Serbia Fun Facts

January 23, 2024

Paul Kay


Have you been to Serbia? Is it on your list of vacation destinations? The native language of Serbia is the only European language written in both the Cyrillic and Latin scripts. While both scripts are officially used, Cyrillic is more commonly used, especially in official documents. Did you know that Serbia has something to say about vampires? If you’ve read our post on Romania, you’d know that they have a history with vampires. However, the word “vampire” originated from the Serbian word “vampir.” Serbian folklore includes tales of vampires, and one of the earliest accounts of a vampire is the legend of Petar Blagojevic, a Serbian peasant who was believed to have become a vampire after his death in the 18th century. They also have a local hero in Nikola Tesla. He was a very famous inventor and engineer who went head-to-head with Thomas Edison. Tesla was born to Serbian parents in the village of Smiljan, in modern-day Croatia, which was part of the Austrian Empire during his time. There is a good movie about Tesla with Ethan Hawke in the starring role. Let’s get into some more fun facts and history about Serbia.

Serbia has a complex and diverse history that spans several millennia. The earliest known human settlements in the region date back to the Neolithic era, with the discovery of artifacts and remains in various parts of the country.

The Neolithic era, also known as the “New Stone Age,” was a time in human history characterized by the development of agriculture and the domestication of animals. It began around 10,000 BCE in the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East and spread to other parts of the world over the course of several millennia. The Neolithic period is considered the last phase of the Stone Age and preceded the Bronze Age.

During this era, people transitioned from a nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a settled, agricultural way of life. This led to the development of permanent settlements, the emergence of complex societies, and the rise of crafts such as pottery and textile production. Additionally, the Neolithic period saw the invention of new tools and weapons, such as the plow and the sickle, which allowed for more efficient farming and food production.

Stonehenge an ancient prehistoric stone monument near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK. It was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Stonehenge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in England

The Neolithic period also saw the development of religious and spiritual beliefs, as well as the construction of monumental architecture, such as Stonehenge and the great pyramids of Egypt. Overall, the Neolithic era was a time of significant technological, social, and cultural development that laid the foundations for the civilizations that followed.

In the 4th century BC, the Celts migrated to the region and established settlements. They were followed by the Illyrians who were a group of tribes that inhabited the western Balkans during ancient times. They were present in the area from around the 12th century BCE up until the Roman conquest in the 2nd century BCE. The Illyrians spoke a variety of Indo-European languages and had a rich culture and history. They were divided into different tribes and kingdoms, each with its own distinct customs and traditions.

The Illyrians were primarily known as farmers, herders, and fishermen. They also engaged in trade and commerce with their neighbors and had a strong tradition of metalworking and craftsmanship. They were considered fierce warriors and were known to engage in frequent conflicts with their neighbors, such as the Greeks and the Romans.

Bardylis of the Illyrian Kingdom

The Illyrian kingdom reached its height during the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE, under the leadership of King Bardylis and his son, King Bardylis II, who expanded the kingdom’s territory through military conquests. The Illyrians were prominent in the region until the Roman conquest in the 1st century AD. The Romans brought their culture and way of life to the region, and many Roman ruins can still be found in Serbia today.

In the 4th century AD, the region was conquered by the Goths, and later by the Huns, the Ostrogoths, and the Gepids. The Slavs migrated to the region in the 6th and 7th centuries AD and established settlements, which laid the foundation for the modern Serbian nation.

Mosaic of Saint Sava Serbian a Serbian prince and Orthodox monk from the Nemanjic dynasty. Photo from Celije monastery near Valjevo Serbia

The medieval period of Serbian history is marked by the rise of the Nemanjic dynasty in the 12th century AD. Under the rule of the Nemanjics, Serbia became a powerful medieval state, and the dynasty left a significant cultural and architectural legacy. The most notable achievement of the Nemanjic era was the creation of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the development of the Serbian language and literature.

The above photo is of Saint Sava of Serbia who was a Serbian prince and Orthodox monk who lived in the 12th and 13th centuries. He is considered the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church and is one of the most important figures in Serbian history. Sava was born Rastko Nemanjic, the youngest son of the Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja. He was sent to the Holy Land by his father to become a monk, where he took the monastic name Sava. After spending several years studying and living as a monk, he returned to Serbia in 1219 and played a key role in the establishment of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which was independent from the Byzantine Empire.

