Kopaonik – The most beautiful mountain in southeastern Europe

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Kopaonik PanoramaKopaonik, the largest mountain in Serbia, is one of the places that during the year provides ideal conditions for active relaxation and enjoyment. Kopaonik is our largest and most famous mountain, tourist and ski resort. Due to its natural values, 1981 year, was proclaimed for the national park.

Thanks to rarefied air with reduced partial pressure, mountain climate has more medicinal effect on the human organism than climate in the seaboard.

It comes to deeply breathing, increasing the number of red blood grains, in dependence of altitude, that is the most ideal just on Kopaonik, therefore Kopaonik is known as factory of red blood grains. Stay on this mountain is recommended to asthmatic and smokers, because in fully eliminate attack of astma and smoker bronchitis. The children who often visits Kopaonik acquire the ability to better submission of physical efforts, and just because of that the professional sportsmen are the permanent guests of the most famous winter tourist centre in Serbia.

NATURAL CHARACTERISTICS

The northern border of the massif is separated from the massif of the mountain Željina by the rivers Jošanička reka and Koznička reka.
At the western side, along the whole Kopaonik mountain – ridge, the Ibar gorge is placed.
The eastern side is bounded by the rivers Rasina and Toplica valleys.
The region’ s geology dates back 70 million years ago when the older sedimentary rocks were exposed to the strong tectonic movements and to the volcano activity which caused dent and issue of the magmatic cliffs.
This is why Kopaonik distinguishes itself by its geological structure of rocks of different inception and age ( granites, serpentinites, slates, marbles, andesites, lime – stones ) .
The later processes of erosion during past millenniums created present – day outlines of the relief of Kopaonik.

Climate of Kopaonik, with almost 200 sunny days annually, deserves credit for Kopaonik’ s other name – ” mountain of the Sun “. The southern position of the massif, level and openness of the terrain prevent continual detaining of cloudiness over the mountain. Colder and heavier air moves through the nearby valleys and ravines so that winter temperatures are not too low. Kopaonik has sub – alpine climate. Average annual temperature of the Flat Kopaonik is 3, 7° C.
It starts snowing at the end of November and it snows until May, 159 days a year in average. On average, precipitation are higher than 1000 mm a year.
Kopaonik, where people used to work mines from old times, was named after its ore resources ( kopati – to dig ) .
The volcano activity and discharge of hot mineral solutions caused changes on the nearby old rocks because of high temperatures and heavy pressures. That is how ” mining region of Kopaonik ” came to be, with a large number of mines from old times.
In the Kopaonik region, besides the usual ores: metals iron, lead and zinc, there are rare metals silver and gold and rare minerals: volastonite, fluor – spar, asbestos and others.

Besides thermal waters, there are also slightly mineralized waters on Kopaonik. In the first place, these are slightly radioactive springs Krčmar vode and Marine vode at the heights of 1700 – 1950 m.

LIVING WORLD – FLORA AND FAUNA

Kopaonik is situated at the border of two significant Balkans provinces, Illyrian ( western and more humid ) and Moesian ( eastern and drier ) with considerable influence of southern, mediterranean and sub – mediterranean regions and northern Pannonian regions.
Favorable hill and mountain climate with considerable quantities of the water sediment and snow cover guarantees a long period of vegetation and a creation of a large volume of biomass.
Heterogeneous geological foundation ( granite, metamorphic, limestone and serpentinite ) enables detainment of humidity and water reserves which are sufficient enough for life of plants and other organisms.
During severe winters, thick snow cover protects permanent and delicate parts of plants, animals and other organisms from low temperatures and frosts.
Geomorphological and orographic characteristics enable formation of the most various habitats of the plant and animal world in proportion to the height above sea – level, exposure, ground slopes and other.

