Kukavica mountain stretches from Leskovac to Vranje. Along the river Veternica. On its borders is the Grdelica gorge. Nature and its beauties in the narrowest sense. It’s highest peak, Vlajna is located at an altitude of 1441 meters above sea level. And it is located on the territory of the municipality of Vladicin Han. It is about twenty kilometers from it. It is about 16 kilometers from Leskovac and about 40 kilometers from Vranje. About 105 kilometers from Nis. And from the capital Belgrade to the mountain Kukavica is about 340 kilometers.

Kukavica mountain air factory

Due to the lush vegetation, Mountain Kukavica Serbia is considered as an air factory. Some even call it an air spa. Some of it is natural, and some of that forest is artificially forested. The golden beech makes up the largest part of these interesting forests. Besides it, there are wild blackberries, raspberries, medicinal herbs and potato “goljak”. Potato “goljak” is special type of potato that is found here in one of the rare locations. In addition to this, mountaineers on Kukavica can also pick mushrooms, which are in abundance.

From 1980 pert of this mountain is protected as nature reserve because of the forests that grow on it.

Road to Kukavica mountain, how to get to Kukavica mountain

Kukavica picnic place

The mountain Kukavica is a well-known picnic spot for the inhabitants of Leskovac. But also Vranje. Here you have hiking trails for walking and enjoying nature. A large number of plants and water springs that you can enjoy. And which will definitely improve your mood. In the first place, the Canyon of the river Vučjanka, Grdelica gorge, the Vlajna peak.

Jelova glava location Kukavica

During the Second World War, on March 23, 1943. year one event happened. The Bulgarian occupying army gathered the inhabitants of this part of country, 73 of them in total. And they shot them in cold blood. At the location of “Jelova glave”. Of all of them, some survived, and some were lucky to survive. There were certainly 59 victims. There is a monument to that event here. This event is also the event of its kind with the most victims in the area.

Kukavica mountain and water springs

It is assumed that there are a large number of water sources on the Kukavica mountain. One of the rivers that contribute to the water level is the river Vučjanka in the village of Vučje. It with its whirlpools and cauldrons is something that is nice to see in this untouched part of Serbia.

Barje lake on Kukavica mountain

Lake Barje is an artificial lake made in 1989. It was created by damming the river Veternica. Barje lake is also called the Barje reservoir. It is located near Vučje, in the village of Barje. It’s pretty inaccessible. It contains large quantities of various species of fish. This lake plays a big role in supplying water to Leskovac.

Jovac lake

Jovac lakes or Jovac lake location is on the mountain Kukavica. The river Jovac flows into them, after which they got their name. They are a real oasis of peace and beauty of nature. There are six of them. These are Žilevje, Rusimovo, Crkveno, Jovačko (also Srednje or Veliko), Malo and Živkovo lake. Jovacko is considered to be the main lake of this group. And besides him, there are five others as part of these lakes group. They represent a real oasis for lovers of nature and natural beauty.

Jovačka lakes are located in the municipality of Vladičin Han. In addition, you can go to other tourist attractions in the area. It was formed in 1977, by soil erosion. The earth from the surrounding hills and mountains started and blocked the river Jovac. So today you can see the remains of the village peeking out of the lake itself. Vranje and sights of Vranje. Leskovac and the sights of Leskovac are also nearby. Jovačka lakes are the habitat of the long-legged marmot (Trirurus kareliniii) and the marsh turtle (emysorbicularis). They are stocked, so they are a real fishermans paradise.

Bulin lake

Bulin lake is located on Kukavica mountain, in village Belanovica.

Kukavica mountain Legend

The legend of the name Kukavica refers to the period of the Battle of Kosovo. Legend is that this mountain was one of the gathering places for Serbian fighters before the battle. A large number of them were killed in the Battle of Kosovo. As many women became grieved by this event, their reaction was crying, whining (in serbian “kukanje”). Hence the name of the mountain Kukavica.

The legend of Bula Lake says that there is a hidden treasure to this day, on Mount Kukavica. Namely, at the time of the withdrawal of a Ottoman caravan, which was full of gold, people were walking through this area. As they crossed the lake, so loaded, they sank. The lake was also named Bulino Lake after the Ottoman women “bula”.

Kukavica mountain, landscape of Serbian mountain

Vladicin Han churches

When it comes to these churches and monasteries, it should be noted that there are several of them. Since Leskovac and Vranje, are the closest cities to this municipality, you can include them in sightseeing when visiting these cities. Vladicin han is about 30 kilometers away from Vranje, and 45 km from Leskovac.

