With Jenna at the helm, we speed out of Belgrade on a misty wet day untypical for September. The journey to Topola is about 76 miles and we arrive ahead of schedule as the car climbs a wooded hill. We passed through Topola, a fortified town in the centre of Serbia with much history, most of it violent. From the Celts, Romans, Greeks and Slavs back in 551 to the attacks in 1804, 1813 and 1877. In addition to civil wars and two world wars.
In 1903 King Peter selected the forested hill behind the village as a location for his mausoleum. It will be where he and his family are laid to rest in peace in an ornate building called St. George, the Patron saint of the Serbian people. He first builds a house near the church site, so he can manage the supervision of the work, this we later find is now a museum.
Within a few years in the mid-1910s, whilst not completed, the building could be used and was dedicated/ sanctified. The King then brings the remains of his parents to be buried there in 1912. As the war between Turkey and Serbia brakes out, the work ceased.
The impressive mausoleum of St George’s Church with five domes and a height of 89 feet is partly decorated. However, in 1915 the building was pillaged and metalwork and other items are stolen. Ironically, the king had used a lot of abandoned war/ army metal. In 1921 King Peter died and then King Alexander takes on the task of finishing the building.
St. George’s church has 40 million various colour pieces to create its beautiful mosaics, many are precious. Burial sites in the crypt including 26 Royal family members. Some empty areas remain for currently living family members who own the mausoleum, land, houses, hotels and more. Ironically, they undertake no official duties for the country.
In 1930, the building was completed depicting saints and royal family deceased members. Names of those lost in the 1914/18 war were to be inscribed on the walls, but finally, there were 350 thousand lost, so it was not possible. In 1944 German troops used the site as a watch tower.
The visit to the museum helps us all understand the royal families and their link to this amazing building. It’s time to hit the road and find our next very different venue.
Whinging Pome Random Rule No. 255:“It’s easy to have too much history or museums, churches or even shopping.”
So, we head off to a vineyard to indulge ourselves and enjoy local wines and cheeses.