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Град Пирот
City of Pirot
Panoramic view of Pirot
Panoramic view of Pirot
Coat of arms of Pirot
Coat of arms
Location of the city of Pirot within Serbia
Location of the city of Pirot within Serbia
Coordinates: 43°10′N 22°36′E / 43.167°N 22.600°E / 43.167; 22.600Coordinates: 43°10′N 22°36′E / 43.167°N 22.600°E / 43.167; 22.600
Country  Serbia
Region Southern and Eastern Serbia
District Pirot
City status March 2016 (2016-03)
Settlements 72
 • Mayor Vladan Vasić
Area rank 5th
 • City 1,232 km2 (476 sq mi)
Elevation 367 m (1,204 ft)
Population (2011 census)[2]
 • Urban 38,785
 • Administrative 57,928
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 18300
Area code +381(0)10
Car plates PI
Website www.pirot.rs

Pirot (Serbian Cyrillic: Пирот) is a city and the administrative center of the Pirot District in eastern 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.

The city has rich geographical features, including the mountains of Stara Planina, Vlaška Planina, Belava, Suva Planina; rivers which flow through the town, including Nišava, Jerma, Rasnička Reka, Temštica and the Visočica; and four lakes, the Zavoj Lake, Berovacko Lake, Krupac Lake and Sukovo Lake.

The city has a rich culture, with notable Orthodox church buildings, including the Church of St. Petka, and the monastery of St. Georges and St. John the Theologian from the late 14th century, both of which display a fine example of medieval Serbian architecture. Pirot is known for its traditional woven carpet, the Pirot kilim (Pirotski ćilim).[3]


The city, which covers an area of 1,235 km2 (476.84 sq mi), has several mountains in the vicinity, including Stara Planina, Vlaška planina, Belava, and Suva Planina.

The following rivers flow through Pirot: the Nišava, Jerma, Rasnička Reka, Temštica and the Visočica. Pirot also has four lakes: Zavoj Lake, Berovacko Lake, Krupac Lake and Sukov Lake.


Roman era[edit]

Thracians ruled the region prior to the Roman conquest and Romanization of Serbia in the 1st century BC. Turres, the first settlement in the vicinity, dates to the 2nd century AD.[4] At the Maglić monastery of village Blato, a 2nd-century AD stone depiction of the Thracian horseman was found in September 2008.[5] An inscription dating to 211 AD mentions the Thracian cult of Sebazianos (Sabazios); the name corresponds with the variations seen in Pautalia. The inscription was dedicated by a horion (cult society), headed by a leader (high priest); these were not Roman citizens.[6]

During the rule of Roman emperor Tiberius (14–37), Ponišavlje was part of Moesia, and during Vespasian (69–79) it was, as the rest of Serbia, organized into Upper Moesia (as opposed to most of Bulgaria, Lower Moesia).[7] At the end of the 4th century the basin of the Nišava was organized into the province of Dacia Mediterranea.[7] The Roman settlement of Turres (Latin for "towers"), which was a military residence, is mentioned in the first half of the 3rd century.[7] Later, the Byzantine town of Quimedava is mentioned here, with remains that have survived.[7]

The town was set to enable control and defence of the main road in this part of the empire. Besides, travellers could sleep here overnight, as well as get refreshments and new horses or vehicles. In time, the settlement advanced because of the important road passing through. It was also disturbed very persistently by invasions of the Gothic tribes throughout the 4th century, as well as the Huns in the 5th century.

Early Byzantine era[edit]

According to the written accounts On Buildings by Procopius of Caesarea, writing during the reign of the emperor Justinian I (527 – 565), the emperor ordered the reconstruction of thirty fortresses in the area from Niš to Sofia, including the towers of Pirot. He also gave the detailed description of those construction works. In times when the Slavs and Avars were invading the Balkans, the settlement was named Quimedava, and was situated on the southern slope of the Sarlah Hill.

Corresponding to the archaeological investigations, the town back then, surrounded by forts and fortified walls, also included an early Christian basilica, thermae (public baths), a necropolis, and other facilities. Beside the military fortress, a civil settlement (vicus) existed on the site called Majilka. By the late 6th century and early 7th century, successive barbarian invasions had broke through the Byzantine Danube frontier, and Slavs settled in large numbers across the Balkans.

Middle Ages[edit]

Pirot Fortress dates back to the 14th century.