Monastery Sveti prorok Ilija in Kacapun

The “Monastery Sveti prorok Ilija” (Saint prophet Ilija) is located in the village of Kacapun, 12 km from Vladicin Han. It is also about 55 kilometers from Leskovac and about 26 km from Vranje. The Monastery Sveti Ilija can be reached by road from Vranje to Vladicin Han. It belongs to the Diocese of Vranje and was built in the period from the 13th to the 15th century. This monastery is the endowment of the Nemanjic dynasty. It is believed that it was built on this place as part of the monasteries on the way to Hilandar. He had a tubular history. The frescoes inside the monastery were in the Byzantine style. And the front door, is a little lower so you had to bow when entering it.

monastery Sveti Ilija prorok, selo kapacun crkva

Although it had a long history, the monastery was not destroyed by the Ottomans during the conquest of these territories. According to the legend, it is because they have awe towards Saint Ilija. The monastery was abandoned in its history. The story that one of its monks raised people in an uprising during the Ottoman occupation is valid for this monastery. And also buried in the ground after the avalanche. The monastery dormitory burned down in a fire in May 2018, which is in the process of being renovated.

Manastery God mother resurrection in Vladičin Han

The Monastery Bogorodičino uspenje (Assumption of Mary) is located in the village Mrtvica, municipality of Vladicin Han. Exactly 14 kilometers from it. This monastery in the valley of the South Morava river has been extended and renovated several times during its history. For the last time it happened in the last century. Also, this monastery is located about 40 kilometers from Vranje or Leskovac. As a period of construction, the “Monastery Bogorodicino uspenje” is period from end of the 4th century to beginning of the 6th. The Monastery Bogorodičino uspenje in Mrtvica was, therefore, painted in the Byzantine style. From the time of Constantine the Great.

And the great reconstruction of this monastery took place in the 12th century. In addition to it, there were two other monasteries nearby, with a large fraternity. According to the monks, there were over a thousand of them in all three monasteries. Serbian knights of that time often came to communion here. Due to all this, the Monestery Bogorodicino uspenje is categorized as a cultural monument of great importance. The monastery was desecrated in 2013.

Church of Hristorovog preobraženja Stubal

Church Svetog Preobraženja Hristovog (The Holy Transfiguration of Christ) is located in villege Stubal. About ten kilometers from the municipality of Vladicin Han. Also, about 16 kilometers from Vranje. It is assumed that it was built in the 14th century, as an endowment of Marko Kraljević.

church on a nill. stubal church

According to one legend, he threw his mace to see where he would fall in order to build a monastery there. It always fell in the same place, on the top of the hill. He built the monastery under a cliff. At night the angels would carry all that is built on to the top of the hill. Then he decided to finish the monastery on that cliff. According to that legend, Jesus Christ also appeared here, which is why such a name for this monastery is the “Monastery preobraženja Gospodnjeg Isusa Hrista” (the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ). The monastery church was completely renovated in 1994. And in it there is an icons with 21 icons. The plaque at the entrance itself dates back to 1870, but the church is considered to be much older than that.

Holy Paraskeva church in Lepenica

Na oko 8 kilometara od Vladičinog hana se nalazi Isposnička crkva Prepodnobne mati Paraskeve. Takodje se naziva i “Latinska crkva”. Lokacija crkve je u selu Lepenica. Takodje se nalazi na oko 20 kiloemtara od Vranja. Do ovde se može stići kolima, i nakon toga pešaka.

About 8 kilometers from Vladicin Han is the the “Isposnička church Prepodnobne mati Paraskeva” (church of Venerable Mother Paraskeva). And also it is also called the “Latin Church”. The location of the church is in the village of Lepenica. It is also located about 20 kilometers from Vranje. You can get here by car, and then on foot.

Saint Panteleimon church in tree in village Jovac

Not far from Vranje, about 20 kilometers from it, there is a church in a tree. This is a small church, in a tree. What is its value? It was made in 1991 by Dragoljub Krstić. The church is for a maximum of three people due to the very small width of the oak.

Grdelica canyon

The part that stands out with its canyon looking at the edges of the Kukavica Mountain is the Grdelica gorge. With its southernmost part of Momina gorge. There is also a picnic area Predejana, with beautiful nature. Grdelica gorge was named after the village Grdelica next to when it is located. Apart from this, there is also Vladicin Han. Grdelica gorge is 34 kilometers long. It continues to the Vranje valley, on the one hand, and the Leskovac valley, on the other. Grdelčka gorge is a transport and geographical connection.


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Photo of Barje lake credits Geograf208 ; Barje and Kukavica Miljan Simonović ; Kacapun monastery photo credits Zoran Radosavljević