My grandma used to live in Dorcol, Stari Grad (Old Town) of Belgrade. I enjoyed spending time with her, especially in that part of the town. For me, it depicts the real energy and the soul of Belgrade, and naturally it is a perfect place for a curious child like I am (not was, still am) to ask incessant questions. The area and every single little spot in it carries a rich history, incredible stories and legends. I will reveal one for you today, and it is the story of Chukur Cesma (Chukur Fountain), one of the saddest monuments in Belgrade.
I used to love long walks and talks with my grandma. On our way to Kalemegdan Park, which was naturally our everyday spot when we were together, we would always pass by this very small fountain, located in Dobracina street, one of the many charming narrow streets in Stari Grad. I was always wondering why my grandma was never annoyed when I insisted on stopping right in front of this particular monument. At first, I was just looking at it, and thoroughly analyzing the monument of a young, naked boy. Then after a while, I have realized his somber facial expression and that is where all the questions began. My grandma started telling me the story of this young boy, Sava Petkovic. The fact that it is a true story and not just a mere legend made me listen to my grandma breathlessly.
The warm afternoon of July 15, 1862 brought Sava Petkovic, young apprentice as well as many Turkish soldiers at Chukur Fountain to get some fresh water. Serbia was under Turkish occupation that had lasted for five whole centuries. When Sava was asked to bring the water from the fountain, he went there and playfully waited for the carafe to be full. Suddenly, he was harshly hit by one of the Turkish soldiers who wanted to take Sava’s carafe. Instantly, little boy started defending himself, which made the soldier very angry. He killed Sava with a bayonet.
Serbian soldiers reacted immediately and arrested the killers of an innocent little boy. However, the small event turned into a fierce battle between the two armies that had lasted that whole night. Shots and screams were heard on all sides of Belgrade. One event has spawned a series of decisive ones. One of the famous Belgrade people, Vandjel Toma, was in charge of building the monument for a young boy, so that the event will never be forgotten. He had been saving money that he later gave to Serbian sculptor, Simeon Roksandic, who realistically depicted the figure and the sorrow of a young boy on a Chukur Fountain and dedicated a description to Vandjel Toma and a sad event.
This is just one out of many stories about Belgrade and its history that I have learned from my beloved grandma. In each one of the stories, she brought life to the characters and made me really feel the importance of preserving cultural heritages. I promise I will keep revealing all the tales I have learned from her, if you promise you will take a minute of your time to visit this glorious fountain of Belgrade.
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