Monday, August 2, 2010

Nis Fortress, Serbia

In both Serbian and international political plans, the liberation of Nis in the First Serbian Uprising (1804–1813) was a major event in the restoration of the Serbian state. The decisive battle between the Serbs and the Turks took place on 31st May 1809, in the vicinity of Nis, near the village of Kamenica, on a hill known as Cegar, where the Serbian positions were most exposed. Unable to halt the Turkish attack, the Serbian military leader Stevan Sindjelic fired a number of shots into the powder magazine and caused an explosion which killed numerous soldiers on both sides. Unofficial data claim that between 3000 and 7000 Serbs and over 6000 Turks were killed on Cegar. Serbian losses were tremendous, so Cegar today has a special position in the history of the struggle for liberation and independence. Today’s tower-shaped monument was erected in 1927 – it symbolizes a military fortification and is protected by the state as part of the cultural heritage.
Nis Fortress was built in the period 1719-1723 on the right bank of the Nisava River, over the remains of ancient and medieval fortifications, after such decree was issued by the Sultan on 19th February 1719, and the project made by the main architects Mehmed and Mustafa Aga. Like other artillery fortifications, the fortress has a polygonal foundation and four major gates (labeled the gates of Istanbul, Belgrade, Jagodina and Vidin) and eight bastion terraces. With its ramparts totaling 2100m in length, 3m wide and 8m high, covering the area of 22 hectares, the Fortress was the strongest Turkish fortification in borderline areas of the empire. Today’s remnants of the rampart and the gates, along with still unexplored internal parts coming from the previous periods, represent a major cultural monument. For this reason, in 1948, Nis Fortress was protected by the law, and in 1979 it was proclaimed highly valued part of cultural heritage.
Just by the road to Constantinople, today in the city itself, there lies the Skull Tower – a unique monument from Serbian liberation wars. In his desire to intimidate Christians and prevent any further rebellious attempts, Hursid Pasha, then the Turkish commander in Nis, and later the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, issued an order for this tower to be built. The skulls of 952 Serbian fighters from the battle of Cegar, of 31st May 1809, were built in. there are no written Turkish sources on the construction of the tower and the number of skulls. The Europe and the world got to know more about it from the words of travel book writers passing through Nis in 19th century.

1 comment:

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