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On May 31, 1809 on Čegar hill, a few kilometers northeast of Niš, Serbian insurrectionists suffered their greatest defeat in the First Serbian Uprising against the Turks (1804-1813). The insurrectionists' advance towards Niš was stopped here and, when the far stronger Turkish forces attacked, the fierce battle was ended by a self-sacrificing act of one of the Serbian commanders, Stevan Sinđelić, who fired at his gunpowder depot in order not to surrender to the Turks, killing himself, the rest of his 3,000 crew and aproximately 10,000 advancing Turks.

After retreat of the Serb rebel army, the Turkish commander of Niš, Hurshid Pasha, ordered that the heads of the killed Serbians were to be mounted on a tower that was to serve as a warning to any other would-be revolutionaries. In all, 952 skulls were included, with the skull of Stevan Sindjelić placed at the top. The scalps from the skulls were stuffed with cotton and sent Istanbul as a proof for the sultan himself. The tower stood in the open air up to 1878, when Niš was finally liberated. By that time, much of the tower had deteriorated from weather conditions or from the relatives of killed insurrectionists who were removing the skulls in order to bury them. In 1892, with the donations gathered all over Serbia, a graceful chapel designed by Belgrade architect Dimitrije T. Leko was built to enclose what was left of the tower. Today, only 58 skulls remain, and Sindjelić's skull is also saved. Serbia has suggested that Skull Tower should be included on the UNESCO world heritage list.

(from wikipedia.org, where I contributed making up this text :)

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Additional Photos by Marko Petrovic (mpetrovic) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 201 W: 75 N: 286] (1536)
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