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The river Jelašnica runs through Jelašnička Gorge.
The name of the river and the gorge comes from the village Jelašnica.
The gorge is situated 15 kilometres east from Niš, and only 5 kilometres from Niška Banja. Its total length is 2 kilometres.
The gorge is a natural jewel and is considered one of the most beautiful and romantic places in southeast Serbia.
The village of Jelašnica, where one enters the gorge, was first mentioned in a 1498 manuscript. Numerous archeological excavations testify that this was a Neolithic mining settlement. In the Roman times, there was a military road nearby the so – called Via militaris.
In the gorge proper there were some strategic fortifications, some of which were even embedded in the rocks. Their remains are visible today, too.
In the gorge one finds dolomite columns ( Inatovac and Zdravački ) , jogged stone teeth ( Čukljenički ) and dwarf beams ( Čuči rock ) . Erosional and denudational forms are also present such as stone windows ( Jelašnički and Čukljenički ) , which stand among the biggest such rocky shapes in Serbia.
The gorge abounds in natural beauties, such as waterfalls, the most attractive of which is Ripaljka. There is also a variety of rare plant and animal life. Sixty five endemic and subendemic species have been registered. Among them, the most precious ones are Ramonda Serbica and Ramonda Nathaliae, which managed to survive the last Ice Age.
Today, one finds the remnants of the churches of St. Elijah and St. Archangel Michael in the gorge, too.
The ideal terrain in the gorge has provided all necessary preconditions for the construction of the natural rock climbing site. This is the venue of mountaineering and alpinism. There are over 40 paths for athletic climbing ( in accordance with the standard of UIAA International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation ) , where the rock hosts fully attested equipment.