Sava also played an important role in the political and cultural development of medieval Serbia. He worked to establish a strong, centralized state and helped to spread education and literature throughout the country. He also helped to establish the first Serbian law code, the Zakonopravilo, which is still used as a legal text in the Serbian Orthodox Church today. Sava is considered a patron saint of Serbia and is widely respected and venerated by the Serbian Orthodox Church.

In the 14th century, the Ottoman Empire began its expansion in the Balkans, and by the 15th century, Serbia was under Ottoman rule. The Ottomans brought their culture and way of life to the region, and many Ottoman ruins can still be found in Serbia today. The period of Ottoman rule was marked by resistance and rebellion by the Serbs, and many uprisings took place.

Osman I of The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was a powerful state that existed for over 600 years, from the late 13th century to the early 20th century. It was founded by Osman I, a Turkish warrior and ruler, who established a small state in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) and expanded it through military conquests. Under the Ottoman dynasty, the empire expanded to include parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.

Sultan Mehmed II of The Ottoman Empire

During its early years, the Ottoman Empire was a small state that was constantly threatened by its larger and more powerful neighbors. However, under the rule of Mehmed II, also known as Mehmed the Conqueror, the Ottomans were able to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in 1453. This marked the beginning of the empire’s expansion into Europe, and it continued to gain territory throughout the 15th and 16th centuries.

Suleiman The Magnificent of The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire reached its peak during the 16th and 17th centuries, under the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent. The empire was at its largest and most powerful during this time, and it controlled a vast territory that included modern-day Turkey, Greece, Egypt, much of the Middle East, parts of Eastern Europe, and parts of North Africa.

The empire was known for its military power, and the Ottoman army was considered one of the most formidable in the world during the 16th and 17th centuries. However, the empire’s military power began to decline in the 18th century, and it was unable to match the technological advancements of Europe.

The Ottoman Empire was also known for its sophisticated culture and art. The empire was a melting pot of different cultures, and it produced a rich tradition of literature, music, and architecture. The Ottomans also made significant contributions to the fields of science and medicine, and they had a strong tradition of scholarship and education.

In the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire began to decline, and it was unable to modernize and reform as quickly as the other European powers. Nationalism also began to rise among the empire’s various ethnic groups, and the empire’s territories began to break away. By the early 20th century, the empire was in a state of decline, and it was ultimately dissolved following World War I.

The Ottoman Empire left a lasting legacy in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. The empire’s territories form the majority of the modern-day Middle Eastern countries, and its influence can still be seen in the culture, architecture, and politics of these countries. The empire’s legacy can also be found in the form of the Turkish language, which is spoken by over 80 million people worldwide.

Dorde Petrovic – Karadorde, a portrait from old Yugoslavian money

In the 19th century, the idea of a united Serbia began to gain momentum, and in 1804, the First Serbian Uprising was launched, led by Karadorde Petrovic. The uprising was followed by the Second Serbian Uprising in 1815, which resulted in the autonomy of Serbia within the Ottoman Empire.

In 1878, following the Russo-Turkish War, Serbia became an independent state, and in 1882, it was declared a kingdom. Serbia rapidly developed its economy and infrastructure, and in 1914, it became involved in World War I on the side of the Allies. After the war, Serbia became part of the newly formed Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later renamed Yugoslavia.

During World War II, Serbia was occupied by the Axis powers, and many Serbs were killed or sent to concentration camps. After the war, Serbia became one of the six republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, led by Marshal Josip Broz Tito.

In the late 1980s, Yugoslavia began to unravel, and in 1992, Serbia became an independent state again after the collapse of Yugoslavia. In the 1990s, Serbia was involved in the Yugoslav Wars.

Slobodan Milosevic Yugoslavia

Slobodan Milosevic was the President of Serbia from 1989 to 1997 and later President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1997 to 2000. He played a significant role in the Yugoslav Wars, particularly in the Bosnian War and the Kosovo War, and was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 2001, he was arrested and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, where he faced trial on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. He died in 2006 while his trial was still ongoing. The Yugoslav wars resulted in the separation of Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro from Yugoslavia.

Since 2000, Serbia has been working towards integration into the European Union and has made significant progress in the areas of democracy and human rights. Today, Serbia is a parliamentary republic with a diversified economy and a growing tourism industry.

Throughout its history, Serbia has been shaped by the diverse influences of the various cultures that have inhabited the region. From the Celts and Romans to the Slavs and Ottomans, all have left their mark on the country. The result is a unique blend of art, architecture, music, and cuisine that reflects the rich heritage of Serbia.

It’s a beautiful country with an impressive amount of history. It’s time to add it to your GoGo list.

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