The Skull Tower (Ćele Kula) is a monument unique in the world, visited by more than 30.000 people each year. It is the tower made of human skulls, built after the battle for liberation of Nis in 1809. This horrific monument was built as a warning to anyone rising against the Ottoman Empire. Originaly there were 952 skulls built into the tower , today there are 59 skulls remain and they still illustrate all the horror of the original tower.
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The story about Skull Tower
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 Niš, as a strategically important location, was one of the main goals of the uprising. One of the first battles took place at Cegar Hill, 6 km from Nis.
Although the Ottomans defeated the insurgents on Cegar Hill, they were revolted with the way the Serbian insurgents finished the battle, as well as with the fact that much greater number of Ottoman soldiers got killed in this fight.
Ottoman commander of the city, Hurshid Pasha, ordered his soldiers to cut off the heads of the Serbian soldiers fallen at Cegar and to bring them to Nis. Then they gathered all skinners from the city and ordered them, under threat of death, to skin the heads of all the Serbian soldiers. The skins were filled with straw and sent to the sultan in Constantinople, and the Turks started to build the tower out of the skulls.
The construction of the tower lasted for several days. They had to build in 17 skulls in fourteen rows on the four sides of the tower, 952 skulls in total. The anger and mercilessness of the Ottoman Pasha is shown in the fact that at the end of the construction, just in order to fill the last row, he ordered 30 Serbian captives to be killed, and their heads were built in the tower without skinning. The sight was terrifying, but the effect was the opposite of what was expected, and the Skull Tower has become a symbol of resistance and struggle for freedom.