmitor massif is located in the widest and highest part of Dinarides. It is the most known and the highest mountain
of Northern Montenegro. The highest peak of Durmitor is Bobotov Kuk, 2 523 meters above the sea level. The name Durmitor
derives from Celtic words “dru mi tore” which mean “the mountain filled with water”.
The massif of Durmitor with its exceptional beauties of nature, attractive morphology, specific hidrography, distinctive landscape, and very rich and interesting living world, deserved to become the National park in 1952. The park, located in northwestern Montenegro, includes Durmitor massif with canyons of rivers Tara, Draga, Sušica and Komarnica and it covers an area of 39 000 ha.
The base of Durmitor area is a waste plateau with an altitude of 1500m above the sea level. The plateau is intersected by deep canyons and impressive peaks, out of which 48 soar over 2000m of altitude, and the highest among them is Bobotov Kuk reaching 2523m of altitude.
The massif of Durmitor has its special appeal because of its 18 glacial lakes, nicknamed “Gorske oči” (“Eyes of the Mountain”). The biggest and the most attractive is Crno jezero (Black lake). Besides the beauty of the lake basin and its glittering water surface, a vast forest area which surrounds the lake and the giant peak called Međed, which rises above it, largely contribute to the beauty of its landscape.
The powerful rivers with their magnificent canyons are some of the most beautiful ornaments of the Durmitor National Park. The Tara River is especially impressive, not just because of the beauty of its flow but also because of its landscapes and depth of its canyon, which is one of the most beautiful in the world.
Due to the richness of flora and fauna, complexity of its ecosystems, 1,300 species of vascular plants denoting the exceptional concentration of endemic and relict species, Durmitor represents the magnificent natural value and constant inspiration for scientists and nature lovers.
Durmitor National Park has a significant number of cultural monuments, from the ancient period to the present day. The most characteristic are the medieval monuments: the ruins of towns and fortifications, bridges and watchtowers, the necropolis and monastery complexes in the valley of the Tara River.
Due to its exceptional and unique nature, environmental and cultural values of Durmitor mountain and Tara river, The National park Durmitor was inscribed into the Register of World’s Natural Heritage of UNESCO by decision of International World Heritage Committee in 1980 in Paris. The Tara River Basin (182.899 ha of surface) was inscribed into the ecological biosphere reserve on 17th of January 1977 and therefore it is protected by UNESCO’s Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The Durmitor massif is inscribed in IBA and IPA areas (Important Bird Areas and Imporatnt Plant Areas)
The Tara River Canyon, unique by its 1000m depth, reaching 1300m at some points, is the second deepest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon of Colorado River in the USA. The Tara River has 150km long flow and it is the longest river in Montenegro. On the territory of the Durmitor National Park, the Tara River has its average fall of 3.6m/km, and it makes waterfalls, rapids and cascades which give a great compliment to the untouched nature of the Park.
A small town at the foot of Durmitor Mountain, is the place where "the most beautiful cruelty of nature" attracts tourists
from all over the world. Lucky for them if the flight is canceled so they can spend another day in Zabljak. Here, at 1450
meters above sea level, snow remains up to six months, and the height of the snow cover sometimes exceeds two meters.
The territory of the municipality of Žabljak covers an area of 445 km2, or 3.22% of the territory of Montenegro and it is the 15th largest out of 21 municipalities in Montenegro. The municipality of Žabljak represents a "Geographic roof" of Montenegro, since over 30% of its territory lies at an altitude above 1,500 meters. Zabljak is the highest urban settlement not only in Montenegro, but also in the Balkans. It is surrounded by 23 mountain peaks over 2,200 meters (among which Bobotov Kuk dominates with its 2,523 meters above sea level), by 18 lakes and the Tara Canyon, the deepest canyon in Europe.
The first Slav name of Žabljak was "Varezina voda" (“Vareza’s Water”), probably because of the strong source of drinking water, around which the settelment was formed. Later, the settlement was renamed as "Hanovi" (originally "Anovi"), where trade caravans were resting. The settlement was officially named Zabljak in 1870, when in a single day began the building of a church, school and captain's home. During the wars old buildings were destroyed. All that has remained is the church of Sv.Preobraženja (Holy Transfiguration), built in 1862 as a monument to a Montenegrin victory in the battle against the Turks (Ottoman Empire).
