Nis, Serbia

Here are some paragraphs from a 2009 family letter.

Last weekend we traveled to the southern city of Nis.We had a little time for sightseeing around work.  We were in Nis to help demonstrate remote broadcast at the Nis Film Festival.  The festival was in the old Turkish citadel so the main tourist attraction was all around us.  We had a pizza in the garden of the Turkish bath.  We drove out of town to visit the Skull Tower and the Nis Hot Springs.

The tower is about 10 feet high and is lined with the skulls of Serb rebel soldiers, erected by the Turks as a warning against further rebellion.  Apparently when it was new the skulls shone like marble but over the years people removed many skulls to give them a “proper” burial. The tower is now enclosed in a church and the remaining skulls are protected.  This tower is  something that many people in Nis think foreigners “must see” to understand the sufferings of the Serbs under the Turks, which some Serbs seem to love to remember, with some pride, in all its agony.

The hot springs are in the hills overlooking Nis.  There’s a mix of faded elegance and socialist monstrosity, but the main features are fountains where you can drink cold radioactive mineral water, and hot streams where you can dip your feet in the hot radioactive mineral water.  With a hot foot and a cool drink it’s a pleasant way to spend a summer day.  I saw a lot of multi-generational families, kids splashing, parents spreading the picnic and grandma soaking her feet.   The radioactive mineral in this water is radon.  It had never occurred to me to seek out radon before.


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