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20. 08. 2021.

Great War Island – a jungle in the city

Two Danube islands – Great and Little War Island are located where the Sava flows into the Danube. At the foot of the Kalemegdan Fortress, between Belgrade and Zemun. These are the islands we see across the Zemun quay, from the lookout on Gardoš Tower, from May 25th promenade, from the Plateau near Pobednik Monument or when we cruise the rivers of the capital. They are visible from many other locations in the vicinity.


This wilderness in an urban and fast-paced city like Belgrade is a real mystery. In fact, they are the Danube embankment that emerged sometime in the 16th century. Nearly 211 hectares is a protected area of local importance. In addition, every other surface of Great and Little War Island soil, that appears above river when water level is the lowest are also protected, as long as they are in some way connected to these river islands. As well as all reefs that occur or may occur due to water currents and changes in vegetation, or as a consequence of deposits.


To this day, this Belgrade oasis is uninhabited by people. But it is therefore rich in flora and fauna and represents a nature reserve of exceptional importance for the preservation of the habitat of rare and endangered wetland birds. Lush vegetation is built by aquatic and wetland communities, as well as floodplain forests of white willow, almond willow, black hawthorn, black poplar, green ash and false indigo bush – which is the source of the highest quality pollen.


Great War Island is a permanent or temporary home for over 150 species of birds, different families and genera. Numerous species inhabit there during migration seasons, so they can rest in a mini rainforests before crossing borders. Some species live in such habitats throughout the year, and some use them for nesting.


When the level of the Danube rises in the springs, many fish species spawn by entering temporarily formed or permanent ponds on the island itself. Isolated from any kind of human activity, ponds are suitable natural fruiting body for fish.


Vegetation typical for ponds is formed on this island, and in the central part it builds “underwater meadows”. Most typical species in these meadows are thrush, crocus, spiral and water fern. Rare specimens of the white water lily, which is on the list of protected natural species, can be seen on the surface of ponds.


The Great War Island can be reached only from Zemun’s Lido beach, by boat or pontoon bridge, which is set up in the summer months. Other ways to get around it is by kayak, which has become extremely popular in recent years, and as of this year, there are also ecological walking tours. Use the opportunity and step deep into the city jungle.

Surrounded by big blue that protects it, the endless greenery at the confluence of two rivers is a special gem of a big city. Have you been there yet?



Veliko ratno ostrvo