In the 8th century the area of Pirot became part of the First Bulgarian Empire. In the early 11th century it became part of the Theme of Sirmium, a main administrative unit of the Byzantine Empire, formed by Emperor Basil II (r. 976–1025). He also formed the Archbishopric of Ohrid, an autonomous church under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople (1018). The region was then part of the Archbishopric of Niš.

In 1153, Arab geographer Burizi crossed the country, and recorded the place of Atrubi at the site of old Turres, describing it as situated by a small river which arrives from the Serbian mountains and was a tributary of the Morava.[8] During the Komnenos period, rebellious Serbs were captured and transferred to other areas; Manuel I Komnenos settled many Serbs in the province of Serdica (Sofia).[8] In 1182–83 the Serbian army led by Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja conquered Byzantine territories from Niš to Sofia.[9] Pirot and Bela Palanka (Remesiana) were not mentioned as they were in ruin since the rebellions in the 940s.[8] Since the end of the 12th century Pirot was part of the Serbian state, in which it played an important role in the eastern part.[10] The monastery of St. George in Temska was an endowment from the Nemanjić period.[10] In 1214-1216 Serbian Grand Prince (later King) Stefan Nemanjić with the autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1217, made Pirot's region ecclesiastically part of the Serbian church. Momchil, a Bulgarian brigand leader, rebuilt the ancient Pirot Fortress sometime before 1344. Pirot was afterwards part of the Serbian Empire under Stefan Dušan (r. 1331-1355) and his son Uroš V, assigned to the Dejanović noble family. Konstantin Dejanović built the nearby Poganovo Monastery[11] during Ottoman vassalage. According to some sources, Pirot was briefly annexed by the Ottomans in 1385, alternatively it switched hands to Prince Lazar. It was subsequently part of Stefan Lazarević's Serbian Despotate; however, the region was then conquered by Ottoman Musa by 1412.[12]

There is disagreement between Serbian and Bulgarian sources whether area belonged to Serbian or Bulgarian states in the 14th century period. According to Serbian sources, in the 14th and 15th century, Pirot belonged to the several Serbian states - the Serbian Empire of Stefan Dušan, Moravian Serbia of Lazar Hrebeljanović, and Serbian Despotate of Stefan Lazarević, while according to Bulgarian historian Koledarov, the town was under Bulgarian rule in the 13th and 14th century and belonged to the Bulgarian state almost to the end of Second Bulgarian Empire.The name of the city, Pirot, dates to the 14th century and is derived from Greek pirgos ("tower").[7] Pirot was part of Prince Lazar's state, in which it was an important strategical point.[13] At the Battle of Kosovo (1389) soldiers from Pirot and Nišava fought under vojvoda Dimitrije Vojihnović from Pirot.[10] The town held out for long in the Serbian Despotate, until it fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1427.[10] It was temporarily liberated in 1443 by Serbian and Hungarian forces.[10] It finally fell in 1445, and remained in Ottoman hands until 1877.[10]

Ottoman rule[edit]

Its Turkish name, Şehirköy (meaning "city, town village"[14]), is first mentioned in 1443.[15] It was organized into the Sanjak of Niš.[14] In 1469, the body of Serbian king Stefan Milutin was transferred via Pirot.[16] In 1561, hieromonk Isaija from Pirot visited Hilandar where he contributed a book.[16] Hilandar had dependancies in Pirot up until the 19th century.[17] Travel writer Stephen Gerlach (fl. 1578) recorded that Pirot Christians claimed that the town was the earlier estate of Miloš Obilić, the slayer of Sultan Murad at Kosovo.[17] In 1659, Austrian deputy August von Mayern visited the town and described it as "Schiarchici, a town called by the Orthodox as Pirot, but is not surrounded by walls and inhabited by Turks and Serbs (Rasciani)".[18] In 1664, Austrian deputy Leslie and English nobleman John Burberry visited the town, the latter noting that there were three churches, one of which was earlier Dominican.[18] In 1688 Ottoman renegade Yegen Pasha resided in the town.[19]

During the Great Turkish War, after taking Niš on 25 September 1689, Austrian general Piccolomini with his army of Serb volunteers and some Germans chased Turks towards Sofia. Arriving at Pirot, the town was empty of Turks, and he reported that the town was in flames and some parts in ash. Serbs were left as a town crew, from where they made raids into Pernik and Banya towards Sofia, and on 29 October attacked and conquered Dragoman.[19] In August 1690 the large Ottoman army took Pirot, defended only by 100 Germans, and then besieged Niš, taking it after three weeks.[20] Hungarian detachments retreating via Temska ravaged the monastery and terrorized the surrounding population, as inscribed by a priest on the church walls.[20] That year, many Serbs fled northwards with Patriarch Arsenije III.[20]

