Mlava Source | Natural Heritage of Serbia

Eastern Serbia is a treasure trove of natural rarities that is likely still not fully explored to this day.

The geological structure of this region, consisting mostly of soluble limestone rocks, is primarily responsible for the diversity of relief forms, both on the surface and underground (caves and sinkholes). Additionally, this predominantly mountainous area has always been economically less developed, which is why it is still less connected by roads compared to some other parts of Serbia.

All of this has contributed to the preservation of nature in its original form, perhaps more than anywhere else in the country. Moreover, in this part of Serbia, you can find landscapes where there are almost no traces of human civilization.

Among the hundreds of rare and interesting natural phenomena in this region, one stands out as widely known. Due to its beauty and attractiveness, but above all its easy accessibility, it is included in the itineraries of most school excursions and tourist tours. We are talking about the source, or the Source of the Mlava River.

Source of the Mlava River (PHOTO: Nikola Igračev)

The Source of the Mlava River is located in Žagubica, less than a kilometer away from the town center. It belongs to the group of so-called siphon springs that occur exclusively in karst terrains, where they emerge to the surface from the underground under high hydrostatic pressure and are usually abundant in water.

However, at first glance, the Source of the Mlava River does not fit this description at all. The small lake with clear and transparent water, gently flowing through an organized channel, does not indicate a karst phenomenon. However, when the first explorers dived into it several decades ago, it was discovered that the source is located deep beneath the surface of this lake.

The Source of the Mlava River is actually a deep pit filled with water coming from the depths. Due to the strong upward flow towards the surface, underground exploration reached a depth of 84 meters, beyond which it became technically impossible. However, it is believed that the "filling" of the pit starts at an even greater depth.

The origin of water from great depths is testified, perhaps only by its temperature, which rarely exceeds 10-11 degrees even in the hottest summer months. The crystal-clear and icy water, depending on the season (surrounding vegetation) and sunlight, exhibits a turquoise blue to emerald green color, creating an exceptionally beautiful ambient phenomenon. On warm summer days, it poses a great temptation for many visitors, but swimming in the spring is not recommended due to the icy water.

The only inhabitants finding refuge in the icy water are the trout, which freely swim here but often end up on the plates of guests at the nearby restaurant.

Slowly flowing out of the lake, the waters of the Žagubica spring merge with the waters of the Tisnica River after about a hundred meters, forming the Mlava River - the same river that, on its way to the Danube, has carved the beautiful Gornjačka Gorge into the limestone rock.

In the vicinity of Žagubica, in the area of the village of Krupaja, there is another attractive spring, which has a very similar origin to the Source of the Mlava River. Equally captivating, the Krupaja Spring is, it seems, still an undervalued tourist attraction, but combined with the Source of the Mlava River, it offers a unique opportunity to visit two exceptionally rare natural phenomena just half an hour's drive apart.

Krupaja Spring (PHOTO: Nikola Igračev)