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Feature 31 Oct 17

Serbia's Spookiest Spots Await Halloween Daredevils

If the traffic jams in Belgrade are not enough to scare you this Halloween, head out to these five haunted places in Serbia instead.

Srdjan Garcevic

This strange rock formation in southern Serbia may be on many tourist brochures but its spooky history is less well known. Photo: Wikiepdia/Dzimi37

Sava Savanovic’s mill, Zarozje

Given that "vampire" is one of the few Serbian words that made it internationally, it is only fitting to start this list with the mill where the most famous Serbian vampire used to feast on unfortunate locals.

The mill is located three hours from Belgrade, between Valjevo and Bajina Basta, in the tiny village of Zarozje. Spookily decrepit, it became famous after the publication of a short story by the 19th Century writer Milovan Glisic about Sava Savanovic, a merchant-turned-vampire who chose it for his home. In 1973, the story was adapted into the cringe-worthy Serbian horror film "Leptirica" ["She-Butterfly"] and the village gained even wider fame.

When the roof of the mill collapsed in 2012, the local authorities issued a joke warning that Sava the Vampire was on the prowl, so guard your neck if you come to visit.

The Homolje mountains, eastern Serbia

The mountains around the towns of Bor and Zajecar in eastern Serbia have long been considered the centre of magical activity in the country. This is because of the large population of Serbian Vlachs, a people closely related to Romanians, who have maintained many traditional customs, some of which date back to pre-Christian times.

The Vlachs are famous for elaborate funerals and celebrations of the dead, which inspired outlandish stories about posthumous marriages, dancing on graves, and even exhumation of corpses.

These rituals gave rise to the myth of "Vlach magic", a mainstay of Serbian tabloids, said to be practiced by crones in the Homolje mountains.

One of the most feared and written about hexes in the Homolje is "tying up" ["vezivanje"], which makes a man or a woman incapable of love-making. Although it is most often jealous lovers who use these spells, do try to be nice to the locals when you go for a hike, to avoid any magical troubles.

Devil’s town, Kursumlija

This strange rock formation in southern Serbia may be on many tourist brochures but its spooky history is less well known.

The legend has it that these weird rocks are actually petrified remains of a cursed wedding party. These poor souls drank from a nearby spring, which attracted the attention of the Devil himself who decided to cloud their minds and make them try to force a brother and sister into a marriage. Once the word got to a local fairy, she decided to interfere and turned them all into stone. The locals still insist that the area is haunted by the Devil and refuse to spend a night there, so don’t overstay your welcome.

Trajan’s town, Cer mountain

About an hour’s drive from Belgrade, in the middle of a forest on Cer mountain, are the remains of an ancient fortress, which is said to be the home of a much-feared mythological creature: Tsar Trajan, a sun-fearing three-headed demon with goat’s ears.

In the middle of a forest on Cer Mountain, there are remains of an ancient fortress, which is said to be the home of Tsar Trajan. Photo: Wikipedia/Sasa Dragojevic





















This unusual appearance did not stop Trajan from being a bit of ladies’ man. In his heyday, every night he rode out of the forest to seduce maidens from nearby villages. One night, the villagers, annoyed by his trysts, decided to cut out tongues from all the roosters so that Trajan could not return home before sunrise, which eventually led to his demise.

Although Trajan seems to have been out of the game for centuries, do try to avoid the advances of any three-headed gentlemen you might pass on your way.

Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad

Best known as the venue of the Exit music festival, Petrovaradin Fortress in 2010 caught the eye of a team of paranormal explorers, Ghost Hunters International. They devoted a whole episode of their TV show trying to hunt down its many spectres. 

Built between 1692 and 1780, the fortress was one of the most advanced in the Habsburg lands and served to protect it from Ottoman attacks. To increase its security, it was fitted with all sorts of secret passages including a 16-kilometre network of subterranean tunnels.

According to paranormal experts, souls of soldiers who died during battles at Petrovaradin walk around this labyrinth below the fortress, most which is currently closed to public. If this is not spooky enough, one of the corridors, marked with a Maltese cross, is allegedly the place where local Satanists perform sacrifices, so be careful where you wander while exploring Petrovaradin.

 Halloween Parties in Belgrade:

 31 October, Halloween Fancy Dress Party, Vrtoglavica Subculture World

4 November, Halloween X - The Night of The Walking Dead, Hangar

This article was published in BIRN's bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight. Here is where to find a copy.



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