The Serbian word that is well-known in dictionaries from all over the world, throughout cinema, literature and belatristics. Vampires, as a notion, are well known throughout centuries in the Balkans. They are, even, mentioned in the Criminal Code, written in 1349th, by it’s author – Dusan the Great, one of the greatest Serbian emperors who ever lived, as the criminal code of the time when it says that the vendors are “unlawful” and that the pope who participates in such a “venture” will loose his job, he will no longer be a “holy man”, and the whole village that organized that venture will be punished.
Vampires have always been part of the folklore in the Balkans, and in Serbia, for the first time in historical sources they are mentioned in Austro-Hungarian newspapers, as well as in city chronicles.
The most famous Serbian vampire is Sava Savanovic, but the first Serbian vampire is actually a man named Petar Blagojevic. He is the man about whom all the Austro-Hungarian newspapers wrote, and whose name is written in the annals of city administration, and of historical sources.
Petar Blagojević was a vampire long before Sava Savanović was born, and thus he entered the world wide chronicles as the first vampire in Serbia. Unlike Savanovic, there is more serious evidence from the literary ones – the Austrian press conveyed a report in 1725th that seriously speaks about the existence of vampires in Serbia.
The village of Kisiljevo near Pozarevac, like most of the Serb villages, has been quite relaxed over time, there are many closed houses that look avenue. There are no windows or doors, roof fell down, there’s not even electric installations. The number of inhabitants has also drastically decreased in the last ten years, and those who have remained remember the story of their ancestors and of the first Serbian vampire Petar Blagojevic, who was in this town at the beginning of the 18th century, but the media fame was transferred to Sava Savanovic from Zarozje.
The search, however, shows that in the Austrian sources Petar Blagojevic (Peter Plogojowitz) was recorded as a peasant from Serbia, which is bound by the legend that he became a vampire after his death. It is said that he lived in the 18th century in the village of Kisilovo (today’s Kisiljevo), in the northern part of central Serbia, which was then part of the Austrian empire (from 1718 to 1739). After the death of Petar Blagojević, people in this region started to die after a short and mysterious disease. There was a suspicion that the reason for all that was because Peter was a vampire.
On their deathbeds, many people claimed that Blagojević had visited them in the night, and wanted to drown them or drink their blood.
His wife fled right after these strange events, saying that a dead husband came to her in her sleep, in search of his shoes. Finally, two months after the burial, in June 1725, Blagojević’s tomb was opened, and the sight was unusual – his body did not begin to rotten, and he had some fresh blood on his lips. The locals immediately pierced the stake through his heart and burned his remainings. The responsible official of the Austrian administration was against it, but finally he agreed to let the villagers take care of the vampire, due to the great fear that ruled among the population. The report by Frombalda, imperial chief of the Burgenland region, was later published in Vienna’s Wienerisches Diarium and belongs to the first mention of vampirism in Europe and the world! According to the church’s bells in Borislav Dragojević’s Kisiljevo, after Peter’s death, the Austrian military administration sent a commission to investigate whether there are vampires in Serbia and whether the vampire epidemic has developed. People started to open the graves of people who were suspected to be vampires. Austrian commissioners ordered the burning of all corpses that were active, and since then there has been a curse in the village.
In addition to Blagojevic, Austrian sources, from that time – somehow around about 1825, mention also another Serb of the unusual name Arnaut Pavle (Arnold Paole). Nevertheless, the Austrian clerics of the time would rule: write German to understand the whole world, and Pavle, after the nickname “Arnaut”, became Paole.
Pavle was an outlaw and a missionary soldier for hire, according to Vienna sources, and he had a close encounter with a vampire in Greece, from where he brought an infection. He allegedly killed a vampire there, but after that he felt bad and soon died in a village near Svilajnac, after which the attacks of the vampire started in that region.
Pavle experienced Peter’s fate – his body was exhumed (by the authorities) and stabbed with the big wooden stake, beheaded and burned.
Both cases have been described in the Austrian media and have become part of the “vampire mania” in England, France and Germany. Later, our neighbour Prince Vlad Cepes took over the whole “vampire” fame… Until the water mill in Zaroge did not collapse.
Since the waterfall in Zaroge has collapsed, residents of surrounding villages are afraid that their neighbour, the late Sava, about whom many legends have passed, is looking for a new home wandering around, torturing and killing people and cattle ruthlessly. But who is Sava Savanovic?
Is the myth of the most famous Serbian vampire so strongly rooted among the people, that the local council issued a health warning that there is a possibility that a vampire from this city, long gone Sava Savanovic, would wander around ?! In order to find out about this, RTL and National Geographic journalists co-authored by forensic archeologist and anthropologist Mate Borini tried to illuminate the myth of a Serbian vampire in 2015th, but without success. Around the name of Sava Savanovic, a veil of mystery continues to appear.