During the Austro-Turkish War (1737–39), Serbs volunteered to fight. The movement in the Nišava region was led by Niš metropolitan Đorđe Popović. The Austrian army, composed of Serb volunteers and 60 German infantry, took Pirot on 23 July 1737. In 1739, upon Ottoman return, the town was burnt down and its churches destroyed (one transformed into a mosque). 140 houses were burnt down which is evidence that hajduks of the region participated. Many Serbs in the region fled northwards with Patriarch Arsenije IV.[20]

In 1768, the town is described as half in ruins.[14] From 1761 to 1878, Pirot was the seat of the Metropolitan of Nišava.[14]

The Church of the Nativity of Christ was built through donations by the Serbian community in 1830s.

In 1806, during the First Serbian Uprising (1804–13), Hajduk-Veljko attacked Bela Palanka.[21] Ibrahim Pasha, unable to enter Serbia cross Aleksinac and Deligrad, planned to attack from Pirot and Lom with the intent to clash with the Serbian army before Niš; the Serbian army went to stop this and defeated him in the mountains between Pirot, Knjaževac and Chiprovtsi.[21] Rebel leaders from Pirot included Mita and Marinko, who were tasked to defend the border towards Pirot (in Ottoman hands).[21] After the Serbian Revolution, some of the population in the area migrated to avoid Ottoman retribution.[22] It was estimated in 1836 that there were 6–8,000 inhabitants.[22] Carpetry was the main occupation, there were many shops and cafés in the centre, the population was mixed, and it was the domain of the sister of the Sultan.[22] On 24 May 1836 a rebellion broke out in the town, which was suppressed by early June, and then another one broke out in August, also unsuccessful.[23] The rebels corresponded with Prince Miloš Obrenović, who visited the town in 1840.[24] The Niš Uprising (1841), which included the Pirot area, was also suppressed by the Ottomans. In 1846–1864 Pirot was administratively part of the Niš Eyalet.

19th century Austrian authors (Johann Georg von Hahn and Felix Philip Kanitz) stated that the Christian population of Pirot is Bulgarian. Kanitz claimed that these inhabitants always felt Bulgarian during Ottoman rule and did not expect inclusion in Serbia.[25][26][27] The prominent Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić wrote in a letter to the Bulgarian Nayden Gerov in 1859, described Pirot as a Bulgarian town.[28] The first known literary monument, influenced by Torlakian dialects is the Manuscript from Temska Monastery from 1762, in which its author, the Monk Kiril Zhivkovich from Pirot, considered his language as "simple Bulgarian".[29]

Modern history[edit]

Monument to fallen soldiers during the Serbian-Ottoman War (1876–1877)

On 16 December 1877, during the Serbian-Ottoman War (1876–1877), the Serbian army entered liberated Pirot.[30] The Treaty of Berlin (1878) saw Pirot and Vranje ceded to Serbia.[30] The 1879 Serbian regional population census registered that Pirot had a population of 76,892 people, and 11,005 households.[31] It was temporarily occupied by the Bulgarian army after the Serbo-Bulgarian War, between 15 November and 15 December 1885 [O.S.].[32] During World War I, the Bulgarian army entered Pirot on 14 October 1915.[33]

In the Interwar Period, the terrorist Internal Western Outland Revolutionary Organisation, countering Yugoslav rule in the region, was engaged in repeated attacks against the Yugoslav police and army. From 1929 to 1941, Pirot was part of the Morava Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. During World War II Bulgaria occupied so-called Western Outlands, as well as Pirot and Vranje. After the Second World War, these regions were returned to Yugoslavia. After Serbia's independence, these areas remained within the Serbian state.

Pirot was granted city status in February 2016.[34]


Aside from the city of Pirot itself, the city territory covers over 70 settlements. In 2011, the whole territory had 57,911 inhabitants: 93.8% Serbs, 3.0% Roma and 0.8% Bulgarians.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1948 70,049 —    
1953 69,210 −1.2%
1961 68,073 −1.6%
1971 69,285 +1.8%
1981 69,653 +0.5%
1991 67,658 −2.9%
2002 63,791 −5.7%
2011 57,928 −9.2%
Source: [35]

According to the 2011 census results, the city of Pirot has a population of 57,928 inhabitants.

