The Tsarigrad Road (Bulgarian : Цариградски път, Serbo-Croatian : Carigradski drum / Цариградски друм, from Tsarigrad “City of the Caesar”, an old Slavic name of Istanbul), also called the Road to Istanbul, Imperial Road, Moravian Road, or Great Road, was one of the most important roads in the Middle Ages on the Balkan Peninsula; it linked Belgrade with Istanbul. Its forerunner was the Roman Via Militaris, and prior to that, still older pre-antique traffic that took place along this route. Many passed in both directions along what was to be the Tsarigrad Road: units, groups, and military formations came to pillage and kill (the Huns), or to defend (the Roman legions), or to conquer new frontiers (the Ottoman invasions). The mission of the brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia to Christianize the Slavs passed along the same road.
The foundations of the most significant Balkan communication line, the Tsarigrad Road, were laid in Roman times. The Romans made a network of solid roads across their entire empire, so that in 33CE the Via Militaris, too, was constructed, a military road that led from Singidunum (Belgrade), by the valley of the Margus (the river Great Morava), through Naissus(Niš) and Serdica (Sofia), to Asia Minor. The Roman road was 9 strides wide (6 meters), surfaced with large polygonal tiles or with sand, and ran in straight segments, with stone bridges and milestones. Along the way were stations for changing horses (mutatio) and staying overnight (mansio) arranged to be reachable from the last station by a day’s walking.
This route was the most natural and the shortest, but during the Byzantine and Slavic epochs it was generally abandoned and neglected, so that merchant caravans and delegations, for a series of centuries after the fall of the Roman state and before the arrival of the Turks in the area, used a route through Prva Kutina (formerly Banja Kutina), then through Radikina Bara, Koprivnica, and Jagličje, through Preslap (the snake meadow) beneath Mount Mosor, Veta, Toponica, Špaj, and Vrgudinac in the direction of modern Bela Palanka. Along the old antique route passed only larger military divisions or travelers and caravans that were defended by a larger armed escort.
This variant of the route leading to Istanbul was apparently discovered by the Turks at the end of the fifteenth century or the start of the sixteenth, and it led through Banja, Jelašnica, and Studen, and thereafter through Bancarevo, Glogovac, Popov Šah, Špaj, and Vrgudinac to modern Bela Palanka. The road was heavily damaged. The Turks repaired it for the use of their military forces, but this new road, filled in with gravel and small stones, was torturous and hard for traveling, especially because of mud. Many travel writers described the difficulty of extracting oneself from the mire on the Moravian Road. Besides military forces, caravans most frequently moved along the road, full of various wares, various official delegations, and the occasional world traveler. Travel was undertaken on foot, on horses, and in carriages, but it was extremely dangerous. From the dense forest hajduks prowled — especially dangerous were the ones found at Lipar by Jagodina and at Kunovica beyond Niš. The trip from Belgrade to Niš lasted 40 hours, not accounting for resting and sleeping.
On some of the more dangerous sections, some villages were tasked with guarding the passages (as the paramilitary derbenci, Serbo-Croatian : derbendžije). In some places small fortifications (stockades) were constructed, sometimes in convenient places, such as Niš, a caravanserai in which travelers could dismount. In some villages and places horses were exchanged or trade was conducted, etc. Among the natural obstacles on the road were the forests (which the Turks removed) and the hajduks (who are mentioned in the literature mostly as “bandits”).
On that basis, some villages were given a derbenci status (required to guard dangerous passages) or required to cut trees along the road. The tasks of repair and maintenance of the Tsarigrad Road were given to villages (which fulfilled these tasks shoddily), or, in times of military campaigns, to craftsmen and workers (who fulfilled them with better quality). Guided by the religious and practical needs of the Turks, they raised fountains or built wells by the roadside wherever it was convenient or necessary. On the road oxen, horses, carriages, occasionally chariots, and even camels were used for traffic. Besides oxen and horses, bison and mules were used, and as riding animals also donkeys. For their needs, travelers, merchants, military units, Tatars, and ulaks (couriers, news-bearers, postmen), foreign and Turkish delegations, state and religious missions, pilgrims and devşirme children, bearers of wares and money, etc., used the Tsarigrad Road.