Intrigued by this mystery, as well as by the noise that has burst into the people over the collapse of Sava’s old windmill, now it is believed that the most famous Serbian vampire is wandering around and looking for a new home.
We were sitting cosy in our car, in the rainy October morning, accompanied by pale warnings of the dry , walnut leaves, as we headed towards Valjevo. In the thirty-five kilometer of the highway Valjevo-Bajina Basta, starting from Debelo Brdo, the village Zarozje, the largest village of 33 villages in the municipality of Bajina Basta, is located in the untouched and ecologically pure natural wealth made of forests, spacious meadows and pastures.
Zarozje is a typical mountain village and is located at a height of about 800 to 1,000 meters, while the smaller part of the village extends on the slopes of the Povlen mountain at 1300 meters above sea level. Southwest of Povlen on the second hill top from Debelo Brdo, in the valley of the river Tresnica, there is Pasha Ravan, once a densely forested and now inhabited place and business center of Zaroja.
The narrow and dark line under the source of the river Rogačica, covered with tall beams, is all unusual and mysterious. The narrow path to her descends from Zarozja, right from the village road, and as if she intends to intrude travelers to intrude Sava into her arms.
It seems that some strange peace prevails in this deep water. Initially, serbian narrator Milovan Glisic, in the story “After Ninety Years”, described the dark forces and the adventures of the vampire who lived here.
According to the motives of his story, the first Serbian horror movie called Leptirica (“The Butterfly”) was created. Thanks to this unusual anti-hero, the village Zarozje became very popular amongst people from all around the world and in today’s time still lures visitors and tourists from all over the world!
The locals, in this small village, distribute raspberries, cut and process the wood and try to fit into this, modern, time… However, the myth of the vampire Sava Savanovic still persists.
According to the legend, the peasant Sava Savanovic is believed to have lived in an old windmill in the village of Zarozja, where, it is believed, that after his death he killed and drank the blood of people who would come to grind grain or who were just passing by his windmill at night.
Before he became the most famous “undead” in Serbia, Sava was a well-respected and respected trader with livestock, but people were saying that he was also an outlaw and a thief, who did a lot of bad deeds and mischiefs through Serbia and Bosnia. He was loud, strong and brave. He did not marry for a long time, and then fell in love with the daughter of a trader from Valjevo. However, her father did not allow marriage because Sava was much older than her. After that rejection, he changed, as if the devil himself had imposed him. He became so vexed that people began to avoid him. He was rude and sever to his family, his younger brother Stanko, and even his wife and children.
One day he decided the girl he was so desperately in love with. She went outside her house to pasture the sheep. Sava took a pistol and tried to hide himself in the yard. His brother Stanko had a bad feeling. He saw him preparing a belt cord, so he followed him for it. Although Stanko was afraid for his own life, he kept on tracking Sava to prevent another evil, greater evil.
After half an hour of walking, Sava came across a girl. He asked her if she wanted to go home with him. She replied that she would, but that she should not be from her father and disobey his will. She turned, then, for a moment to look at the sheep, when Sava took out his gun and shot her in the back. Stanko jumped out of the shrubs and began to fight him. The shepherds who were in the vicinity heard gunfire and came closer to see what was all that fuss. Stanko got scared and tried to run away, but the shepards thought he was a robber. One of them shot him in the back and killed him on that very place. Sava, scared and sweaty, somehow got up and killed a shepherd who shot his brother.
Then others saw the body of the girl and realized that they had killed the wrong brother. They surrounded Sava and beat him to death with sticks and stones. The villagers did not want to bury him in the cemetery because he was a murderer so they simply buried him near the place where he was killed. Only a few days later, the story spread that Sava has become an undead and that he was vamping around.
The villagers claimed to see him at night as they lurk. They were frightened to the bone. So, they decided to dig him out of his forest grave and stab his heart with a wooden stake, but Stanko’s wife objected. In order to preserve Sava’s body, she secretly, with her brothers, digged it and transferred it far into the dark woods near the old water mill. Since then, he has been lurking from there, biting, and drinking blood of the locals who come to the water mill.
On the one side of the water mill spreads a deep, dark forest, and on the other side of it, there is some strange gray emptiness and uncomfortable silence, and the whole place look spooky even in the middle of the day!
Three year ago old water mill collapsed, and the locals understood it as a prediction. Fearing that the deceased Sava will return, to request lodging in their homes, the locals placed on the home threshold throat thistles, hawthorn sticks and garlic, and placed wooden crosses on their walls.
Whether it’s a myth or a truth … “VAMPIR” is the only Serbian word in the dictionaries of all languages in the world.