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Wild orchids grow at this large lake hidden in the middle of Belgrade. Humans are the only threat

Lake Veliko Blato (Serbian: Great Mud) is located between Belgrade's neighborhoods of Krnjaca, Ovca, and Borca

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Hidden between illegally built streets of Krnjaca and Borca, a little removed from the main roads and railroad tracks, is a huge Belgrade lake, more precisely a pond called Veliko Blato.

If you look at the map of Belgrade, you will realize that this body of water is not only close to the city center, but is also almost as big the entire Great War Island.

Thus, it would be fair to add to that graphical symbol of Belgrade that shows the Sava flowing into the Danube, and the famous Zemun island just one more detail - this lake, an otherwise protected nature reserve, where game and numerous birds gatheer, which a favorite spot of fishermen.

Veliko Blato

Photo: Google maps/Pixabay

The lake is large and relatively close by, yet so hidden away that our reporters had to make an effort to find it.

We walked along the Sebes Canal and then reached a pond, three separate lakes, behind which lies Veliko Blato itself. However, it was not easy to access, the whole space is fenced as this is private property, the Mika Alas farm.

Veliko Blato

The lake is difficult to see from the road, as it is surrounded by undergrowth; Photo: M.B.

Walking around the quiet ponds enjoyed by the fishermen, we finally found a spot where the view opens up right to the lake. It was full of water, though it sometimes dries out, and it reflected Belgrade's skyline. Still, we couldn't go any further - because we came across a fence again.

Veliko Blato

Photo: M. B.

As the workers told us, the whole lake is privately owned, so we were asked to return. The Mika Alas Ponds is a company that is in charge of management and maintenance, and the lake is accessible by land as well.

Veliko Blato

This is Veliko Blato; Photo: M. B.

For the time being, it's not possible to tour the lake as a tourist, although some nature and bird lovers contact the Mike Alas administration to ask for permission to walk around it.

Veliko Blato

Private property is located on the very bank; Photo: M.B.

No matter how curious people may be, their absence at this lake may be the key to its survival. That's because illegal settlements and illegal landfills are constantly expanding - but this small green belt between the city and the water still survives and protects this natural wilderness near Belgrade.

Veliko Blato

Blossoming lilies in the pond; Photo: M.B.

PROTECTED PLANTS AND BIRDS

At a time when the city is constantly expanding to the left bank of the Danube, this lake is a real gem and a green oasis that can only be wished for in a metropolis.

Veliko Blato

This secret Belgrade place is well known to fishermen; Photo: M.B.

Some rare plant species grow around the lake, and what makes it special not only in Belgrade, but also in the wider area, are the wild orchids.

You can find two types of this flower on the bank of Veliki Blato - and probably nowhere else in Serbia.

There are also as many as four species of heron that nest at Veliko Blato, numbering dozens of couples.

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(M. B.)

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