People from Pirot are known as cheapskates, but Pirot will, all-heartedly, give you everything necessary for one great adventure in just a couple of days!
From the wild and wonderful Stara planina (mountain), over the monasteries and monuments, and an exquisite folklore heritage, wonderful people and delicious cuisine which you will want to take with you – you choose, Pirot has everything!
Pirot is located close to the border with Bulgaria, in the southeastern Serbia, and represents the center of Pirot’s municipality and Pirot’s region.
It is located halfway between Nis and Sofia, and it is 315km from the capital city. It has the borders with four municipalities: Babusnica, Knjazevac, Bela Palanka and Dimitrovgrad, and 35 km from Dimitrovgrad is the cross-border Gradina which leads to Bulgaria.
One will need about one hour of car-ride from Pirot to Nis, and less than four hours of car-ride from Pirot to Belgrade.
The city was built on the site where the old Roman edifice of Turres was, and it hasn’t become known as Pirot until the XIV century. In Turkish time, especially in 16th and 17th century, Pirot was a beautiful and rich borough, notably because of its good geographical position and trade relations.
The relief in Pirot region consists mainly of mountains. Stara mountain (Midzor 2169 m) is located in the northeastern and eastern, hillsides of Vlaska planina and Suva Mountain are located in the southern and southwestern part of the region and Svrljiske planine are in the northwestern part of the region. One of the biggest karst fields in Serbia is located in the municipality area, and that is Odrovsko polje.
Municipality of Pirot is rich in waters. Riverst that flow in this area are Nisava, Jerma, Temstica, Visocica, Rasnicka reka (river). Beside rivers, there are three lakes: Krupacko, Sukavsko, and the most famous among them, Zavojsko Lake. The climate of Pirot is mild-continental.
Pirot through history
Pirot was erected in III century at the site of the former Roman edifice Turres.The city developed thanks to the road Via Militaris (military road) which went through this area. The city got its name Pirgos in XIV century, and after that, for the first time, it got its Serbian name, Pirot.
In Turkish time, it got its completely new name, Serkoj-varosko village. In the second half of the XIX century, when Pirot was still under Turkish rule, Tatars from Russia inhibited this area and they founded the village Djorin Dol, and they lived primarily from stealing cattle. However, they didn’t say there for long, as the Turks banished them.
After a long and difficult period of slavery under the Turkish rule, in 1887 Turks were banished from Pirot area and from Serbia after the battles at Nisor, Budin Del and Pirot.
During The Balkan war and during The World War I, 7610 people from Pirot had lost their lives. In The World War II, more precisely, in 1941, Germans entered Pirot and gave Bulgarian fascists leadership over the city. Pirot was liberated from fascists on September 8, 1944, and in this liberating struggle of Pirot’s partisan order approximately 2000 people from Pirot had lost their lives.
Today, Pirot is a diverse tourist destination.
In Pirot area, there are Zavoj Lake, Zvonacka Banja (Spa), as well as the great number of mountains which surround it.
Regarding cultural and historical monuments, the most important ones in Pirot are the Konak Malog Riste (lodge), Momcilov grad, Pazarska crkva (church) or the Church of the Birth of Christ, The Court Building and the building of Pirot’s grammar school.
Pirot is a synonym for various events, especially during the summer. The International Folklore Festival is being held in Pirot, The Moto Gathering as well, various concerts and, the event that stands sas the symbol of this region – the competition in making Peglana kobasica (flattened sausage).
Peglana kobasica (flattened sausage) is Pirot’s specialty from the meat of lamb, goat or veal, mixed with the specific combination of spices, and dried in the end of the making process. Most often, a bottle is used for flattening (usually, filled with wine), and if someone does something differently, it is considered blasphemy. The ready-made flattened sausage has the shape of a horseshoe, it is cut in thin slices exclusively with a knife and perfectly matches the home-made wine.
Besides the flattened sausages, Pirot is famous for making various kinds of cheese – the most famous is Pirot’s cheese, and vurda – it is made by squeezing of the sour creamy milk; Pirot is also famous for many other local dishes.
It is assumed that the first piece of cheese ever that arrived to Serbia arrived firstly to Pirot. The ethnologist Sima Trojanovic notes that the Jew named Hain from Samokova (Bulgaria) at the beginning of 19th century had been teaching one man from Pirot about the process of cheese making.
In Pirot is the one and only Milk school on the Balkans, in which the cheese is being made by the traditional recipe from cow, sheep or mixed milk, and it stays like this for about eight weeks. Pirot’s cheese cannot be made from any kind of milk: a significant part of its taste comes from the fact that cows and sheep, which give the milk for the cheese making, eat the grass on clean hills of Stara planina, eating the grass of best quality and natural herbs that grows on the hills of this mountain.
It is not widely known that Pirot’s cheese was once served in The White House!
If you ask someone from Pirot which kafana (similar to restaurant/a bar) is good in the city, they will tel you that all of them are good. And surprisingly, it appears so! It is said that there were more kafanas in earlier time, but that now only the best ones remained. Due to the great interest of Bulgarian tourists who are the frequent guests, kafanas have the high level of good service and great quality of food and drinks.
If you go out of kafana, and you haven’t tried Pirot’s grill, it is like you’ve never been to Pirot, The real connoisseurs of grill say that the grilled meat from Pirot is of incomparable quality to grilled meat from Leskovac, which is much more famous.
People from Pirot claim that their grilled meat is the best because it is made of meat exclusively, while in the other areas, people add soya, additives and flour to grilled meat and sausages so as to get greater quantity.
What makes Pirot the most famous in Serbia and wider is the production of cilims (hand –woven rugs). Hand-weaving of rugs is present here since the period of Turkish rule and is one of the most specific and most difficult craft. Weaving of these rugs is being done on the so-called Pirot’s loom.