Serbia and Skulls

I set my alarm for 7:30am. I was quickly up and dressed to go to the skull tower before check-out. I found a bakery and bought a sandwich to have for breakfast on the river. I ate half and saved the rest.

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I made it to the tower just before 9 and waited but no-one came to open the ticket booth. The archaeological park was supposed to be 2km down the road I thought I’d walk there and then to the tower on my way back. I walked and walked and walked much farther than 2km but never found the archaeological park. I went back to the skull tower and it was open.

The Skull Tower was built during in 1809 after the First Serbian Uprising. Serbs rose against the Ottoman Empire under the leadership of Stevan Sindelic. They were attacked by a Turkish force 36,000 strong. The Turks quickly overcame the Serbs but rather then surrendering Stevan fired his pistol into a keg of gunpowder. The resulting explosion killed all of the Serbs and many of the Turks that had overwhelmed the camp.

Afterward, Hurshid Pasha, angry at the Serbs for rising up, ordered that a tower be made from the skulls of the killed Serbian revolutionaries. The tower originally contained 954 skulls embedded on four sides in fourteen rows. It was to be a reminder of what happened when people stood against the Ottoman Empire. It failed to do that and in 1830 the Serbians successfully gained independence.

The tower is now housed in a small church that was built around it to protect it. The tower was originally 15 feet tall, as it is now is 10 feet tall and less than 100 of the original 900 skulls remain. It was a little disappointing after what I had in-visioned.

I took the bus to the Concentration Camp to save time. The lady working there gave a little walking tour.It was such a sad place. It wasn’t a labour camp or a death camp but it was still a horrible place. People crowded together into small rooms or housed individually on the top floor where it was too hot or too cold all the time. If they really hated you they put barbed wire frames on your floor. After a few weeks you were moved to one of the other camps depending on what your fate was to be. In the mass rooms on the ground floor people wrote on the walls or scratched into them names and dates along with messages. They knew that they wold likely die at the hands of the Nazis.

After I walked about to the hostel to check out and get my stuff. Then it was off to get the bus to Belgrade. The bus took a few hours and I looked for a hostel. I passed about 6 but they were all shut down. I finally found one that was open and took a bed in a 10 person dorm. There were only 3 other people in there, a family of Serbs (I think).

I wandered around Belgrade to get to the fortress. I made it to the river and had a burrito for dinner. The amazing part was the extra guacamole was 50 dinara or 60 cents (Canadian), way less than what you pay to add guac at home. I walked along the river looking for a way up to the fortress. It took awhile but I made it to the back of the fortress and found a path up. Along the way I kept my eyes open for amazing street art.

Along the river there is a cycle path that goes all the way along the Danube river and through Serbia. It’s roughly 660km long. It was a nicely marked path through the city, not sure what it’s like outside the city. It would be interesting to go back one day and cycle it.

The Belgrade fortress is huge and houses the zoo, military museum, dino park, summer stage, and some courts for tennis and basketball. There are many different places to explore and you could walk around for hours and not discover all the twists and turns.

I walked back to Republic Square. I found a pedestrian street with all sorts of souvenirs but didn’t buy any because my bags are heavy enough already. Also I have lots of things from the Middle East and other trips I took.

I went to the train station to see about what time the train to Bar was in the morning (9:10am). I made it back to the hostel and used the internet for a bit. Then the shower was free. When I got out the internet no longer worked and said I had the wrong password, it didn’t work for the rest of my stay there 😦 .

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