Is There Quiche in Niš?
On to country number 16! Although we were only in Serbia for a couple of days, it was interesting to experience the culture in another of the former republics of Yugoslavia. Niš (pronounced “Nish”) is in the southern part of Serbia and was a convenient and interesting stopping place as we continued making our way south to Greece.
As we drove from Kolašin to Niš we were careful not to stray into Kosovo since it is one of two (along with Albania) European countries that is not covered by our auto insurance. Skirting the Kosovo border, we noticed an increasing number of mosques in the towns and villages that we passed. It was a good visual reminder of the ethnic variety in this region.
Niš was the birth place of emperor Constantine and as we walked along the Nišava river we found this relatively recent monument commemorating the anniversary of his birth.
The central walking area in town had a few other interesting monuments. We also found some yummy food and enjoyed people watching.
The Skull Tower is one of Niš’ most famous landmarks. The story of the tower goes back to the early 19th century, when a Serbian rebel force fell against the numerically superior Ottoman occupiers. As the battle raged, the Serbs realized they would be defeated so they decided to blow up their powder magazine, killing themselves and a great number of the Ottoman fighters.
Following the battle, the Ottoman ruler ordered that the skulls of the rebels be used to create a tower as a warning to other insurgents. However, over time the tower had the opposite effect, stoking Serbian nationalism. Today the tower is enclosed in a chapel.
We parents found the tower quite interesting but the kids were understandably rather creeped out so they did not linger long near the tower.
Across the river from the main pedestrian area, the Niš Fortress is a landmark that is hard to miss. As with may places we have visited, there has been a fortification on this location since Roman times. This particular iteration dates to the Ottomans in the 18th century.
After entering through the main gate, we found the area more like a park setting than a traditional fortress.
Bubanj Memorial Park
As we continue to learn more about the detailed history of the areas we visit, we found the Bubanj Memorial Park particularly intriguing. The park is a memorial complex built to commemorate the killing of 10,000 citizens of Niš in World War II. A main feature of the park is three concrete sculptures that symbolize raised hands with clenched fists, each depicting men’s, women’s and children’s hands that defy the enemy.
So, is there quiche in Niš? We didn’t find any, but admittedly we didn’t really look that hard. Despite the possible dearth of quiche we found Niš to be an interesting city for a short visit. If we pass through again, we’ll be sure to go see Medijana, an archaeological site from Roman times (unfortunately it was closed during our visit).
In our next update, we press eastward into Bulgaria!