In 1862, Midhat Pasha re-established the antique road through Kunovica on the plateau of Ploče (elevation 636m). The road further passed through the southwestern part of the Bela Palanka Basinto Bela Palanka, and thence through Ciganski Klanac, past Starčev Han, Kruš, and the Hajduk Fountain, through Šumje (known as Kurašnica) to Pirot. Midhat Pasha built up the road and fortified it with strong watchtowers. A partially straightened route was used in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries all the way until 1964, when a part of the old route was introduced in the Sićevo Gorge as the Nišavska Highway.
On the basis of projects that were made at the end of the twentieth century, a new highway with more lanes is intended to again return to Ploče.
The remnants of the Tsarigrad Road at the end of the twentieth century can be discerned here and there during archaeological work or accidentally. Information about it can be found in toponymy, in scant literature, in legends, and also in scientific research. Upon the construction of a railroadin 1884 in the Morava valley, the Tsarigrad Road lost its significance, and after the construction of a modern highway, it practically ceased to be used. Today only its remnants can be seen in some places, overgrown with woods or weeds.
While even Herodotus described navigation along the Istros (Danube), Brongos (West Morava), and the valleys of the Triballi, among the travelers who have left behind recent accountsof the Tsarigrad Road are Bertrandon de la Broquière in the fifteenth century, Evliya Çelebi in the seventeenth century, and further English travel writers in the nineteenth century.
Some of the stations on the Roman road were: Mutatio ad sextum (Mali Mokri Lug), Tricornium (Ritopek), Margum (Kulič, by Smederevo), Viminacium (Kostolac), Idimmum (Medveđa), Horreum Margi (Ćuprija), Praesidium Pompei (Bovan, by Aleksinac), Naissus (Niš), Remesiana (Bela Palanka), and Turres (Pirot).
In the time of the Ottoman Empire, lodgings (konaks) on the Tsarigrad Road from Sofia to Belgrade were arranged to be reachable from the last station by a day’s walking. In a list of the konaks from 1595/96, on the way from Sofia to Belgrade the following konaks are recorded, with the travel times between them: from Sofia to Slivnitsa 5 hours, to Caribor 6 hours, to Pirot 5 hours, to Bela Palanka 5 hours, to Niš 8 hours, to Aleksinac 6 hours, to Ražanj 3 hours, to Paraćin 6 hours, to Jagodina 4 hours, to Batočina 6 hours, to Hasan-Pašina Palanka (Smederevska Palanka) 6 hours, to Kolare 5 hours, by the bank of the Great Morava to Hisardžik (Grocka) 4 hours, and to Belgrade 4 hours — in total, 73 hours. The road from Ravna (Ćuprija) continued toward Sofia by the Roman route. Along this route today passes Highway E-80, the eastern end of the great Pan-European Corridor X, Branch C (Salzburg—Ljubljana—Zagreb—Belgrade—Niš—Sofia—Plovdiv—Edirne—Istanbul), which connects through Asia Minor with other areas of the world.
Bela Palanka is a town and municipality located in the Pirot District of southeastern Serbia. According to the 2011 census, the population of the town is 8,143, and the population of the municipality is 12,126. In ancient times, the town was known as Remesiana in Dacia Mediterranea. The name Bela Palanka means 'white town'.
The Nišava or Nishava is a river in Bulgaria and Serbia, a right tributary, and with a length of 218 km also the longest one, of the South Morava.
The Patriarchate of Peć Monastery or the Patriarchal Monastery of Peć, is a medieval Serbian Orthodox monastery located near the city of Peć, Kosovo. Built in the 13th century, it became the residence of Serbian Archbishops. It was expanded during the 14th century, and in 1346, when the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć was created, the Monastery became the seat of Serbian Patriarchs. Monastery complex consists of several churches, and during medieval and early modern times it was also used as mausoleum of Serbian archbishops and patriarchs. Since 2006, it is part of the "Medieval Monuments in Kosovo", a combined World Heritage Site along with three other monuments of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Pirot is a city and the administrative center of the Pirot District in southeastern Serbia. According to 2011 census, the urban area of the city has a population of 38,785, while the population of the city administrative area has 57,928 inhabitants.
Eparchy of Raška and Prizren or Eparchy of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija, is one of the oldest eparchies of the Serbian Orthodox Church, featuring the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Serbian Patriarchal Monastery of Peć, as well as Serbian Orthodox Monastery of Visoki Dečani, which together are part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Serbia. Yet it sustained one of the worst desecrations of historical monuments in history in 1999 and again in 2004 by Albanian irredentists living in Kosovo and Metohija. Serbian cultural and religious sites in Kosovo were systematically vandalized and destroyed over several historical periods, during the Turkish rule, Balkan Wars, World War I, World War II, Yugoslav communist dictatorship, Kosovo War, and 2004 unrest.
