Leskovac, Jablanica District, Southern and Eastern, Serbia

Early period | Ottoman rule | From Turkish kasaba to Serbia's Little Manchester | World War I and Bulgarian Occupation | The "Golden Age" of Leskovac | World War II and Allied bombing | Socialist era | 21st Century | Geography | Economy | Events | Culture : Heritage | Sport | Transport | Environment

🇷🇸 Leskovac (Лесковац) is a city and the administrative centre of the Jablanica District in southern Serbia.

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Early period Archeological findings on Hisar Hill, located at the rim of Leskovac valley between the Jablanica and  Veternica rivers, have established continual habitation between the Bronze Age until the 19th century. Hisar served as a fortification for many centuries and its surrounding plateau are abundant in Iron Age pottery largely associated with the Brnjica culture. Other archeological findings associated with the Illyrians, Thracians, Dacians, Greeks, Romans and Celts lay within Leskovac's surrounds. The Roman Empire conquered the area in the 1st century BC and would remain the dominant power until Slavic invasion and settlement in the late 6th and early 7th centuries, with the Serbs solidifying their presence.

The area Glubočica, later Dubočica and a synonym for Leskovac was first mentioned in the 12th century as lands bestowed upon the Nemanjić dynasty by Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos. The settlement of Leskovac per se was first mentioned by name in 1348 as an endowment by Serbian Emperor Dušan the Mighty to the Hilendar Monastery. The vicinity of modern-day Leskovac was contested territory during a series of conflicts fought between the Bulgarian Empire and medieval Serbian states between the 9th and 14th centuries.

The Battle of Dubočica took place on September 24, 1454, between the Serbian Despotate and the invading Ottoman Empire, and ended in a Serbian victory. Brankovic's Serbia was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire during the 1st half of the 15th century and was repeatedly invaded, eventually becoming part of the Ottoman state.

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Ottoman rule Leskovac was annexed by the Ottomans in 1454 and allotted to the Rumelia Eyalet. The Nahija of Dubocica (later Leskovac) became part of Kruševac Sanjak with Leskovac possessing one of six kadiluks. During Ottoman rule Leskovac was known in Turkish as Leskovçe, or more commonly Hisar (Turkish translation; fortress). The conquest in time brought Ottoman culture to Leskovac, influencing architecture, cuisine, customs, dress and language. Endowments by the ruling Ottoman aristocracy which financed the construction of mosques, tekije, madrasa, meter and Turkish baths marked the area. During this period Leskovac was regarded for its quality horse tack, tanning, smithing and weaving. The townsfolk worked as craftsman, merchants and peri-urban farmers, residing in separate Serbian Orthodox and Muslim mahallah's whilst affluent Muslim families held prominent real estate and owned farmland. This cosmopolitan milieu was supplemented by officials, clergy, sipahi, and soldiers interlaced with Jewish, Greek, Vlach, Albanian and Ragusan traders. Leskovac was known in the wider region for its annual 15-day long fair.

Leskovac was severely damaged by fire in 1595 and again in 1690. In the Ottoman-Austrian War the  towns Serbs overwhelmingly sided with Habsburg forces on arrival in 1689. Following the failed uprising many Serbs migrated north after the Ottomans recaptured Leskovac, razing the Serbian quarters as reprisals for collaboration. In 1790 Sultan Selim III administrative reforms granted Leskovac the seat of its own Eyalet governed by Şehsuvar Abdi Pasha, who was succeeded by his son Ismail Pasha in 1830, until the Leskovac Eyalet was annexed to the Niš Eyalet in 1839. The Serbian population of Leskovac (along with other south Serbian towns and villages) took part in the failed rebellion of 1841. Before the Serbian–Turkish Wars (1876–1878), the county of Leskovac had a significant Muslim population, almost exclusively Albanian, which comprised one-third of its overall population. In 1873, the town had 2,500 Serbian houses and 1,000 Muslim houses. The Muslims in the town were Albanian- and Turkish-speaking. In the villages of Leskovac, Albanians formed almost the entire Muslim population. A part of these Albanians belonged to tribes like the Krasniqi, Sopi, Gashi and Berisha. Historian Miloš Jagodić has estimated that of ~17,033 Muslims who lived in the Leskovac county before the war, about 16,976 were Albanians who were later expelled. These estimates are corroborated in contemporary sources like the records of Austrian diplomat Johann Georg von Hahn. J. G. H. cites an Ottoman report which claimed that 1,680 Albanians could be conscripted in case of war. Albanians in Leskovac during fought independently of the Ottoman army in small village self-defense units. In the war almost the entire Muslim civilian population of Leskovac was expelled and the advancing Serbian Army and chetas entered the town on December 24, 1877. There were 2,122 Albanian abandoned households altogether within the Leskovac county's villages. Of the about 5,000 Muslims who had previously lived in the town, 120 were still living there in 1879 in the first post-war population count. The rest had left as refugees and most settled in cities like Mitrovica, Prizren and Kumanovo in Kosovo Vilayet.

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From Turkish kasaba to Serbia's Little Manchester Leskovac became part of Serbia which received full international recognition following the Treaty of Berlin in 1878. Before the war Leskovac was part of a network of textile industry hubs from the Black Sea to the central Balkans and collaborated closely with Bulgarian textile industry. Products from Leskovac were exported duty-free to Bulgaria which exported machinery to Serbia. Independence initially had a negative impact though trade barriers, tariffs and open hostilities between Serbia and Bulgaria necessitated the acquisition and development of technology for rope and industrial hemp processing. By the mid-1880s business development, particularly the textile sector enabled Leskovac to become the third largest urban area after Belgrade and Niš at the time. The establishment of a railway line linking Leskovac with Belgrade, Skopje and Thessaloniki in 1886 also significantly contributed to the development of the town. A vocational textile school opened 1890 and in 1903 the second hydroelectric power plant in Serbia was built on the nearby Vučjanka River.

Due to the towns burgeoning industriousness in the late 19th c. Leskovac became popularity nicknamed Serbia's "Little Manchester" (Serbian Cyrillic: "Мали Манчестер") in honor of Manchester, England, a powerhouse of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. The growing customs dispute with Austria-Hungary following the May Coup precipitated protectionism throughout the 1900s which served to nourish the local economy.

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World War I and Bulgarian Occupation Following the Serbian campaign of 1915 Leskovac fell within the Bulgarian occupational zone. This period was marked by harsh repression with attempts at Bulgarisation of the local inhabitants. Numerous crimes were committed on the Leskovac citizenry with 2,000-4,000 victims being executed and a great many more massacred in the surrounding region. During the occupation Leskovac was also adversely affected by a typhus epidemic and widespread malnutrition. Bulgaria capitulation to the Entente on 30 September 1918, and Leskovac was liberated on 7 October 1918 in an offensive led by Field Marshal Petar Bojović's 1st Serbian Corps, which repelled the Austro-Hungarian 9th and German 11th Divisions. Cheering crowds gathered to welcome the Serbian Army's Dinarska and Dunavska divisions as they entered the city accompanied by French cavalry units.

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The "Golden Age" of Leskovac Following the war Leskovac continued its fast economic and social transformation. The townsfolk practised a cultural medley of both Oriental and European habits, whilst the social fabric was dominated by affluent, often competing industrialists families and greater social disparity within the community. Industrial development facilitated trade union agitation amongst an emerging urban working-class. In August 1920 Leskovac became one of the first municipalities to elect the Communist Party. Despite its victory the party was quickly suppressed by the authorities.

Despite the rise of Leskovac as a regional manufacturing centre the town still lacked basic infrastructure during the interwar period such as a running water supply, sewerage system, paved streets (with only three asphaltedin 1938) and a permanent marketplace. Leskovac experienced a significant influx of largely peasant workers leading to poor housing conditions with many affected by squalor, alcoholism, a high mortality rate and labour exploitation. From 1929 to 1941, Leskovac was part of the Vardar Banovina of the renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

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World War II and Allied bombing During the capitulation of Yugoslavia in the April War Leskovac was occupied by the Germans on April 12, 1941. Despite several attempts at assassination and sabotage the town remained relatively dosile throughout the Nedić administration, with the exception of the Arapova Dolina massacre of 310 mostly Romani civilians. Pockets of Partisan insurgency remain limited to the surrounding countryside which began experiencing noteworthy military engagements during the Battle of Serbia with the July–August 1944 Toplica-Jablanica Operation.

On September 6, 1944, Leskovac was targeted in a catastrophic Allied bombing campaign which left much of the town heavily damaged with approximately 2,500-4,000 casualties and a total of 1,840 demolished or damaged residential buildings and factories. The bombing also caused significant damage to infrastructure and historical landmarks. Leskovac fell to the 47th Serbian Division of the National Liberation Army (Partisans) on October 11, 1944, following a German withdrawal during the Niš Operation. The new Communist authorities proceeded to purge the town of political and ideological opponents, summarily executing 707 people.

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Socialist era The city continued to be a major textile centre until the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, but due to the economic isolation of Serbia resulting from ethnic wars, its remote location, and failure to privatize the mills, the industry collapsed resulting in depression of the economy in the area.

On 12 April 1999, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia a bridge near Leskovac (Grdelička klisura) was destroyed by a NATO aircraft as a passenger train was crossing. The act was highly condemned with the bridge being struck twice (the train itself having been bombed from the first attack).

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21st Century Contemporary Leskovac has become synonymous with Serbian culinary culture, particularly the national dishes of pljeskavica and ćevapi. The annual Roštiljijada grilled meat barbecue festival held since 1989 is the cities biggest tourist attraction drawing in thousands of visitors from both Serbia and abroad.

The once thriving textile industry of Leskovac has all but collapsed with only a small number of businesses still in operation. The effects of globalisation coupled with political sanctions have led to significant economic decline. Local businesses were sluggish in transitioning from a predominantly state capitalist economy towards greater deregulation and privatisation during the 2000s. Despite a modest increase in mostly foreign capital enterprise with some government support issues of corruption, high unemployment, ageing workforce and community, unreported employment, and population decline still persist.

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Geography Leskovac is situated in the heart of the vast and fertile valley of Leskovac (50 km (31 mi) long and 45 km (28 mi) wide), the small Veternica river, at the foot of Hisar, in the central part of the Leskovac valley. Leskovac lies at an altitude of 228 meters, in a basin that covers 2,250 km² (869 sq mi). Around the valley are mountains Radan and Pasjača the west, Kukavica and Čemernik in the south and Babička Gora, Seličevica and Suva Planina to the east.

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Economy The economy of Leskovac is diverse and Its main industry is light industry such as textile, household commodities and medical industries. Leskovac has a lead and zinc mine called "Leskovac Lece".

Among the economic activities in Leskovac are: Agriculture, forestry and fishing; Mining and quarrying; Manufacturing; Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply; Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities; Construction; Wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; Transportation and storage; Accommodation and food services; Information and communication; Financial and insurance activities; Real estate activities; Professional, scientific and technical activities; Administrative and support service activities; Public administration and defence; compulsory social security; Education; Human health and social work activities; Arts, entertainment and recreation; Other service activities; Individual agricultural workers.

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Events Roštiljijada Roštiljijada (Barbecue week) is a grilled meat festival that has been organized in Leskovac for many years and takes place annually at the beginning of September. During the event, the main boulevard is closed for traffic for five days, and food stands are put up along the streets. The event brings visitors from all over Serbia as well as tourists. According to the TOL (Tourism Organization of Leskovac) in 2013, over 700,000 people visited the event. The organisers hold competitions, such as making the biggest burger, the Pljeskavica. The festival is the highlight of the season in Leskovac.

International Carnival In 2009 Leskovac officially became an International Carnival city, admitted by The Association of European Carnival cities, which has over 50 members from Europe and America. The Leskovac Carnival is held at a time of Roštiljijada festival. Around 1200 people take part in the carnival, of which one-third part from abroad. The City Government considered separating this event in 2010. as a special tourist event which will be introduced as a special offer of the city.

Theater Marathon Theater Marathon takes place every year in November and lasts 9 days. It runs performances of National Theaters from all over Serbia. This event takes place in the National Theater in Leskovac.

Leskovac International Film Festival The first Leskovac International film festival was held in 2008. The idea of the film in the city is not that new. In 1996, a group of enthusiasts, with chairman Rade Jovic, organized the Festival which were shown films of domestic production. Today, many years later, Leskovac host an International Film Festival. The Festival presents awards in 3 categories: • "Golden hazelnuts" - Best Director • "Hazelnut leaf" - critics awards • "Vox populi" - Audience Award.

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Culture: Heritage • Monastery of John the Baptist, Leskovac • Monastery of the Presentation of the Holy Mother of God, Leskovac • Rudare Monastery • Čukljenik Monastery • Leskovac Cathedral • Odžaklija Church • Memorial Park to the Revolution (1971) by famed Yugoslav architect Bogdan Bogdanović

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Sport Leskovac has a proud sporting history and is home to several teams, including football club's GFK Dubočica, FK Sloga Leskovac, basketball team KK Zdravlje, and handball team RK Dubočica 54.

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Transport Leskovac is a traffic junction. International trains traveling from Europe to Skopje, Thessalonica and Athens pass through this city. Nineteen trains stop in Leskovac every day. The railway came to Leskovac in 1886. Leskovac today has one of the newest and most modern railway stations in Serbia.

Bus traffic is also very well developed, bearing in mind that Leskovac has been criss-crossed with roads. The most important is the E75 road which connects the borders of Hungary and North Macedonia. Regional roads lead from Leskovac to Priština, Pirot and Bosilegrad. The distance from Leskovac to Niš is 45, to Belgrade 280, and to Sofia 155 km (96 miles).

Leskovac has a regional airport, which is commonly used for sporting and agricultural flights. Also in summer the airport is used for air taxi. The nearest international airport is Niš Constantine the Great Airport located 45 km (28 mi) north of the city.

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Environment Leskovac was the first city in Serbia which had a sanitary landfill. Željkovac depot spreads over 80 hectares and is made by all European standards. In the landfill there is a centre for atmospheric water purification, centre for the selection and disposal systems for the detection of all types of pollution. Company Por Werner and Weber for Serbia, began construction of the centre for collecting and recycling waste, and is the first city in the Balkans, where starting this job.

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Leskovac, Jablanica District, Southern and Eastern, Serbia 
<b>Leskovac, Jablanica District, Southern and Eastern, Serbia</b>
Image: Almarq

Leskovac has a population of over 63,964 people. Leskovac also forms the centre of the wider Jablanica District which has a population of over 184,502 people.

To set up a UBI Lab for Leskovac see: https://www.ubilabnetwork.org Twitter: https://twitter.com/UBILabNetwork

Twin Towns, Sister Cities Leskovac has links with:

🇧🇦 Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina 🇧🇦 Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina 🇧🇬 Elin Pelin, Bulgaria 🇲🇰 Kumanovo, North Macedonia 🇧🇬 Kyustendil, Bulgaria 🇨🇳 Lanzhou, China 🇸🇮 Novo Mesto, Slovenia 🇭🇷 Pazin, Croatia 🇧🇬 Plovdiv, Bulgaria 🇽🇰 Prizren, Kosovo 🇧🇬 Silistra, Bulgaria 🇧🇪 Verviers, Belgium 🇷🇸 Zrenjanin, Serbia
Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license

Antipodal to Leskovac is: -158.05,-43

Locations Near: Leskovac 21.95,43

🇷🇸 Niš 21.91,43.32 d: 35.7  

🇷🇸 Prokuplje 21.583,43.233 d: 39.5  

🇷🇸 Vranje 21.898,42.553 d: 49.9  

🇷🇸 Pirot 22.588,43.158 d: 54.7  

🇽🇰 Gjilan 21.467,42.45 d: 72.8  

🇽🇰 Podujeva 21.2,42.917 d: 61.7  

🇷🇺 Dimitrovgrad 22.778,43.015 d: 67.3  

🇷🇸 Kruševac 21.317,43.567 d: 81.2  

🇽🇰 Pristina 21.158,42.66 d: 74.9  

🇲🇰 Kumanovo 21.716,42.136 d: 98  

Antipodal to: Leskovac -158.05,-43

🇵🇫 Papeete -149.566,-17.537 d: 17072.7  

🇹🇴 Nuku'alofa -175.216,-21.136 d: 17107.9  

🇦🇸 Pago Pago -170.701,-14.279 d: 16600.3  

🇼🇸 Apia -171.76,-13.833 d: 16516.4  

🇺🇸 Hilo -155.089,19.725 d: 13033.8  

🇺🇸 Maui -156.446,20.72 d: 12927.8  

🇺🇸 Maui County -156.617,20.868 d: 12911.8  

🇺🇸 Kahului -156.466,20.891 d: 12908.8  

🇺🇸 Wailuku -156.505,20.894 d: 12908.7  

🇺🇸 Honolulu -157.85,21.3 d: 12865.2  

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