In the vicinity of Nis, on Cegar hill, the location of the famous First Serbian Uprising battle, there is a monument put up in memory of the courageous soldiers and their commander Stevan Sindjelic. After the battle on Cegar the Ottomans built a Skull Tower from skulls of a parished soldiers.
Cegar hill, 6 km from the city centre
At the place where the trench of Stevan Sindjelic and his soldiers was located, a monument was erected in the shape of a tower – a symbol of the military fortification (1927). The designer of the monument was Djulijan Djupon, a Russian immigrant from Nis, and a bronze bust of Stevan Sindjelic, which is placed in the tower, was made by Yugoslavian sculptor Slavko Miletic. Today, this monument symbolizes the heroism of Stevan Sinđelić and evokes the memory of the fearless fight for freedom.
The story about the Battle on Cegar Hill
After more than 400 years under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Serbian people began to gather and organize an uprising (1804-1813). The liberation of Nis, as a strategically important location, was one of the main goals of the uprising. In spring 1809, around 16.000 Serbian soldiers approached Nis and prepared tactics for the attack. Voivoda Stevan Sindjelic with his 4.000 rebels chose the most prominent point at the Cegar hill, 6 km from Nis.
Ottomans attacked the positions at the Cegar hill on May 31, 1809. The battle lasted the entire day, and the twice as many and better armed Ottomans did not succeed to crush the resistance of the Serbs until dusk. At the end of the day, military commander Hurshid Pasha sent new 4.000 soldiers to Cegar. After that, the Ottoman soldiers were so densely packed that the Serbian soldiers could not use either flintlocks or swords – the only weapons were their teeth.
Heroic act of Voivoda Stevan Sindjelic
Realizing that they stood no chance against such a large power, Sindjelic gave the order for the gunpowder magazine to be prepared. He gathered his fellow soldiers and released them from the rebels vow, giving them choice to leave Cegar. Not a single insurgent left him, they remained with him to defend the Serbian honor together. Before the sunset, Sindjelic performs a heroic deed – he let as many Ottoman soldiers as possible to gather around him took out his flintlock, fired in the gunpowder magazine and the entire fort, a large number of enemy soldiers, his fellow soldiers and he were blown to pieces. The explosion marked the end of the unequal fight.