Medieval castle Maglič

Маglic consists of 8 towers connected by ramparts, and its interior, which covers 2,190 m2, is entered through two gates.

Medieval castle Maglič (between 1324 -1337) by Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia - Belgrade and Photographer: Dalibor AndjelkovicMinistry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia

Маglic has an elongated base and extends in a southwest-northeast direction. On three sides, the hill on which the fortification is located surrounds the Ibar, while on the fourth side, that is. at the extreme northeastern end there is a trench cut into the rock.  The ramparts of the fortification are 270 m long, while they are 2 m wide with a parapet (about 55 cm wide). The path is protected on the inside by a wooden fence, while its height is about 7 m.     

It is not known when Maglič was built, but it is believed that it was most likely built by Uroš I after the Mongol invasions, in order to prevent the penetration of new invasions through the Ibar gorge, ie to protect the approach to his endowment to Sopoćani and Nemanjina Studenica from that side. The eastern rampart was completely rebuilt, the western one was half-destroyed, while the northern rampart was half-destroyed, but the path survived.

Outside of the southwestern and southeastern ramparts with towers (between 1324 -1337) by Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia - Belgrade and Photographer: Dalibor AndjelkovicMinistry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia

The biography of Archbishop Danilo II is, for now, the only historical source that speaks of the oldest known construction of Maglič. According to him, Archbishop Danilo II restored the town of Maglič, the church of St. George and other buildings in the city and equipped them with the necessary things and books, and it can be concluded that Maglic was actually a fortified court of the archbishop.

Exterior of the three towers of the southwest rampart, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia - Belgrade, Photographer: Dalibor Andjelkovic, between 1324 -1337, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia
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Dungeon tower, view of the outer face of the east wall, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia - Belgrade, Photographer: A. Matović, between 1324 -1337, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia
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Medieval castle Maglič, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments Kraljevo, Photographer: Dalibor Andjelkovic, between 1324 -1337, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia
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This renewal had to take place between 1324 and 1337, while Daniel II was the Serbian archbishop. The previous history of the city is not known, and little is known about the later one, except that the Turkish crew was in it for a while, and after 1572 it was finally abandoned as a military facility. The city is typical during the renovation and consists of a city wall, reinforced with a total of eight towers. The base of the fortification is adapted to the terrain, and is irregular, in the form of an elongated polygon, about 120 meters long and 20 to 40 meters wide. In addition to the city wall and towers, among which the dungeon tower stands out, the city contains, as the most important buildings, the church of St. George, a palace, two water cisterns and other buildings.

Gate in the northern rampart, exterior (between 1324 -1337) by Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia - Belgrade and Photographer: Dalibor AndjelkovicMinistry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia

In the Monograph "Maglički zamak", archaeologist Marko Popović sheds light on the past of one of the best-preserved medieval fortifications. The construction of the castle ran in parallel with the renovation of Zice in the last years of the 13th century. It is not known who the builders were, nor who was the first master. Maglič is one of the best preserved medieval fortifications. The town in the Ibar valley, located between Kraljevo and Ušće, is not known for sure when it was built, or who was its first master.

Maybe at the time when Zica, for her protection, or in the time of King Milutin for protection from the Kumans and Tatars. There is a legend that it was built by Irina Kantakuzin, the wife of the despot Djurdj Brankovic, hated and therefore called the damned Jerina. The building is still popularly called Jerina's town. Experts, however, reject this legend, because it would mean that it was built at the beginning of the 15th century.

The palace adheres to the northwest rampart (between 1324 -1337) by Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia - Belgrade and Photographer: Dalibor AndjelkovicMinistry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia

The fortress, which is difficult to conquer even in the 21st century, can be reached via an unsafe suspension bridge on the Ibar, and then by a narrow path, for a long time attracting the interest of archaeologist Dr. Marko Popović. He translated his knowledge  into the monograph "Maglički zamak", which was published by the Archaeological Institute of SANU and the Institute for the Protection of Monuments in Kraljevo. Through the analysis of archeological remains, on the hill above the Ibar in the 12th century, a fortification was built, which was the forerunner of the Maglič Castle.

