The Skull Tower of Niš in Serbia

Skull Tower you said? Oh, yes..

The city of Niš in Serbia is rich in tradition, culture, and history. After Belgrade and Novi Sad, Niš is the third-largest city in the country and is home to a number of tourist attractions that draw people from all over the world.

Among these unique locations, the Skull Tower stands out as one of the area’s most fascinating and unsettling features.

Let’s explore the Skull Tower’s history together, including how many skulls were used in its construction and for what purpose. You’ll also find some info on how to visit the Skull Tower, such as its opening hours and reservation requirements.

The city of Niš, Serbia

Niš is a lively city located in southeastern Serbia. Niš has been inhabited since prehistoric times and is rich in culture and history. Throughout history, it has been a crossroads for many different civilizations.

The old Roman fortress of Niš, the ruins of the Mediana Palace, and the Bubanj Memorial Park are just a few of the city’s noteworthy historical landmarks.

Ruins of the Mediana Palace in skull tower
Ruins of the Mediana Palace

The Skull Tower, however, really stands out as the city’s most eerie and memorable landmark.

Where is the skull tower in Niš located?

The Skull Tower, also known as Ćele-kula in Serbian, is located in the city of Niš. It is located at Bulevar Dr Zorana Đinđića. This is about three kilometers from the city center.

If you’re looking for a short get-away trip, you’ll find this unusual historical monument to be the perfect destination because it is tucked away within a serene park.

You can make use of the city’s well-connected public transit system to get to the Skull Tower. Bus lines 3, 5, 10, and 11 all have stations close to the monument, making it simple for you if you rather not drive to get there.

The Skull Tower can be reached easily and affordably in Niš thanks to the availability of taxis and ride-sharing services.

You can also make use of taxis and ride-sharing services to get to the skull tower. However, if you do prefer to drive yourself, there will be plenty of parking spaces available.

Construction of the Skull Tower

The Skull Tower’s history began with the First Serbian Revolt against the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the 19th century.

The Battle of Čegar Hill, which took place in 1809 just outside the city of Niš, pitted Serbian rebels under the command of Commander Stevan Sinđelić against an Ottoman force that was much stronger.

Sinđelić discharged his pistol into a powder magazine, setting off a large explosion that killed most of the Serbian rebels and Ottoman soldiers nearby. Sinđelić knew victory was close at hand and wanted to stop the Ottomans from taking his men alive.

Hurshid Pasha, the Ottoman commander, gave the order to build the Skull Tower as a somber memorial to the conflict and a warning to upcoming Serbian rebels.

The centerpiece of the tower, the skull of Sinđelić, was put on top using the skulls of the Serbian fighters who had died in battle.

The gruesome building, which was finished in 1809, is a somber reminder of the brutality of war and the results of insurrection.

Why was the skull tower built?

The tower was built in 1809 by the Ottoman Empire as a warning to the local population. It’s like a representation of Ottoman dominance and a somber warning of the cost of a revolt.

The Ottoman government wanted to terrorize and control the Serbian people. A part of this was to showcase the skulls of the rebels who had died. Anyone who tried resisting the Ottoman Empire’s rule was strongly discouraged by the gruesome monument.

The entry of the tower
The entry of the tower

The Skull Tower did, however, produce an unforeseen result. The tower served as a symbol of resistance and a focal point for the Serbian independence movement instead of discouraging the populace.

With time, the Skull Tower acquired new importance as a symbol of the Serbian people’s unyielding spirit and tenacity in the face of adversity.

How many skulls were used in the tower?

An astounding 952 skulls (!) were placed in 14 rows and inserted into the mortar of the original Skull Tower. Everyone who saw the tower was struck by the frightening sight of the skulls’ faces facing outward.

The Serbian commander Stevan Sinđelić’s skull is a somber trophy at the summit, protected by a glass case.

Sinđelić's skull inside the skull tower
Sinđelić’s skull

Several of the skulls have been taken from the tower over the years, either by collectors or by relatives who wanted to give their loved ones a funeral.

As most of the skulls have been taken, only 58 skulls are still inside the tower’s walls now. But I can confirm from my own experience that the building’s eerie ambiance and eerie presence are still very much there.

The Skull Tower in Serbian Literature and Poetry

Several poets and authors in Serbia have made references to the Skull Tower in their works, immortalizing the tale of the structure.

The poem “The Skull Tower” by Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, a Montenegrin bishop, poet, and philosopher who is regarded as one of the most significant personalities in Serbian literary history, is among the most famous works.

Njegoš poem describes the terrifying sight of the tower and the strong spirit of the Serbian people, who did not cower before the horrifying image of oppression.

The poem has become a classic piece of Serbian literature and is often read aloud or covered in class as an illustration of the liberation struggle of the Serbian people.

When is the Skull Tower open?

All year long, you can explore this significant historical site, which will give you a unique and chilling experience. The tower is open during the following hours:

The Skull Tower is open everyday from 09:00h to 19:00h from April 1 through October 31.

The tower’s hours are shortened from November 1 to March 31 and are only open daily from 09:00h to 17:00h.

These hours can always change, so it’s always a good idea to get in touch with the tourist office for the most recent details before making travel arrangements.

One of the skull on the outside wall
One of the skulls on the outside wall

Do you need to book in advance to visit Skull Tower?

No, the Skull Tower is a walk-in attraction, so reservations are not necessary in order to visit. Normally, there aren’t many people in the tower, allowing you to tour the memorial at your own speed and soak in the ominous ambiance.

But again, it’s a good idea to get in touch with the local tourist office to make preparations in advance if you’re going in a big group or want to take a guided tour.

The Skull Tower charges a small entrance fee of 3 euros. This money goes toward maintaining this significant historical landmark. Even though the fee is quite small, there are discounts for students, elderly, or if you travel with a group.

Even though you don’t need to book in advance, it’s a great idea to book a sightseeing tour through the city of Niš with a visit to the skull tower included.

Click here to book your tour in Niš!

Where to stay in Niš?

There are a lot of options in Niš when it comes to accommodation but I would recommend the following places to stay:

📍Best Luxury option: Ambasador Hotel – Book your stay here!

📍Best Budget option: Bed & Breakfast Majesty – Book your stay here!

Visiting the Skull Tower: Tips for You

If you are considering a holiday to Niš, here are some useful ideas to make the most of your visit to the Skull Tower.

  • Spend some time exploring the area. In addition to the tower, the nearby egar Hill provides a lovely perspective of the city and is home to a memorial honoring Stevan Sinđelić and his fighters.
  • Visit the on-site museum to gain further insight into the significance of the monument and learn more about the tower’s history and the circumstances that led to its construction. The modest museum is housed within the Skull Tower complex.
  • Combining your visit with other sights is a great idea. Take the time to stroll around the city and uncover all of its hidden gems. The Mediana archeological site, the Crveni Krst (Red Cross) Concentration Camp, the Niava River promenade, and the historic Roman fortress of Niš are a few of the major attractions.
  • Just keep in mind, it is advised to wear modest clothing and show respect when visiting the Skull Tower, which is a memorial to those who died during the conflict.
  • Take a camera with you! The Skull Tower is a unique and unsettling sight, so be sure to document it with photos. While taking pictures, keep in mind to respect the ominous atmosphere and the feelings of other visitors.

The Wrap-Up: The Skull Tower of Niš in Serbia

Is the skull tower worth visiting? Yes, it is!

It’s a one of a kind museum. Wandering around inside the tower will give a creepy and humble experience. The tower is especially great when you do the full tour of attractions in Niš.

If you’re planning a road-trip to Niš or around the Balkans, there are some things to keep in mind.

Your restless voyager,


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