Every 15th February, Serbia celebrates Statehood Day! The festivity commemorates the Serbian uprising of 1804, which would lead to recognition of Serbia’s Statehood from the Ottoman Empire. Here are some ten curious facts you might not know about Serbia!
1 – Serbia has been topping the global raspberry export list for several years now, accounting for over 30% of the world’s raspberries.
2 – Seventeen Roman emperors originally came from territories that are now part of modern Serbia – the highest number of Roman rulers born outside of the Italian peninsula. The most important and well-known of these emperors was Constantine the Great, who was born in present-day Niš, a city in the south of Serbia.
3 – The Serbian language uses both the Cyrillic and the Latin alphabet at the same time, which are respectively known as Azbuka and Abeceda. This grammatical occurrence is termed digraphia, and Serbian is the only European language to currently use this method of alphabet melding.
4 –During the first satellite broadcast signal from Europe to North America in 1963, a Serbian fresco by the name of White Angel was chosen as the message, symbolising peace and civilisation. This is a detail of one of the most famous frescoes in Serbian history, Myrrhbearers on Christ’s Grave, which can be found in the Mileševa monastery. This same image was later sent to space in an attempt to establish contact with extraterrestrial life, with no success.
5 – The Belgrade Fortress, the core and the oldest section of the urban area of Belgrade, has been at the centre of over 100 battles for its control. The citadel has been destroyed and rebuilt over 40 times throughout the centuries. Much of what stands today is the product of 18th-century Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman reconstructions.
6 – Milunka Savić was a Serbian war heroine who fought in the Balkan Wars and in World War I. After her brother was called for mobilization, she chose to cut her hair and don men’s clothes in order to join the army in his place. She managed to rise to the rank of corporal before the truth about her was discovered, and is thought to be the the most-decorated female combatant in the entire history of warfare.
7 – Serbia has great business relations with Japan, to the point where the two countries have donated millions to each other in times of need. Since 1999, Japan has given assistance for the value of more than 500 million euros to the Serbian population, mainly for the development of the private sector and environmental protection, as well as healthcare and education.
8 – Ever since 2013, Serbia has observer status in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Russian counterpart to NATO.
9 – There is a tower made of skulls in Niš, Serbia. Skull Tower was constructed during the First Serbian Uprising, after Serbian rebels were attacked by the Ottomans on Čegar Hill, near Niš. Knowing that they would be impaled if captured, they detonated a powder magazine within the rebel entrenchment, killing themselves and the encroaching Ottoman soldiers. The Ottoman Vizier Hurshid Pasha ordered that a tower be made from the skulls of the perished rebels. The tower is 4.5 metres high, and originally contained 952 skulls embedded on four sides in 14 rows, although only 54 skulls remain today.
10 – Serbia is the world’s second largest producer of plums, second only to China.