Serbian heritage includes a number of traditions and customs that originate from ancient times and old pre-Christian belief systems surviving till this day. Folklore includes art that, in the usual traditional forms, coexists among people and as a separate form of art is transferred from generation to generation. Through folklore one can reconstruct the entire spiritual and cultural heritage of a nation.

About Serbian History

Earliest known settlements History of these lands date back to the earliest known settlements. Because of its mild climate, rich soil and abundance of water, Serbian lands became the cradle of the oldest European civilizations. Explorations along Danube river banks led to revealing of the culture of Lepenski Vir, first organized settlement dating from Age of Neolith. Not so far from it, archaeologists
have discovered the culture of Starčevo, which was a direct rival to Lepenski Vir. Culture of Vinča, which remnants lay not far from Belgrade, is considered the most prominent culture of the Bronze Age. It is considered to be a base for further development of Illyrian and Triballian cultures.

Ancient Roman landmarks Thanks to its position at the crossroads between Europe and Middle East, many civilizations left their mark here during the ancient times. Certainly, one of the most respected cultures belongs to the Roman Empire. Serbia is a motherland of 18 Roman Emperors and hundreds of Roman generals. Today, long forgotten city of Viminatium reveals the full respect of magic among Romans; royal palaces in town of Sremska Mitrovica reveal that its predecessor – town of Sirmium – was one of the four Roman capitals during the Tetrarchy; Imperial Palace near town of Zaječar – Felix Romuliana – since 2007 UNESCO World Heritage, is proud to be home of Gaius Valerius Maximianus Galerius, one of the last Pagan Roman Emperors; and city of Niš is very proud of its citizen – Great Emperor and establisher of Christianity, Constantine the Great.

Medieval Serbian Kingdom The medieval Serbian Kingdom brought prosperity to these lands both in economic and cultural view. Thanks to close relations with Byzantine Empire to the East, Republic of Venice to the West and Hungarian Kingdom to the North, Serbian Kingdom was well respected as an intermediary between East and West.

Dark Ottoman Age After the fall of Serbian Kingdom under the Ottoman Empire, Serbian monasteries became guardians of Serbian legacy and national identity. During conflicts between Serbian rebels and the Ottoman army, monasteries became the refuge for many believers. Unfortunately, due to frequent fights during the ages, many monasteries were sacked and destroyed, with most of their possessions pillaged. Nowadays, six of these sanctuaries are being renovated under the protection and supervision of UNESCO.

Modern Serbian state Modern 19th century Serbian state brought Serbia back to Europe. Serbian intellectual elite came back and made renaissance among their citizens, giving new perspectives and formidable artists to European rich cultural specter.
However, the most significant change happened to the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, which by 1850 has been reformed by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić so that every sound pronounced in the Serbian language has its own corresponding letter, making with its 30 letters, Serbian alphabet the simplest one in the world.

Christmas traditions

 On Christmas Eve, the owner of the house goes out early in the morning to collect an oak branch, which is brought into the house at sunset that evening. Christmas Eve dinner is strictly in accordance with church rules on fasting.The bead, fish, honey, wine and bean stew are consumed, as well as walnuts, apples, pears, prunes, dates, other dried fruit, almonds and hazelnuts.The Nativity Fast ends on Christmas Day which Serbs celebrated on 7th January by the modern calendar. Christmas meal consists of certain ceremonial foods prepared on this day: Christmas pečenica (roasted whole pig) and česnica – a cake of wheat flour in which a coin is hidden and which is only broken by hand. Whoever finds the coin in their portion of bread will have good fortune for the next year!

 Easter traditions

Easter is a moveable feast and is celebrated after Jewish Passover, the first Sunday following the full moon which falls on the day of the spring equinox or immediately after it, but never before this. Traditionally, boiled eggs are decoratively painted on Good Friday, a day during which no other work is done, and on Easter Sunday the eggs are eaten.

Krsna Slava (Patron Saint’s Day)

Krsna Slava – the celebration of the home Patron Saint (Baptism Glory Day) – is the greatest characteristic of the national and religious life of the Serbian people. It is a beautiful and unique expression of the Orthodox faith that is deeply implanted in the Serbian Christian soul.  Krsna Slava is a holiday of the ‘little church’ – the basic Christian cell, the family – when through prayer, the household remembers their ancestors who in the past celebrated the same saint. Serbs celebrate their krsna slava with family, friends and festivities – a diverse range of food is prepared and a holiday atmosphere fills the home.

