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Đetinja (Ђетиња)
The river Đetinja as it runs through the city of Užice
Country Serbia
Physical characteristics
Main source Zlatibor, western Serbia
River mouth with Golijska Moravica makes Zapadna Morava, near Požega, Serbia
43°50′50″N 20°04′23″E / 43.8472°N 20.0731°E / 43.8472; 20.0731Coordinates: 43°50′50″N 20°04′23″E / 43.8472°N 20.0731°E / 43.8472; 20.0731
Length 75 km (47 mi)[1]
  • Average rate:
    1.93 m3/s (68 cu ft/s) (at Vrutci dam)
Basin features
Progression West MoravaGreat MoravaDanubeBlack Sea
Basin size 1,210 km2 (470 sq mi)[2]

Đetinja (Serbian: Ђетиња), pronounced [d͡ʑě̞tiɲa]) is a river in western Serbia, a 75 km (47 mi) long[1] natural but shorter headstream of the Zapadna Morava River.

The Đetinja river valley serves as a route for the Belgrade-Bar railway.


According to the legend which describes how the Đetinja River got its name, the Ottoman Turks in the times when they ruled these lands, once punished the local Užican people by taking their children and brutally throwing them into the river. Thus the river was named Đetinja rijeka, which in Užican dialect means the children's river. Later rijeka (river) was just dropped out of the river name, leaving only Đetinja (meaning children's).

However, the name probably originates from the old name Cetina, which meant "Horse river" and even today, one of the streams which form Đetinja is called Konjska reka (Serbian for Horse river).[3]

Zlatibor section[edit]

The Đetinja River, as the Matijaševića reka, originates from the southeastern slopes of the Tara mountain, in western Serbia, near the field of Pusto polje. From the source to its mouth, the river flows in the eastern direction. First, it runs through the small Kremna depression, between the Tara and Zlatibor mountains, following the northern border of Mt. Zlatibor. At Kremna, five streams flow into the one river, forming Đetinja: Matijaševića reka, Konjska reka, Bratešina, Užički potok and Tomića potok.[3]

Užice section[edit]

Đetinja Gorge[edit]

Đetinja carved a gorge, 8 km (5.0 mi) long and 300 m (980 ft) deep. At the village of Vrutci, the river is dammed in 1986, creating an artificial Lake Vrutci. The reservoir was supposed to solve the chronic water problems of the fast-growing town of Užice and its industry (in 1961-91, the city population grew by 266%, from 20,060 to 53,310). From the south, Đetinja receives the right tributary of Sušica, coming from the central parts of Zlatibor, and enters the Užice valley.

There are two large caves in this section. One, Megara, is situated in the gorge and the other is Potpećka cave, downstream from Užice. Several hot springs are also located in the gorge, which is also known for its wildlife, including some of the rare and endemic plant species. Also, it is one of the areas in Serbia with the most abundant number of different butterfly species.[3] Out of 192 recorded butterfly species in Serbia, 110 can be found in the Đetinja Gorge. The river itself is inhabited by the various fish species (European chub, common barbel, gudgeon, common nase), but also by the Eurasian otter. Birds include peregrine falcon, northern goshawk, Eurasian sparrowhawk, short-toed snake eagle and numerous passerine birds. Among the mammals present in the gorge there are wild boar, roe deer and fox. Concerning plants, 24 species found in the area are internationally listed as "important", while 6 are rarities.[4]

Remains of the several settlements dating from the periods of the earliest development of the civilization are found in the gorge and around it.[3] There are two major finds. The Staparska Gradina, near the Stapari village, is 11 km (6.8 mi) away from Užice. It was thoroughly explored in the late 1950s when the three levels of human habitation were discovered. The lowest and oldest is dated into the Neolithic. The middle level corresponds to the Vinča-Pločnik culture and the third one belongs to the Bronze age. The dugouts were discovered in the oldest levels, but also the above-ground dwelling objects from the later periods. The artifacts are exhibited in the National Museum in Užice. The other find is the Rimsko groblje ("Roman cemetery"). It hasn't been explored as much as the Staparska Gradina was, but the remnants of the large, above-ground and regularly shaped stone plates. In 2015 locals build a public drinking fountain at the site.[5]

Undeveloped Staparska Banja ("Stapari Spa") with several thermal springs is also located in the gorge. In 2017 a pedestrian and bicycle path was built which reached the spa. Though two pools were constructed and there are swimmers, the spa is basically a mudflat. Thermal waters, with the temperature of 31 °C (88 °F) help with the rheumatism and skin diseases.[5] Along the new path, which follows the route of the former railroad, there are additional, old pathways, dating from the Ottoman period. In July 2017 volunteers organized and cleaned those old paths, removed the overgrowth and made 2.15 km (1.34 mi) of old paths accessible for the pedestrians.[6] The path now starts at the Užice city beach and curves through the natural environment for 5 km (3.1 mi) to Staparska Banja. In September 2017, as the first greenway in Serbia, it received the 2nd prize at the 8th European Greenways Awards.[7][8]

A ridable miniature railway was organized in 2018. It goes through the gorge, using the revitalized path. The route is 8 km (5.0 mi) long and connects Užice and Staparska Banja. The thermal springs were used in Roman times. A project on revitalizing the spa and its surroundings was drafted in 2018.[9]

Užice Fortress[edit]

In Užice, Đetinja runs near the remnants of an early mediaeval fortress of Užički Grad located on a steep hill surrounded by deep river canyon-like gorge. The fort originates from the 14th century. The ruins were partially revitalized in the mid 1980s and the next reconstruction, basically a continuation of the 1980s works, ensued in August 2017. For now, the reconstruction of the upper town, middle town and water tower is planned. Part will be conserved and part will be repaired. A possible modernization of the feature, which would include the bridge which would connect the fortress with the Zlatibor road, cable car, museum, hotel, etc., was also considered by the city administration.[10]


There is also a small hydroelectrical power plant on the Đetinja in Užice, the oldest one in Serbia and Balkan, second oldest in Europe and third oldest in world after Niagara in United States, designed according to Nikola Tesla's principles, built in 1899 and still being in use, but the large hydroelectrical potential of the river is not being used enough.

