76 | Misterije » Mysteries F ROM MY P E RSP ECT I VE : GOR AN SKROBON J A , WR I T E R Serbia’s dark side in traditions and literature Serbian tradition is replete with stories and legends of terrible and peculiar phenomena and places, fantastic creatures and monsters – dog-headed psoglav demons, half-horse todorac creatures, plaguespreading čuma ladies, babaroga horned grannies and, perhaps most famously of all, vampires ALL ACROSS SERBIA ONE CAN FIND PLACES THAT are known for their “bad past” and the ghosts that haunt them. Standing out among them is certainly Devil’s Town, a unique location not far fromthe townof Kuršumlija, which has asmany as 202unusual earthen figureswhich, as legendhas it, representweddingguestswhowerepetrified in order to prevent n bewitched brother and sister from being wed. Loversofthesupernatural inSerbia also visit the mystical mountain of Rtanj, which, due to its natural R I TAM SRBI JE / RHYTHM OF SERBIA pyramidal shape, is believed to have beenbuilt byaliensmany thousands of years ago, and this placewas even mentionedbyoneof thegreatestever sci-fiauthors,ArthurC.Clark,whoreferredto it as the “navel of theworld”, convinced as he was that a special kind of energy is emitted from the top of Rtanj. It’s also worth mentioning the “castle of ghosts” in the town of Beočin: built by the once wealthy German Spitzer family as a luxurious castle with greenhouses and a parkwherepeacocksanddeerroamed freely, this building is today in ruins and at night, allegedly, the ghosts of itsformer inhabitantscanbespotted. Finally, every cemetery inSerbia can recount its own local story that causes one’s blood to freeze in the veins,butperhapsnoneof thosetales isasfamousasthatof thecemeteryin thevillageofMedveđanearTrstenik, which was the scene of events that shookEurope intheearly18th century and led to the Serbianword “vampir” entering all world dictionaries. Theresidentsof thearea,whichcame under Austrian rule in 1731, called onthe imperial armyto liberatethem from the plague of vampirism that threatenedtoeradicate the local population.Themysterious deaths that begantoplagueMedveđa compelled the commander of the Austrian Imperial Army in Jagodina, an officer called Schnetzer, to send a trusted man, Dr Glaser, to investigate the cases and determine whether there wasaplagueepidemic threatening to expand from the Ottoman Empire. Glaser, adoctorof the ImperialQuarantine Post, arrived in Medveđa on Dvorac duhova u Beočinu / The “castle of ghosts” in Beočin FOTO: NENADMIHAJLOVIĆ