Lake Piva – Artificiality At Its Most Natural

Lake Piva – Artificiality At Its Most Natural

Deep into the northwest of Montenegro lies a lake like no other in the world. Intriguing and fascinating stories that describe the birth and existence of lake Piva are most certainly some of the best I’ve ever heard. Treasures at the bottom of the lake and the beauty on its surface are features that will hardly leave anyone indifferent. Especially when you visit it for the first time.

The birth of Lake Piva

The story began not so long ago. In the 1960s, the government of Yugoslavia decided to form an artificial lake for the purpose of increasing the hydroelectric potential of the country. They chose to use the deep canyon of the Piva river as an inlet for the future lake. In 1968, the government started building the dam 220 meters high, in order to create the lake. The dam, one of the highest in the world, was built and ready for use in 1975. That year, the landscapes of northwestern Montenegro were drastically reshaped and changed forever. 

Lake Piva covers 4.8 square miles of space with an extraordinary maximum length of 28 miles. Some of that space was earlier occupied by a small city of Plužine and monumental monastery of Piva which was shifted in its entirety to a new location. The team that was hired to shift the monastery was so skilled and thorough, that they succeded to relocate the whole structure without changing the appearance of the monastery for even one bit. 

As for the city of Plužine, it was completely destroyed and evacuated before the lake was created. However, when the water level is low, some of the city ruins elevate to the surface and they can be seen from the lake cruisers which are in business throughout the whole year. While the old city of Plužine lies on the bottom of the lake, the new city was built on higher ground, just above the lake shores. The locals were provided with new homes and the commercial potential of the lake made the new city of Plužine one of the wealthiest in the whole country.

Teleportation to the Lake Piva

The first time I saw this beautiful lake, I was traveling to Bosnia with my family. The lake is just below the road and for 28 miles, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Every time we entered a tunnel, I was a bit frustrated because of that brief interruption. At the end of the lake, there is a big bridge on the top of the dam, where you can look 700 feet below and see the bottom of the canyon. On the other side of the bridge, lake Piva is just 30 feet away. Such an obvious contrast shocked me as I wasn’t even remotely aware of the lake depth, which is almost 700 feet deep. 

I was astonished by the landscapes of the lake, by its size and by pretty much everything else. All I wanted at that moment was to cruise through the lake and enjoy the peace it offers. Soon I learned that was quite possible. Cruisers are on the lake throughout the whole year, and they are utilized the most in the summer. Many tourists come here to get away from the summer heat, but also to get much-needed refreshment. During the summer months, the temperature of the lake is quite pleasant for swimming and relaxation, and the lake is a piece of heaven for fishermen. There is life here in abundance, and fishing is allowed in all parts of the lake. 

So if you’re a fan of chilling out and breathtaking landscapes, you should definitely visit lake Piva for a few days at least, and you will leave with your batteries charged and your mind refreshed. While you’re there you could also visit the Piva monastery. It’s just 5 miles away from Plužine, and it’s situated in the small basin surrounded by dense forest. Also, just about an hour of drive from Plužine, there are many rafting camps by the Tara river, just in case of lack of excitement. Finally, if you’re up for some climbing tours, the huge and beautiful mountain of Durmitor is just 18 miles away by the city of Žabljak.


Lake Piva is the most elevated artificial lake in the world, standing at 2215 (675 meters) feet above sea level.

Lake Piva is an artificial lake, but it has exceptionally clean water. In fact, if you wanted to find a lake with the safest water to drink within the entire Balkan peninsula, it would be Lake Piva. Imagine that.

The deepest points of Lake Piva haven’t been explored since the lake was created. The water is very murky down there, and the divers are not allowed to descend all the way down due to possible risks.

Lake Piva is also literally 5 miles away from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Just in case you ever find yourself in Bosina and suddenly get a wish to visit a very large artificial lake.

An interesting archaeological location, the Olmut cave, was forever lost when the lake was created. It now resides somewhere within the depths of Lake Piva, inaccessible for further research. The cave contained artifacts from the times of Neolith. 

For some awesome photos, check the gallery below.

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