This older fortification in Maglič is not mentioned in historical sources - Popović writes. - Without a doubt, it was a relatively small castle in a naturally defended position, as they were built during the Komnin dynasty. His fate during the Serbian-Byzantine conflicts is not known, archeological remains indicate that after one fire, there was a renewal. It can also be assumed that the final destruction followed the incineration, but there is no reliable data on when this happened.

Medieval castle Maglič (between 1324 -1337) by Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments Kraljevo and Photographer: Dalibor AndjelkovicMinistry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia

Popović states that the founding of the monastery in Žiča was of crucial importance for the creation of the Maglički castle. The endowment of Stefan the First-Crowned, which became the seat of the autocephalous Serbian archbishopric, was built, as is well known, during the second decade of the 13th century. By the charters of the founders, she received properties, most of which were located in the wider vicinity of the monastery.

Medieval castle Maglič (between 1324 -1337) by Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments Kraljevo and Photographer: Dalibor AndjelkovicMinistry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia

Villages in the vicinity of Maglič were also donated to the Žička manor, but the town of Maglič is not mentioned among the donated settlements. - It is assumed that the fortification was already abandoned at that time, but there is a possibility, although unlikely, that it was in the hands of another owner at that time. However, we are inclined to think that the foggy hill with the ruins belonged to the Žička manor.

The author of the monograph examines the broader historical context that preceded the construction of the Maglič Castle: - It may have been a hint of the intention to move the state headquarters to the north, but such an idea that could have come from Nemanja's clever sons, Stefan and Sava, the grandchildren and heirs failed to realize. The state headquarters was in Rasa during the 13th century, so that the relocation of the ruling seat to Kosovo indicated the direction of the expansion of the Nemanjic state to the south.

Zica remained even further away from the ruling court, without organized defense and refuge in case of danger. According to the author of the monograph, the construction of the Maglič Castle took place in parallel with the renovation of Žiča in the last years of the 13th century. - It is not known who the nebula builders were, or where they came from. Judging by what they achieved, it can be concluded that the architecture of the Roman Empire was close to them.

Appearance of the inner wall canvas of the southeastern rampart, seen towards the dungeon tower (between 1324 -1337) by Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia - Belgrade and Photographer: Dalibor AndjelkovicMinistry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia

That would mean that they came from Greek countries, which was a common case. The participation of builders from the area of ​​the Serbian coast, to whom Byzantine traditions were not foreign, is not excluded. As one of the main problems he encountered during the research, Popović states that it is not known who lived behind the walls of Maglič at that time. The army and a few monks were certainly not the main users of the hall and the beautiful palaces. 

The dungeon tower on the northeast corner of the fortress, on the inside (between 1324 -1337) by Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia - Belgrade and Photographer: Dalibor AndjelkovicMinistry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia

Until the Turkish conquest of Maglic Castle, the paintings are arranged in fragments, he says, compiled on the basis of archeological research, but there are no precise data. It is not even known whether he was besieged and attacked before the final Turkish conquest. During the archeological excavations, there were no findings that would indicate fights around the castle or the demolition of the ramparts -  it is written. - At the time of the Turkish occupation, Maglic was probably occupied without a fight. 

The teeth of the southeastern rampart seen from the outside, towards the dungeon tower (between 1324 -1337) by Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia - Belgrade and Photographer: Dalibor AndjelkovicMinistry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia

Unlike the established Turkish practice of conquering occupied fortifications after the final conquest, Maglic is one of the few fortresses that have been retained and occupied by possessions. The results of archaeological research have refuted the previous opinion that the fortress was abandoned during the 16th century, apparently they were there until the wars took over this area. Evidence has been preserved that during the war of 1688-1690. 

The Austrians considered Maglič a Turkish stronghold. In those years, it was occupied by Serbian insurgents, and the last battles around Maglič were fought in 1815. - Those struggles signaled the liberation of Serbia. It was noted that at the very  beginning of the Second Serbian Uprising, in the battles with the Turks around Karanovac, today's Kraljevo, Serbian soldiers used fog walls and towers.

Credits: Story

Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia - Belgrade
Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments Kraljevo

The narration was provided by Tripo Danilo Spahić, historian.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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