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Smiljan (pronounced [smîʎan]) is a village in the mountainous region of Western Lika in Croatia. It is located 6 km (3.7 mi) northwest of Gospić, and fifteen kilometers from the Zagreb-Split highway; its population is 418 (2011). Smiljan is famous as the birthplace of inventor, engineer and scientist Nikola Tesla.
It consists of eighteen scattered hamlets (Baćinac, Bogdanić, Čovini, Debelo Brdo, Dražica, Kolakovica, Kovačevići, Ljutača, Milkovića Varoš, Miljača, Miškulin Brdo, Podkrčmar, Rasovača, Rosulje, Smiljan, Smiljansko Polje, Vaganac).
Smiljan resort is located in the central part of the Velebit-Lika plain, on the western edge of the field at the foot of the hill Krčmar. It consists of twelve villages which makes the spatial and functional unit.
In the surroundings are Hill-forts Bogdanić, Smiljan and Krčmar, prehistoric tombs, the churches of St. Anastasia, St. Mark and St. Vitus. It got its name from the fort Smiljan which ruins are located at hill Vekavac.
The oldest traces of settlement on the ground of Smiljan are dating from the Middle and Late Bronze Age. On the hillfort Miljac once was situated necropolis, and were found numerous remains of Iapodian culture.
The origin of the name Smiljan is not fully certain. It is commonly believed to be derived from smilje, the name for the Helichrysum plant. However, Croatian linguist Petar Šimunović believed Smiljan is patronymic in origin. Another hypothesis focuses on milja, Croatian for "mile", present in other toponyms such as Miljača hill, which suggests a connection with a nearby merchant road.
The area of Smiljan was controlled by the Ottoman Empire between 1527–1686, after which the Ottoman rule was expelled from those parts by counts Jerko Rukavina and Dujam Kovačević. Until that time the Ottoman aghas, Rizvan and Zenković, from Novi near Gospić had estates in Smiljan, Bužim and Trnovac.
After the defeat of the Ottomans in Lika, most of the Bunjevci (Roman Catholic Vlachs who spoke Western Herzegovinian subdialect of Neo-Shtokavian with Ikavian accent) migrated to Lika, including Smiljan between 1683–87. A 1700 church register listed 17 Serbian Orthodox families in the village, who had settled during the Great Turkish War. Villages and hamlets in Lika and Krbava were divided according to religious confession, which was aligned with ethnicity; in Smiljan the Orthodox, who were ethnic Serbs, lived in the hamlets of Selište, Ljutača and Bogdanić at that time.
In 1708 the Roman Catholic parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was founded. There is a small chapel, Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. The Serbian Orthodox church of St. Peter and Paul was built in 1765; it is now a branch of a parish in Gospić. The re-construction of the Catholic parish church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was started in 1860, and finished 1864. In 1830 a minor school was founded.
During World War II, warfare broke out among ethnic groups. The Ustaše of the Independent State of Croatia killed several hundred Serbs by the Orthodox church in Smiljan. The Ustaše killed most of the Serbs in this and other villages in Gospić district between 1 and 10 August 1941 including many of Nikola Tesla's relatives. The Orthodox parish church was destroyed by the Ustaše the same year.
The village of Smiljan (with Brušane and Oštarije) was incorporated to the Croatian Military Frontier only in 1713 (after being separated from the city of Karlobag), and subsequently registered in the 1712/14 census done in Lika and Krbava. In 1712/14 there were 1,405–1,536 people, with 1,153–1,283 people land owners, 117 landless (with Brušane), with average 1.33 acre per individual, 120–139 families who were land owners, with average 9.6 members in family. Most of them were Bunjevci (1,312), then Vlachs (208), and Carniolians (16). There were 103 Roman Catholic, and 17 Serbian Orthodox (Vlachian) families.
Some of the most numerous families (actually kind of tribe-collective) in Lika and Krbava were in Smiljan; of count and captain Nikola Rukavina Bevandić (56 members), Dujam Kovačević (50), Ivan Devčić (46), Mijat Lemajić (40), Juriša Pavičić (40), Milanko Pejnović (40), Petar Serdar (40), Ilija Brkljačić (30), and Anton Tomljenović (30).
206 houses existed in 1830, with 1,880 people, of whom 1,401 Roman Catholic, and 479 Orthodox faith. After some settlements got separated, in 1857 numbered only 110 houses with 1,132 people, of whom 535 Roman Catholic and 597 Orthodox faith, with further separation, in 1910 the hamlet numbered only 50 people, however whole municipality had 2,286 people, of whom 1,698 Roman Catholic, and 588 Orthodox faith.
|Population number according census|
Note: In 1869 and 1880 contains data for villages Rastoka (Gospić) and Smiljansko Polje, while in 1857 part of data for Smiljansko Polje.
Tesla memorial complex
Due to celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the electricity pioneer and inventor Nikola Tesla, Croatian officials opened a Tesla memorial complex, including a museum inside his restored childhood home. Today, Tesla's birth house, together with the Serbian Orthodox church of St. Peter and Paul (built in 1765) and the surrounding area, make up a memorial complex. There are various exhibits of Tesla's inventions and a museum where the details of the inventor's life are shown. There is also a congress hall in a nearby building. The original memorial complex was built in 1956.
During the Croatian War of Independence, several of the buildings were severely damaged by fire due to shelling. The Croatian authorities restored the complex and reopened it in a 2006 ceremony, with the highest dignitaries of Croatia and Serbia attending.
- Nikola Tesla (1856–1943) – inventor and electrical engineer. He emigrated to the United States in 1884.
- Ferdinand Kovačević (1838–1913) – inventor, engineer, and pioneer in telegraphy
- Edo Kovačević (1906–1993) – artist, member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and recipient of the Vladimir Nazor Award
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У Смиљану, поред Православне цркве, усташе су побиле, на свиреп начин, више стотина Срба.
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Села Смиљан, Дивосело, Липе, Острвица, Читлук, Широка Кула, Бар- лете и остала села госпићког котара подвргнута су тоталној ликвидацији срп- ског становништва од 1. до 10. августа 1941. године.
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Vesna Bunčić, ravnateljica Muzeja Like u kojem se čuvaju namještaj i predmeti iz Tesline rodne kuće. Kada je u svibnju 1992. jedan projektil pao na gospodarski objekt tik uz kuću, izbio je požar u kojem je ta drvena zgradica u potpunosti izgorjela. No, požar je zahvatio i dio krova Tesline rodne kuće. – Pripadnici HV-a ugasili su požar, a onda su namještaj i svi predmeti deponirani u Muzeju Like. Od 2000. godine Muzej Like krenuo je u sanaciju krova, dok je gospodarski objekt ponovno sagrađen 2003. godine – pojasnila je Vesna Bunčić. U Muzeju su, uz namještaj, i porculanski predmeti te 133 knjige iz biblioteke Teslina oca Milutina. Namještaj će tu i ostati jer se u obnovljenoj Teslinoj kući sada priprema drukčiji postav.
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