Archbishopric of Belgrade and Karlovci is the central or patriarchal eparchy of the Serbian Orthodox Church, with seat in Belgrade, Serbia. The head of the eparchy is the Serbian patriarch.
The Monastery of St. Nicholas is a Serbian Orthodox monastery built by the Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja between 1159 and 1166. It is situated in the center of the historical region of Toplica, near the present day city of Kuršumlija (Serbia), in the upper valley of Toplica river.
Savatije Sokolović, was Archbishop of Peć and Serbian Patriarch from 1585 to 1586. Before that, he served as Metropolitan of Herzegovina from 1573 to 1585. He was a member of the notable Sokolović family, being a nephew of Serbian Patriarch Makarije Sokolović (1557–71). Savatije founded the Piva Monastery in 1573.
Jovan Kantul, sometimes numbered Jovan II was the Archbishop of Peć and Serbian Patriarch, the spiritual leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church, from 1592 until his death in 1614. He planned a major revolt in the Ottoman Balkans, with Grdan, the vojvoda of Nikšić, asking the pope for aid. Owing to his activities for planning a Serbian revolt, he was arrested and put on trial in Istanbul in 1612. He was found guilty of treason and was executed two years later (1614).
Vuča Žikić, known as Captain Žika, was an important figure in the First Serbian Uprising. He was the founder, builder and commander of Deligrad fortification.
The siege of Braničevo was laid by Hungarian king Géza II against Byzantine-held Braničevo in late 1154.
The Serbian Free Corps, known simply as frajkori, was a volunteer militia composed of ethnic Serbs, established by the Habsburg monarchy, to fight the Ottoman Empire during the Austro-Turkish War (1787–1791). The conflict with Turkish forces ultimately proved inconclusive. The rebellion in the Sanjak of Smederevo and militia's operations resulted in the period of Habsburg-occupied Serbia, which took place from 1788 to 1792. Ultimately, the Serbian volunteer corps had the legacy of promoting the creation of future paramilitaries, such as during the First Serbian Uprising.
Upper Zeta is a historical region in modern Montenegro, situated roughly between the Morača and Zeta rivers in east-west direction, and between massif of Lovćen and Skadar Lake and Durmitor massif in south-north direction, encompassing the Zeta Plain and plain surrounding modern-day capital of Montenegro, Podgorica. During the Middle Ages, the province of Upper Zeta was part of the Serbian state under the Nemanjić dynasty, existing alongside Lower Zeta. It was then held by the Balšić and Crnojević noble families until the Ottoman conquest (1496). In the early modern period, the term was used for an area in the northern half of the "Old Montenegro" region, though its borders fluctuated.
Gavrilo II was Archbishop of Peć and Serbian Patriarch for a short time during the second half of 1752, having earlier served as the Metropolitan of Dabar-Bosnia since 1741.
Gavrilo III Nikolić was Archbishop of Peć and Serbian Patriarch from 1752 to 1758.
The Serbian Patriarchate of Peć or just Patriarchate of Peć, was an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate that existed from 1346 to 1463, and then again from 1557 to 1766 with its seat in the Patriarchal Monastery of Peć. It had ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Eastern Orthodox Christians in Serbian Lands and other western regions of Southeastern Europe. Primates of the Patriarchate were styled Archbishop of Peć and Serbian Patriarch.
The Eparchy of Niš is an eparchy (diocese) of the Serbian Orthodox Church with its seat in Niš, in Serbia. It has jurisdiction over the south-eastern regions of Serbia. Since 2017, Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Niš is Arsenije Glavčić.
Pandurica is an ancient castle in Montenegro to the south of Nikšić town. It is situated in a hilly area of the same name on the bank of the river Zeta. It is a cultural monument of national significance.
Cathedral of Saint George in Prizren is the Cathedral church of the Serbian Orthodox Eparchy of Raška and Prizren, located in the town of Prizren, Kosovo. It was built from 1856 to 1887, near the Old Church of Saint George, previous cathedral church of the same eparchy. The cathedral was burned and severely damaged by Albanian mobs during the 2004 unrest, but was later renovated.
Jovanka Kalić is a Serbian historian, university professor and member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.