Skadar Lake

skadar-lakeSkadar Lake is situated on the border of Albania. It is the largest of all lakes found in the Balkan Peninsula. In 1983, the Montenegrin area of the lake and the lands surrounding it were declared a national park. In 1996 it was added by the Ramsar Convention to the World’s List of Wetlands of International Importance. In 2011 the region was nominated for heritage status with UNESCO. Today, millions of visitors flock to the area to view the beautiful natural landscape.

Skadar Lake was the region where royal families chose to spend their summers and where Turkish invaders tried to take over. Some of the finest wines and cuisine can be found near Skadar Lake and many in Montenegro feel that this region is the heart of their country.
Skadar Lake has had a long and cultural history. It was a battleground for many centuries, after being invaded by the Turks during the 13th century. The Turks left the area after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and in 1875, the borders were confirmed to be part of independent Montenegro by the Congress of Berlin. Skadar town remained incorporated into Albania while other villages in the region became part of independent Montenegro. Today, villages in the area retain strong Albanian influences and many residents are fluent in both the Serbian and Albanian languages.

lake-skadarDuring the 19th and 20th centuries, King Nikola set up a summer court in the Skadar region. During World War II, the town of Virpazar experienced a Partisan uprising and there are monuments in the town today paying tribute to those who fell during that uprising. The region is calm today with many visitors coming from all over the world to experience the tranquil beauty that the lake has to offer.

Centuries ago, Skadar Lake met the sea and there are seashell fossils scattered about the region today. When tectonic plates moved and volcanos overflowed, sea levels fell and the Zeta-Skadar plains began to emerge between the mountainsides of the Dinaric Alps. The lake is fed by a series of springs underground as well as the Moraca River. The area of the lake changes during the seasons and in the summer, it can be as wide as 370 kilometers. During the winter it is normally more than 500 kilometers as it gains water from the surrounding mountains. The average span is about 44 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide. The lake is more than 8 meters deep in some areas and can hit 60 meters deep in others.

Wildlife is massive in the area with everything from birds to a range of fish. More than 260 bird species can be found in the Lake Skadar region and the surrounding mountains are home to a wide range of tortoises, snakes and lizards. Wild boar and various wolves have been seen in the region as well. Many medicinal herbs have been found here and wild orchids grow abundantly. As the lake swells during the winter months, more than 50,000 birds spend their winters here and visitors can enjoy a tremendous amount of trout, carp, perch and pike in the lake.

 

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