Saturday, September 10, 2011
Updated on MFS - Strange But True - Places 18
The Skull tower of Niš
Nišis the second largest city in Serbia and one of the oldest in the Balkans. Situated right between the East and the West it’s had a turbulent history involving numerous occupations and battles. For example in 1385 the Turks seized it after a siege lasting nearly a month.
Though the Turks suffered very heavy losses they nevertheless defeated the Serbs. The brutal Turkish commander at Niš, Hursid Pasha, then set about decapitating hundreds of those killed, whereupon he took about a thousand Serbian skulls and had them mounted on a tower with the skull of Stevan Sinđelić placed on top. The scalps from the skulls were stuffed with cotton and sent to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) as proof for Sultan Mahmud II.
Hursid Pasha’s uniquely gruesome edifice is still standing. Though only 58 skulls remain, much of the Skull Tower has still been preserved thanks to a chapel built to enclose it. Today, however, it serves not as a threat, but as a monument commemorating the battle, a sort of shrine to the value of independence and the real price that some have had to pay.
"My eyes and my heart greeted the remains of those brave men whose cut-off heads made the cornerstone of the independence of their homeland. May the Serbs keep this monument! It will always teach their children the value of the independence of a people, showing them the real price their fathers had to pay for it." - Alphonse de Lamartine, Journey to the East, 1833
Read and see more on MFS, with 1 videoclip.