Near the Užice city centre, Đetinja is dammed to create a public swimming area. The Đetinja continues through the highly industrialized Užice's suburb of Sevojno and the villages of Gorjani and Potpeće.

Požega section[edit]

The river continues on the northern slopes of the Blagaja mountain and the villages of Uzići, Rupeljevo and Rasna and enters the low Tašti field, located between the Blagaja, Krstac and Crnokosa mountains, west of the town of Požega. In the field, the Đetinja receives from the left its main tributary, the Skrapež River, but less than a kilometer after the confluence, it meets the Golijska Moravica River from the south, creating the Zapadna Morava. Since the proximity of the confluences of Đetinja, Skrapež and Golijska Moravica, some sources consider all three rivers to be direct headstreams of the Zapadna Morava. Following the direction of the course, the Đetinja is a natural headstream of the Zapadna Morava, but since Golijska Moravica is 23 kilometres longer, the latter is usually considered as the main headstream.

The Đetinja's drainage area covers 1,210 km2 (470 sq mi),[2] it belongs to the Black Sea drainage basin. The river is not navigable.


Hydroelectric power plant "Pod Gradom", built in 1899

There are two small hydroelectrical power plants on the Đetinja. One is named “Pod Gradom” (“Suburban”) and is the oldest one in Serbia and on the Balkans, second oldest in Europe and third oldest in the world after Niagara in United States and was also designed according to Nikola Tesla's principles. The foundation stone was laid in June 1899 by King Alexander I Obrenović. It became operational in August 1900 and is still occasionally in use, using the original Siemens engines from 1900 which were repaired in 2000. It was an enterprise of a group of Užice's industrialist, which decided to introduce the electricity in order to bust the production and lower the costs. However, the project was quite expensive. Purchase of the equipment, construction of the plant and the city grid cost 215,000 dinars in silver. The equipment was shipped by train from Berlin to Kragujevac, and then by carts through the muddy roads to Užice. The half-automatized plant produces 40 to 60 kWh per hour.[11] The hydro plant is turned into the museum of technics and is placed under the state protection. Reconstruction of the facility began in 2017 and is to be finished in 2018. Aggregates, which are considered to be museum exhibits, will be repaired in a way to keep their authenticity.[12][13]

The other power plant on Đetinja is “Turica”, built in 1929, but the large hydroelectrical potential of the river is not being used enough.[12] It is located 100 m (330 ft) upstream from the town's beach and was named after the Užice's neighborhood Turica. It is situated between the Belgrade–Bar railway and the surrounding hills. It has two generators with 200 kWh each. During the 2017-18 reconstruction it was updated with the new equipment and the process was automatized.[13]

Altogether, there are three artificial lakes on the Đetinja: Velika brana, Mala brana and Vrutci.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Serbia 2017 (PDF) (in Serbian and English). Belgrade: Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. October 2017. p. 16. ISSN 0354-4206. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  2. ^ a b Velika Morava River Basin, ICPDR, November 2009, p. 2
  3. ^ a b c d e "Da li znate? - Odakle potiče ime reke Đetinje?" [Do you know? - What is the origin of the name Đetinja?], Politika (in Serbian), January 2017 
  4. ^ Branko Pejović (13 May 2018). "Evropska zelena staza u klisuri leptira" [European green path in the butterfly gorge]. Politika-Magazin, No. 1076 (in Serbian). pp. 20–21. 
  5. ^ a b Branko Pejović (19 June 2017), "Do banje i gradine kroz tunele uz Rajske otoke" [Through the tunnels at Rajski Otoci to the spa and Gradina], Politika (in Serbian), p. 13 
  6. ^ Branko Pejović (19 July 2017), "Zaraslu stazu iz turskog doba uredili volonteri iz sveta" [Volunteers from all over the world arranged the overgrown path from the Turkish period], Politika (in Serbian), p. 22 
  7. ^ Branko Pejović (3 October 2017), "EU nagrada za užičku stazu "ćirinom" prugom" [EU award for the Užice's path along the railway], Politika (in Serbian) 
  8. ^ The 8th European Greenways Awards have been given, 28 September 2017
  9. ^ Branko Pejović (25 July 2018). "Uređuju banjo koja smiruje živce" [The spa which calms the nerves is being adapted]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 20. 
  10. ^ Branko Pejović (8 August 2017), "Počela obnova užićke tvrđave" [Reconstruction of the Užice fortress began], Politika (in Serbian) 
  11. ^ Branko Pejović (15 August 2017), "Nenaučena lekcija stara 117 godina" [117 years old but not learned lession], Politika (in Serbian), p. 22 
  12. ^ a b "Obnova Teslinog prvenca na Đetinji" [Reconstruction of Tesla's "firstborn" on the Đetinja] (in Serbian). Politika. 9 April 2017. 
  13. ^ a b Branko Pejović (8 May 2018). "Podmlađivanje centrale na Đetinji stare devet decenija" [Rejuvenation of the 9 decades old power plant on the Đetinja]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 09. 


  • Mala Prosvetina Enciklopedija, Third edition (1985); Prosveta; ISBN 86-07-00001-2
  • Jovan Đ. Marković (1990): Enciklopedijski geografski leksikon Jugoslavije; Svjetlost-Sarajevo; ISBN 86-01-02651-6

External links[edit]