Plant world – Flora

Favorable natural conditions of this high mountain massif enable development of almost all the forest mountainous belts with prime and autochthonous forest vegetation wich used to spread to the very mountain tops, where at those times had two smaller areas covered with mountainous bushy and grassy vegetation of the Alpine – Nordic character.
That’ s why the plant world ( flora ) of the Kopaonik massif is so rich and various.
It contains numerous and various species of trees, bushes, herbaceous plants, seed plants, fern, moss, lichen, mushrooms etc. A lot of them have healing properties and they are known as herb teas ( Klamath weed, wild thyme, milfoil etc. ) .
Above the forests in the lower regions ( Turkey oak, hornbeam, oak – tree, common pear tree ) , there is a belt of beech tree forest ( Fagus moesiaca ) in which there are mapie ( greater maple ) and sugar maple ( Acer pseudoplatanus, Acer platanoides ) , ash – tree ( Fraxinus excelsior ) , common maple, lime – tree and at the higher regions fir trees ( Albies Alba ) .
The highest forest belt on Kopaonik placed on the altitude of 1500 m is covered with thick spruce forests ( Pieceetum excelsae ) .
At the highest altitudes ( 1750 -1900 m ) the spruce forests become less thick and they are replaced with low bushes where the most prevailing plants are juniper – bush ( juniperus nana ) and blueberry ( vaccinium myrtillus ) as well as the other species of the ground floor among which we should single out Gentiana Lutea, great mullein and edelweiss.
Endemic species, like Leontopodium alpinum, ought to be particularly pointed out. The higest regions are covered with grassy vegetation of pasture – grounds.
Distinct characteristic of the plant world of the high Kopaonik is represented by peat – bogs. Peat – bogs are not very thick with specific plant species of peat. Peat – bogs of Kopaonik are over 1000 years old. Here, they are called Bare. The most famous ones are: Jankova bara, Crvene bare, Barska reka.

Animal world – Fauna

The animal world of the present Kopaonik is various despite it being reduced in number, especially of the big game. Several decades ago, bear, lynx, deer, wildcat, marten, otter and falcon and horned owl used to live here.
Today, the only species left are wolf and other game such as doe, fox, hare, and also different kinds of birds – small number of horned owl, falcon, partridge, eagle, as well as the bird red crossbill which feeds on conifer seeds.
Among the insects, we should point out Sibirian grass – hopper which lives in the high cold regions of the mountain.
The brown trout lives in the clear waters and rapids of the Samokovska reka.

HISTORICAL HERITAGE

Early Byzantin basilic ruins /IV-V c./ isdiscovered in the year 1999, in site Crkvina – Nebeska Stolica at 1800m a. s. l. ( E – 6 ) .
Historical traces of the broader region of Kopaonik reveal Illyrian and pre-lllyrian heritage. Roman settlements and later Slav consolidation.
Medieval sources, the charters of Stefan Nemanja and his successors, note this region as a parish in the region of the Ibar, from Zvečan to the river West Morava with Kopaonik in the center of the region.

Ruins of the fortifications placed on the mountain tops surrounding the central massif prove the historical significance of the Kopaonik region, like of the center of the Serbian medieval state ( ruled by the Dynasties Nemanjić, Lazarević and Branković ) .Towns Zvečan ( XI – XIV century ) , Maglič ( XIV ) , Brvenik ( XIV ) , Vrh Lab ( XIV ) , Koznik ( XV ) guarded fertile region of the wine – growing district, ore and forest wealth of Kopaonik and rich pious foundations of the Serbian rulers:
Petrova crkva ( VIII – IX century ) near Novi Pazar
Studenica ( XI – XII century ) near Ušće
Žiča ( XIII century ) near Kraljevo
Sopoćani ( XIII century ) near Novi Pazar
Djurdjevi stubovi (?? century) near Novi Pazar
Gradac ( XII century ) near Raška
Pavlica ( XIV century ) near Raška.

Kopaonik has a rich mining past. The historical sources note King of Raška Stefan Uroš I who brought from Germany hired miners, know as Saxons. The miners’ settlements and towns, together with the melting plants and mints: Stari Trg, Novo Brdo, Rogozno, Plana, were situated in the surrouding district.
Mining region of Kopaonik was the most prosperous in XIV and XV century during the Despotate when it developed trade with the Dubrovnik Republic, Byzantium and Western Europe.
Mining of this region was ruined after the raids of the Turks in XV century and it revived in the XIX and XX century.
Even today, we can find the remnants and traces of the old excavations from the Roman  and Medieval times on Kopaonik.

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