Saturday, July 07, 2007

Maglić - medieval fortress

Our next destination was Maglić, a 13th century medieval castle high above the Ibar River about 25 km from Kraljevo. This castle post enabled easy control over the Ibar valley. Its name means “Foggy One” in Serbian. Indeed, there was a certain fog around the castle. We picked up a young man in front of the Bogutavać restaurant (the oldest restaurant in Serbia – nearly 200 years old) who had traversed up to Maglić countless numbers of times. We were told that there might be snakes along the path, so we wore pants and sneakers. It was about 100° (38°C) out, making the climb even more challenging.

Parking the van at the edge of the river, we saw several people embarking on white water rafting. A small suspension bridge crossing the Ibar River just had its wooden boards replaced after a woman fell through the week before. Shortly after beginning the ascent, we met an older woman heading back down. She said that she had turned back before reaching the top, due to the difficulty of the terrain and the heat. We decided to move onward, but decided to take water breaks and short rests.

Finally we reached the single entrance, passing through 2 meter thick walls and into the ruins of the fortress. Inside were the ruins of a 2-storey palace with high gables, a large reservoir for water, and a well. Protected by the Ibar River on three sides, the fortress has a rectangular shape, 7 towers, and a large dungeon. Climbing up wooden ladders, we reached the upper level and the fortress walls. We had to be careful, as some of the wooden plans were rotten and there were no guardrails. From here, the curved shape of the Gothic-style single nave St. George Church was more visible. From the towers, we had an excellent view of the Ibar River and valley – definitely a strategic vantage point. The surrounding mountains were heavily forested. The towers had the typical narrow arrow slits and other fortification measures. Some openings were larger and were likely used to pour hot oil on invaders.

Inquiring about a newer-looking structure, we were told that it was built to temporarily house the bones found here. Monks and nuns from Žiča fled to Maglić for protection – which worked for a while. Despite its fortification and height, Maglić fell into Turkish hands in 1438 and then finally in 1459, becoming a center of a large Turkish district. The bones have since been returned back to Žiča. The fortress of Maglić also was of some military importance for the last time during the Second Serbian Uprising (1815).

No comments: