Panoramic view of Pirot

Coat of arms

Location of the city of Pirot within Serbia
Coordinates: 43°10′N 22°36′E / 43.167°N 22.600°E / 43.167; 22.600Coordinates: 43°10′N 22°36′E / 43.167°N 22.600°E / 43.167; 22.600
Country Serbia
District Pirot
Settlements 72
  Mayor Vladan Vasić
  City 1,232 km2 (476 sq mi)
Population (2011 census)[2]
  Town 38,785
  City 57,928
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 18300
Area code +381 10
Car plates PI
Website www.pirot.rs

Pirot (Serbian Cyrillic: Пирот) is a city located in south-eastern Serbia. According to 2011 census, the town has a total population of 38,785, while the population of the whole territory of the city was 57,928. The city is the administrative center of the Pirot District.

The city has rich geographical features, including the mountains of Stara Planina, Vlaška Planina, Belava, Suva Planina; rivers which flow through the town, including Nišava, Jerma, Rasnička Reka, Temštica and the Visočica; and four lakes, the Zavoj Lake, Berovacko Lake, Krupac Lake and Sukovo Lake.

The city has a rich culture, with notable Orthodox church buildings, including the Church of St. Petka, and the monastery of St. Georges and St. John the Theologian from the late 14th century, both of which display a fine example of medieval Serbian architecture. Pirot is known for its traditional woven carpet, the Pirot kilim (Pirotski ćilim).[3]


Aside from the city of Pirot itself, the city territory covers over 70 settlements. In 2011, the whole territory had 57,911 inhabitants: 93.8% Serbs, 3.0% Roma and 0.8% Bulgarians.


The city, which covers an area of 1,235 km2 (476.84 sq mi), has several mountains in the vicinity, including Stara Planina, Vlaška planina, Belava, and Suva Planina.

The following rivers flow through Pirot: the Nišava, Jerma, Rasnička Reka, Temštica and the Visočica. Pirot also has four lakes: Zavoj Lake, Berovacko Lake, Krupac Lake and Sukov Lake.


Prehistoric and Roman times

Thracians ruled the region prior to the Roman conquest and Romanization of Serbia in the 1st century BC. Turres, the first settlement in the vicinity, dates to the 2nd century AD.[4] At the Maglić monastery of village Blato, a 2nd-century AD stone depiction of the Thracian horseman was found in September 2008.[5] An inscription dating to 211 AD mentions the Thracian cult of Sebazianos (Sabazios); the name corresponds with the variations seen in Pautalia. The inscription was dedicated by a horion (cult society), headed by a leader (high priest); these were not Roman citizens.[6]

The first written account describing Turres was the 4th century Roman itinerary known as Tabula Peutingeriana. Its name was Latin for "towers". Firstly, it was set to enable control and defence of the main road in this part of the empire. Besides, travellers could sleep here overnight, as well as get refreshments and new horses or vehicles. In time, the settlement advanced because of the important road passing through. It was also disturbed very persistently by invasions of the Gothic tribes throughout the 4th century, as well as the Huns in the 5th century.

Eastern Roman (Byzantine) rule

According to the written accounts On Buildings by Procopius of Caesarea, writing during the reign of the emperor Justinian I (527 – 565), the emperor ordered the reconstruction of thirty fortresses in the area from Niš to Sofia, including the towers of Pirot. He also gave the detailed description of those construction works. In times when the Slavs and Avars were invading the Balkans, the settlement was named Quimedava, and was situated on the southern slope of the Sarlah Hill.

Corresponding to the archaeological investigations, the town back then, surrounded by forts and fortified walls, also included an early Christian basilica, thermae (public baths), a necropolis, and other facilities. Beside the military fortress, a civil settlement (vicus) existed on the site called Majilka. By the late 6th century and early 7th century, successive barbarian invasions broke through the Byzantine Danube frontier, and various proto-Slavic tribes (Sclaveni) began to settle in numbers across the Balkans.

The Sclaveni started raiding Byzantine towns in the 520s and are mentioned as having attacked Thrace in 549. In 577 some 100,000 Slavs poured into Thrace and Illyricum, pillaging cities and settling down.[7]

High and Late Middle Ages

Pirot Fortress dates back to the 14th century.

In the 8th century the area of Pirot became part of the First Bulgarian Empire. In the early 11th century it became part of the Theme of Sirmium, a main administrative unit of the Byzantine Empire, formed by Emperor Basil II (r. 976–1025). He also formed the Archbishopric of Ochrid, an autonomous church under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople (1018). The region was then part of the Archbishopric of Niš.

In 1182-1183, the joint Serb-Hungarian army took control of Pirot area, and Stefan Nemanja, together with Frederick Barbarossa passed through Pirot.

In 1214-1216 Serbian Grand Prince (later King) Stefan Nemanjić with the autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1217, made Pirot's region ecclesiastically part of the Serbian church. Momchil, a Bulgarian brigand leader, rebuilt the ancient Pirot Fortress sometime before 1344. Pirot was afterwards part of the Serbian Empire under Stefan Dušan (r. 1331-1355) and his son Uroš V, assigned to the Dejanović noble family. Konstantin Dejanović built the nearby Poganovo Monastery[8] during Ottoman vassalage. According to some sources, Pirot was briefly annexed by the Ottomans in 1385, alternatively it switched hands to Prince Lazar. It was subsequently part of Stefan Lazarević's Serbian Despotate; however, the region was then conquered by Ottoman Musa by 1412.[9]

There is disagreement between Serbian and Bulgarian sources whether area belonged to Serbian or Bulgarian states in the 14th century period. According to Serbian sources, in the 14th and 15th century, Pirot belonged to the several Serbian states - the Serbian Empire of Stefan Dušan, Moravian Serbia of Lazar Hrebeljanović, and Serbian Despotate of Stefan Lazarević, while according to Bulgarian historian Koledarov, the town was under Bulgarian rule in the 13th and 14th century and belonged to the Bulgarian state almost to the end of Second Bulgarian Empire. Still more, the Serbian archaeological excavations haven't found evidences for mass Serbian presence from 13th-15th century in the region, for example typical Serbian pottery from 14th-15th century.

Ottoman rule

Church of the Nativity of Christ was built through donations by the Serbian community in 1830s

The region changed hands several times between Serbian and Ottoman rulers. It was finally conquered by Ottomans in the 15th century and remained under Ottoman rule until the 19th century (December 1877). It was known as Şehirköy during Ottoman rule.

It was administratively part of to the Sanjak of Niš.[10] On April 7, 1831, it was the site of a battle in the Bosnian uprising. The Pirot Uprising was suppressed by the Ottomans in 1836. The second Niš Uprising in 1841, was also suppressed by the Ottomans. It was administratively part of the Niš Eyalet 1846–1864. With the establishment of the Bulgarian Exarchate was the center of the Nishava diocese, which includes Tran and the city of Pirot.

Modern history

Monument to fallen soldiers during the Serbian-Ottoman War (1876–1877)

19th century Austrian authors (Johann Georg von Hahn and Felix Philip Kanitz) stated that the Christian population of Pirot is Bulgarian. Kanitz claimed that these inhabitants always felt Bulgarian during Ottoman rule and did not expect inclusion in Serbia.[11][12][13] The prominent Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić wrote in a letter to the Bulgarian Nayden Gerov in 1859, that Pirot area contained a Bulgarian community.[14] The first known literary monument, influenced by Torlakian dialects is the Manuscript from Temska Monastery from 1762, in which its author, the Monk Kiril Zhivkovich from Pirot, considered his language as "simple Bulgarian".[15]

During the initial offensive of the Serbian-Ottoman War (1876–1877), Russian Commander-In-Chief of the Serbian army Mikhail Chernyayev failed to liberate Bela Palanka and Pirot.[16] During the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878), which erupted shortly thereafter, the Serbian army took the territories of Niš, Babina glava, Bela Palanka and Pirot. The Treaty of Berlin (1878) legalised Serbian rule in Pirot.[17] The 1879 Serbian regional population census registered that Pirot had a population of 76,892 people, and 11,005 households.[17] It was occupied by the Bulgarian army after Serbo-Bulgarian War between 27 November 1885 and 3 March 1886.

Following World War I, four territories, now known to the Bulgarian community as the Western Outlands, passed to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes from Bulgaria as a war indemnity, and the remains of the old border can be seen at Vlasina lake. In the Interwar Period, the Internal Western Outland Revolutionary Organisation, countering Yugoslav rule in the region, was engaged in repeated attacks against the Yugoslav police and army. From 1929 to 1941, Pirot was part of the Morava Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. During World War II Bulgaria retook the Western Outlands, as well as Pirot and Vranje. After the Second World War, these regions were returned to Yugoslavia. After Serbia's independence, these areas remained within the Serbian state.

