Serbia: Nis – Skull Tower

This is one of the most bizarre historical attractions I’ve seen. In the southern Serbian town of Nis (a UNESCO city), there is a 15ft high tower with human skulls embedded in it (originally it was 952 skulls but only 58 remain). The story goes like this: in 1807 during the battle of Cegar, about a 1000 Serbian pro-independence rebels were surrounded by an overwhelmingly larger Ottoman Turkish forces. Rather then surrender, the Serbian leader blew up the gunpowder cache killing every single of his fellow rebels, himself and some Turks. The Ottoman vizier of Nis then ordered all the skulls collected, cleaned, skinned, stuffed, and sent to Pasha as a symbol of his victory. After some travels, the skulls all got sent back to Nis (“return to sender I guess”), and the vizier then ordered the construction of a tower with all the skulls embedded in it to intimidate and strike fear into the would be revels. This however backfired and only helped foster anti-Ottoman rebellion and the Turks withdrew from Nis, but disassembled the tower before that. With Serbian rebels in control, they sought to find all the skulls and rebuilt the tower as a symbol of Serbian independence. It now stand as a national monument, housed in an enclosed building within glass walls.