Pirot

Pirot square, center of Pirot, Red square, Pirot

Pirot is southeastern Serbia town near border with Bulgaria. Turres settlement from 3rd century of Roman era is ancient Pirot. It dates before ancient Slavs, who named it after the word Pirgos, and in other history times it had many different names.

Town Pirot Serbia

The mountains are surrounding the city and has rivers running through it. Three lakes Zavoj, Krupac and Sukovo in vicinity. It become part of Serbia in 12th  century.

History of ancient Pirgos

First mention of Pirot are from 3rd century. They talk about this location and it’s town of that time named Mutacio Turess. It was fortress and town near ancient roman road Via Militaris. Much after, in 13th century, this place got it’s name Pirgos, that led to todays’s name Pirot. History of Pirot and fortress Kale undivided always.

What to see in city of Pirot

On of most important things to see here is Pirot’s fortress, of Momčilo’s fortress. The city of Momčilo or Kale is the Medieval local fortress.The remains of a Roman Turres will soon be preserved and partially restored and thus available to the general public. Furthermore, early Christian basilica comes from the 5th century. With Byzantine fortifications of old Pirot, together make a unique archaeological complex.

The Momcilo’s fortress in Pirot

All around is great nature. Must see are Stara mountain as one of natures pearls in Europe, resort Temac on Temšica river, Poganovo and Sukovo and monastery’s, Zavojsko, Sukovo i Krupac lake and Rsovci cave church. It it located about 22km from Pirot. Before newer time they were great at pottery craftsman.

Pirot carpet or in Serbian “Pirotski Ćilim” is another craft product which is characteristic for local craftsman. They are making in specific and world known product. It is specific because it is handcrafted to two identical faces, and that makes it unique in the world. It can be produced in all shapes and sizes, with different ornaments or stripes. This carpet was often received as a valuable gift either in private or political state contacts.

Momcilo fortress legend and Pirot

History of Momcilo’s fortress or Kale as they call it in Pirot is much unknown. Who was that Momcilo? It was considered that he was some legendary here from this land. But recently many things are discovered. The fortress of Momcilo got it’s name after duke Momcilo. For him it is presumed that he lived in 14th century. But fact is that he died in 1345. Bu most important local legend, he was killed in setup. His wife and her lover, local Ottoman ruler, made a deal and poisoned him. About this historic person, Momcilo, all surrounding countries have their legend. Not just us. But with recent facts, the question is if Pirot’s fortress can still be called Momcilo’s fortress.

It was also considered that Kale in Pirot was built by him. Fact discovered recently tell different story. One big mistake was found. This fort was built in 14. century. Here are found ruins from Via Millitaris period, but this new fortress was built much after. For that reason, he couldn’t have built the fortress during his life. So this story goes to legend.

This fortress in city of Pirot always had defense character. Even in Via Millitaris time. Also when it was built, in prince Lazar’s time. At least oldest part, called Upper part. In that part was administrative and military center for Pirot’s territory. Later on, it was built even more. In time of con of princ Lazar, Stefan, Kale was built in middle part, Name Middle part. In time of Ottomans it was finally finished in today’s shape in 18th century. Lower part was built. 3D animation of Pirot’s fortress can be seen on this link of Ministry of integration.

Sarlah hill near urban Pirot and Stara mountain

Sarlah hill is location is very near downtown of city of Pirot. Also to Stara mountain. Many legends from this part of Serbia are about this hill. Mostly legends about buried treasure. That notorious treasure is buried in caves in Sarlah location. You can visit those caves and try to find it yourself. You should always have professional guides, or you are going at your own risk.

Except that few more discoveries from that time are found. Fortress, basilica, coins and ceramic pots from 4th century are found too. Sarlah is considered that is area of antique suburb of Pirot. All this exhumation are showing that ancient Pirot (Turres) had much more importance in ancient times. In Sarlah hill was one part of ancient Via Millitaris road.