Pirot was granted city status in February 2016.[18]


The total population of Pirot numbers 38,785. This includes 32,414 adult inhabitants, and the average age is 38.7 years (38.1 for men and 39.2 for women). The settlement has 13,737 households, the average number of members per household is 2.96. The town is predominantly populated by Serbs (91.36%), followed by Romani (4.84%), and other smaller ethnic groups.[19] and in the last three censuses, noticed an increase in the number of inhabitants.

Historical population
1971 29,298+59.1%
2002 41,290+2.5%
2011 38,785−6.1%


Notable brands of Pirot include the Pirot Kilim, Pirot opanak, Pirot cheese, and ironed sausage.




  1. "Municipalities of Serbia, 2006". Statistical Office of Serbia. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  2. "2011 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Serbia: Comparative Overview of the Number of Population in 1948, 1953, 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991, 2002 and 2011, Data by settlements" (PDF). Statistical Office of Republic Of Serbia, Belgrade. 2014. ISBN 978-86-6161-109-4. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
  3. http://www.rastko.rs/isk/mfruht-applied_art.html
  4. p. 829
  5. http://www.pressonline.rs/page/stories/sr.html?id=46190&sectionId=56&view=story
  6. Eastern cults in Moesia Inferior and Thracia (5th century BC-4th century AD)
  7. Petković, Dr Vlad. R. (1924). Stari srpski spomenici u Južnoj Srbiji (in Serbian). Projekat Rastko.
  8. p. 677
  9. Godišnjak grada Beograda. Museum of the Belgrade. 1977. p. 116. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  10. Felix Philipp Kanitz, (Das Konigreich Serbien und das Serbenvolk von der Romerzeit bis dur Gegenwart, 1904, in two volume) # "In this time (1872) they (the inhabitants of Pirot) did not presume that six years later the often damn Turkish rule in their town will be finished, and at least they did not presume that they will be include in Serbia, because they always feel that they are Bulgarians. ("Србија, земља и становништво од римског доба до краја XIX века", Друга књига, Београд 1986, p. 215)...And today (at the end of the 19th century) among the older generation there are many fondness to Bulgarians, that it led him to collision with Serbian government. Some hesitation can be noticed among the youngs..." ("Србија, земља и становништво од римског доба до краја XIX века", Друга књига, Београд 1986, c. 218; Serbia - its land and inhabitants, Belgrade 1986, p. 218)
  11. Jérôme-Adolphe Blanqui, „Voyage en Bulgarie pendant l'année 1841“ (Жером-Адолф Бланки. Пътуване из България през 1841 година. Прев. от френски Ел. Райчева, предг. Ив. Илчев. София: Колибри, 2005, 219 с. ISBN 978-954-529-367-2.) The author describes the population of the Sanjak of Niš as ethnic Bulgarians, see:
  12. Bulgarians in southwest Moravia by J. von Hahn, Illuminated by A. Teodoroff-Balan, Sofia, September 1917, Al. Paskaleff & Co. publishers, Chapter II.
  13. Кръвта вода не става, Марковски, Венко, Издател Veni Markovski, 2003 ISBN 9545284005.
  14. 1 2 Василев, В.П. Темският ръкопис – български езиков паметник от 1764 г, Paleobulgarica, IX (1986), кн. 1, с. 49-72
  15. Kanitz 1985, pp. 127-131: "Черњајев није освојио Белу Паланку и Пирот у рату 1876. Ове вароши ослобо- диће српска војска тек у другом ..."
  16. 1 2 http://www.rastko.rs/istorija/srbi-balkan/sradovanovic-demography.html
  17. "Pirot, Kikinda i Vršac dobili status grada" [Pirot, Kikinda and Vršac Granted City Status]. B92. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
  18. Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Serbia, page 82. Етничка структура након пописа 2011.
  19. "2011 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Serbia: Comparative Overview of the Number of Population in 1948, 1953, 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991, 2002 and 2011, Data by settlements", page 123.(PDF)
  20. Българскиият език през 20-ти век. Василка Радева, Издател Pensoft Publishers, 2001, ISBN 954-642-113-8, стр. 280-281.


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