Snowball fights, sledging, skiing, snowboarding on the slopes of Durmitor Mountain, represent the part of tourism offer of this place. Ski slopes of resorts Savin kuk and Javorovača are adapted for all disciplines. The bravest rafting enthusiast go down the Tara River even in winter conditions while, in summer, rafting is inevitable activity for visitors of Žabljak.
Bars and hotels in the town offer pleasant entertainment. Often, they are places for New Year’s celebration.
The Black Lake is a favorite recreational place for families. Numerous travel writers and poets wrote about its crystal blue color. In winter, it is covered by the ice sheet and in summer its water warms up to 20 degrees so it is possible to swim in it.
Gorgeous, randomly shaped nature was inspitation for myths and folk tales about fairies, dragons, devils. Durmitor is the "homeland" of Duke Momčilo and his winged horse Jabučilo, as well as of the legendary person Marko Kraljevic.
Events* "Mountain Flowers Days" is the most important event in the National Park Durmitor.
It is held every year in Zabljak from 11th to13th July and it includes:
- Wedding at the Black Lake (12th July),
- Memorial Danilo Jauković (13th July) with organized climb to Bobotov kuk,
- Organized hiking tour to Savina voda in the early morning hours.
* Cup Black Lake – sport fishing competition (July),
* Municipal sport fishing competition at the Vražje jezero (June),
* Sport fishing competition - Tara Cup (August),
* Sport fishing competition of pensioners at the Crno jezero (August),
* Durmitor Summer Fest (first half of August),
* 8th March exhibition of handicrafts (8th March),
* Days of local healthy food (beginning of August),
* Golden Eagle of Durmitor (second half of March).
National dishes are prepared in numerous restaurants and taverns characterized by a cozy and friendly atmosphere. Most of
their architecture reminds of traditional Montenegrin houses that were built from stone and wood. Traditionally the guests
are welcomed with homemade brandy, priganice (kind of fritters) and honey.
Specialties of the local cuisine are cicvara, homemade yogurt, homemade pies of buckwheat flour, dried meat and meat roasted under the sač (a large metal or ceramic lid like a shallow bell over which ashes and live coals are placed), mountain cheeses and many other traditional dishes made with products from local farms.
The Durmitor area is known for its abundance of forest fruit and healing herbs, therefore extraordinary teas and fruit juices can be found at each table. We should not forget the fish specialties, first of all brown trout.
Interesting facts about Žabljak and its surroundings
Žabljak is the highest town in Balkans. It is located at 1450m above the sea level, it covers an area of 445 km2 and it has
over 4500 inhabitants. There are 120 to150 days with snow per year. The highest snow cover was 210cm.
Due to the fact that it represents the largest reservoir of drinking water in Europe, the Tara River is named “the tear of Europe”. The river’s canyon reaches 1330m of depth what makes it the deepest canyon in Europe, second deepest in the world after the Grand Canyon. The Tara River is the longest river in Montenegro.
Đurđevića Tara Bridge was listed as one of 20 most beautiful bridges in the world by the choice of the Bright Side portal. Its five arches, 370m long, jump across the wild river from one coast to another. The first arch is especially magnificent. Its span is 116 meters, and its altitude is 150,9 meters above the river.
The Ljutica River, left tributary of Tara River, is proud of its two European records. It is the shortest and the most powerful river in Europe. It is 130 meters long and its force at the time of melting snows can be measured with more than 100 cubic meters of water per second. It is real miracle of nature.
It emerges from the cliffs of the Tara Canyon, 35 meters above its confluence, where it joins to the Tara River. It is white and foamy all along its course.
Čeline is a periodical source at the foot of Međed Peak, above the Black Lake. In the spring when snow melts, the Čeline Source “explodes (burst)” with great roar and water cascades fall into the lake. If there is not enough snow during the winter, this natural phenomenon will not happen and the level of the lake stays low.
The deepest pit in Montenegro is located in Vjetrena brda in the Durmitor Massif. It is 898 meters deep.