Pirot kilim (carpet) and Pirot, bond lasting for centuries

Red carpet, Pirot rug, Colours rug, made in Serbia

Pirot carpet is one of traditional folk symbols of this area. First written mentions of this antique hand waived carpets of Serbia was in 1565. It is very distinctive for this part of Serbia, especially of this part. Because of the knowledge and Pirots sheep wool, needed for making the carpets. This is one of products from Pirot and Serbia. That is also world famous. It is specific that it has two identical sides with ornaments. As such, it is unique in the world. It can be made in all sizes, with different ornaments. Pirot carpet was part of tradition for making and giving. Tradition was to give it as present in good faith. It was also given as present even in important private and state and official visits.

On this craftsmanship people of Pirot and around are very proud. And it is well deserved. This is one of things which lasted for generations and generations. The making Pirot’s carpet craft was teached in every family. And transferred from elder woman in the family. Characteristics of this carpet are that it has identical sides, and ornaments. The ornaments are in geometric shapes. On the photo above, you can see typical Pirot carpet. With all it’s beauty, and color differences. Pirot carpet was very important because it was often present in visits. Not only private, even official state ones. Always with good intention and wishes with it. For luck, for long life, against bad luck etc.

Crafting in Pirot

The making of jewelry by local people is based on the traditional medieval influence lasting till today. Great craftsman are producing it through centuries. Decoration used on kerchiefs and scarfs are large pins. Local ethno food is famous for are “kačkavalj” and “peglana” sausage. This symbols of South Serbia and especially Pirot’s county is art made by people of  “Stara Planina” mountain from 17th century till today.

Finally it is green or healthy food. Local people are making Kačkavalj or cheese form Pirot from sheep or cow milk or mix of both. Flattened or “Peglana” in Serbian language is the type of sausage. That using only the finest meat mixed with spices and chevon, lamb and veal. And all types of meat generally considered to contain less fat. Flattened sausage is organic, green food too.

Food, meat, sausage, made in Serbia, ironed sausage
Flattened sausage from Pirot

Except these amazing sausage from Pirot, this area is also making the amazing dairy products for you to eat. For that, all the credits goes to tradition in making them. And also, amazing milk from this area. In this part of Serbia, except Pirot, is location of Old (Stara) mountain. With all it’s villages, clean nature, and amazing tourist attractions. In those villages and nature, lots of villagers is is doing cattle breading and milk and dairy production. Or you can just visit villages that you will not forget, like Rsovac or Gostusa.

Ponisavlje museum

Museum in Pirot, or Ponišavlje museum, is located in ancient house built in 1848. House was originally owned by Hrista Jovanović, important local trader. The building itself is old fashioned house, that were normal in that time. It was family home before it was transformed to museum.

From 1958. it is protected by state of Serbia and from 1979. it is monument of exceptional importance. You can visit this museum on location in Pirot on adress Nikole Pašića 49. Contact telephone is 38110-313850 / 38110-2100850. Working hours are from 8 to 15 hours during working days. Saturdays as opened during 9 to 14:30. Sundays are visiting days only for scheduled visits.

How to come to Pirot Serbia?

If you are interested in going to Pirot in southern part of Serbia, where is factory that was once Tigar and now Michelin, you can do it like this. Of course, it it always great question where is your starting point. 🙂 For sure, two main directions are to Pirot. One is from city of Nis. Other is from Bulgarian capital Sofia. From Sofia, you have two bus lines every day. From Nis there are more. So we recommend Nis.

By train you can come here from Nis with no problem. And also, from Sofia to town Dimitrovgrad. This is where you change trains and continue to destination. Road was as much easier to come to here. And fastest. You can use map on the bottom of the page for help to come here.


For what to see around Pirot see Around Pirot. Also, near Pirot are cities Nis, Prokuplje, Zajecar, Leskovac and Vranje.

city of Pirot average year temperature, Pirot temperature, average temp Pirot city

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Header photo by SerbLazarCC BY-SA 4.0 ; Pirot rug photo by OrjenTemplate:Pavle CikovacCC BY-SA 3.0

1 Response

  1. AlyciaBig says:

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    I hope I visit Serbia fast. Great website. Keep on!

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