Ethnic groups[edit]

Ethnic composition of the municipality:

Ethnic group Population
Serbs 53,232
Romani 2,576
Bulgarians 549
Gorani 80
Macedonians 67
Yugoslavs 47
Croats 42
Montenegrins 23
Albanians 19
Others 1,293
Total 57,928


Notable brands of Pirot include the Pirot Kilim, Pirot opanak, Pirot cheese, and ironed sausage.

Tourist attractions[edit]


Notable people[edit]

Further information: Category:People from Pirot


  1. ^ "Municipalities of Serbia, 2006". Statistical Office of Serbia. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  2. ^ "2011 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Serbia: Comparative Overview of the Number of Population in 1948, 1953, 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991, 2002 and 2011, Data by settlements" (PDF). Statistical Office of Republic Of Serbia, Belgrade. 2014. ISBN 978-86-6161-109-4. Retrieved 2014-06-27. 
  3. ^ http://www.rastko.rs/isk/mfruht-applied_art.html
  4. ^ p. 829
  5. ^ http://www.pressonline.rs/page/stories/sr.html?id=46190&sectionId=56&view=story
  6. ^ Eastern cults in Moesia Inferior and Thracia (5th century BC-4th century AD)[page needed]
  7. ^ a b c d e Petrović 1996, p. 9.
  8. ^ a b c Petrović 1996, p. 10.
  9. ^ Petrović 1996, pp. 10–11.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Nikolić 1974, p. 11.
  11. ^ Petković, Dr Vlad. R. (1924). Stari srpski spomenici u Južnoj Srbiji (in Serbian). Projekat Rastko. 
  12. ^ p. 677
  13. ^ Kostić 1973, p. 13.
  14. ^ a b c d Kostić 1973, p. 20.
  15. ^ Petrović 1996, p. 16.
  16. ^ a b Petrović 1996, p. 17.
  17. ^ a b Petrović 1996, p. 18.
  18. ^ a b Petrović 1996, p. 19.
  19. ^ a b Petrović 1996, p. 20.
  20. ^ a b c d Petrović 1996, p. 21.
  21. ^ a b c Kostić 1973, p. 21.
  22. ^ a b c Kostić 1973, p. 22.
  23. ^ Kostić 1973, pp. 23–24.
  24. ^ Kostić 1973, pp. 23–25.
  25. ^ Felix Philipp Kanitz, (Das Konigreich Serbien und das Serbenvolk von der Romerzeit bis dur Gegenwart, 1904, in two volume) # "In this time (1872) they (the inhabitants of Pirot) did not presume that six years later the often damn Turkish rule in their town will be finished, and at least they did not presume that they will be include in Serbia, because they always feel that they are Bulgarians. ("Србија, земља и становништво од римског доба до краја XIX века", Друга књига, Београд 1986, p. 215)...And today (at the end of the 19th century) among the older generation there are many fondness to Bulgarians, that it led him to collision with Serbian government. Some hesitation can be noticed among the youngs..." ("Србија, земља и становништво од римског доба до краја XIX века", Друга књига, Београд 1986, c. 218; Serbia - its land and inhabitants, Belgrade 1986, p. 218)
  26. ^ Jérôme-Adolphe Blanqui, „Voyage en Bulgarie pendant l'année 1841“ (Жером-Адолф Бланки. Пътуване из България през 1841 година. Прев. от френски Ел. Райчева, предг. Ив. Илчев. София: Колибри, 2005, 219 с. ISBN 978-954-529-367-2.) The author describes the population of the Sanjak of Niš as ethnic Bulgarians, see: [1]
  27. ^ Bulgarians in southwest Moravia by J. von Hahn, Illuminated by A. Teodoroff-Balan, Sofia, September 1917, Al. Paskaleff & Co. publishers, Chapter II.
  28. ^ Кръвта вода не става, Марковски, Венко, Издател Veni Markovski, 2003 ISBN 9545284005.
  29. ^ Василев, В.П. Темският ръкопис – български езиков паметник от 1764 г, Paleobulgarica, IX (1986), кн. 1, с. 49-72
  30. ^ a b Kostić 1973, p. 50.
  31. ^ Svetlana Radovanović (1995). "Demographic Growth and Ethnodemographic Changes in the Republic of Serbia". 
  32. ^ Kostić 1973, p. 56.
  33. ^ Kostić 1973, p. 63.
  34. ^ "Pirot, Kikinda i Vršac dobili status grada" [Pirot, Kikinda and Vršac Granted City Status]. B92. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  35. ^ "2011 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Serbia" (PDF). stat.gov.rs. Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. Retrieved 6 March 2017. 


External links[edit]