The Tower of Skulls

The Tower of Skulls
PERSPECTIVE\r\nThe Tower of Skulls\r\nby Thomas Fleming\r\nYou've never been to Nish?!" My friend was incredulous.\r\nHow can someone who has traveled, it sometimes\r\nseems, every inch of Montenegro, Bosnia, and Kosovo not have\r\nfound the time to go to Nish? The lady is far from being a local\r\nchauvinist, but when I first met her and asked (as I had been\r\ntaught by a Belgrader) if she was "iz Nish"—leaving off the genitive\r\nending, as they do sometimes near the Bulgarian border—\r\nshe exclaimed, "Oh, those people in Belgrade. They think they\r\nknow everything." In fact, as she later explained, the Nish dialect\r\nis a little strange. TTie accent falls forward on words, and\r\nmany Turkish expressions remain within the local vernacular as\r\na memorial to 500 years of occupation.\r\nWhy not go to Nish? Dr. Johnson's observation that every human\r\nlife is worth a biography applies to cities as well. This little\r\ncity in southeastern Serbia was a major stop on the route to\r\nByzantiiun. Constantine's family came from Nish (or rather,\r\nNaissus), and that first Christian emperor was actually born\r\nthere. It was in Nish that Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the\r\nSerbian royal dynasty of the Middle Ages, met with Barbarossa,\r\nwho was on his way to the Crusade. The Turks first took the city\r\nin 1385 but lost it again to the Serbs and did not reconquer it for\r\ngood until 1454. When I go, I shall be able to visit the Turkish\r\ncitadel built on the site of a...

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