Krsna Slava  is an exclusively Serbian custom. It is the most solemn day of the year for all Serbs of the Orthodox faith and has played a role of vital importance in the history of the Serbian people. Krsna Slava is actually the celebration of the spiritual birthday of the Serbian people. Our forefathers accepted Christianity collectively by families and by tribes. In commemoration of their baptisms, each family or tribe began to celebrate in a special way to honour the saint on whose day they received the sacrament of Holy Baptism. The mother church blessed this practice and proclaimed Krsna Slava a Christian institution.

It was St. Sava who during his life in the 13th Century converted most of the Serbs from Ancient Slavic Paganism to Christianity by letting the common people choose one Christian saint instead of a pagan divinity as Patron (Protector) of the family or tribe. While Christmas and Easter are celebrated by all, Krsna Slava is the most important celebration within a family. 

Folk costumes

 Serbian folk costumes have a distinctive place in the culture and tradition of our people. Their role throughout history, as symbols of ethnic identity, is of great importance, and it is distinguished  by artistic and aesthetic values. To date, mostly the costumes from the 19th and the first decade of the 20th century, with different decorations and shapes both on female and male costumes, are preserved.

 KOLO Folk Dance

Kolo is a traditional, collective folk dance performed by dancers who are interlinked to form a chain, usually moving in a circular line holding hands with their arms down. It is performed to the accompaniment of music at private and public gatherings and involves all members of the local community, usually at the traditional autumn fairs in the countryside. Present-time cultural-artistic societies and folk dance troupes are important bearers and practitioners of the Serbian folklore & tradition.

 Culinary Melting Pot

Serbs hardly begin their day without Burek (an oriental pie with cheese or meat inside) and Yoghurt. There is not something such as Serbian food in Serbia. There is actually a Balkan cuisine, influenced by both western and eastern cultures, where certain products are considered to be of Serbian origin, such as “Kajmak”, “Gibanica”, “Proja” and “Duvan-čvarci“. However, “Sarma” – a meat and rice stuffed sauerkraut dish – is probably the most famous Balkan dish. Tastier when reheated several times, it is part of the Serbian food culture as well.

Visitors are often amazed and pleasantly surprised by the quality of the dishes served in Serbian restaurants. Fertile soil and a benevolent climate make it easy to grow peppers, plums and raspberries and to produce dairy products. Combined with favorite dishes made out of veal, pork and lamb meat, it is what Serbs call “Soul Food”.

Over the last few years Serbian wines have been making their mark on the international stage. New wines, produced in six main winemaking regions, have been receiving international recognition. Serbia’s wine growing regions lie within Europe’s ‘Wine Belt’, with latitudes that correspond with the Loire Valley in the north and Spain’s Duero region in the south.


Famous for its ball game team skills, Serbian athletes, following their inborn Dinaric race capacities and talents, are making Serbia, as main nation of the successful past “Yugoslavian school”, a sports superpower, by far exceeding its importance in other fields of activity. With players like Dalipagić, Kićanović, Divac, Djordjević, Danilović or Jokić, our basketball national team won 5 times the World-Cup, 8 times the  European Championship, and once the Olympic Gold medal.

The Serbian national teams have won many titles in water-polo, volleyball and handball as well. In the last decade, Serbia has been one of the tennis superpowers in both male and female World tennis – Novak Djoković is still World’s athlete No. 1, while Monika Seleš, Ana Ivanović and Jelena Janković had their share as No. 1 ranked among female players. Although not excelling in clubs or national teams competitions, Serbian football players are well known and esteemed worldwide. Individually, Serb athletes are successful in many sports, best example being Ivana Španović in long-jump athletics.

What is the etiquette in Serbia?

A few things to mention:

  1. Always look the other person in the eyes when you shake their hand or cheers (before drinking).
  1. Serbs kiss each other three times on the cheek when greeting, starting and ending with the right cheek.
  1. Serbs make the sign of the cross in the Orthodox way (thumb, index and middle fingers touching and from left to right after forehead and abdomen).
  1. Similar to many other languages, Serbs use a plural word for ‘you’ when speaking very formally or to elders out of respect. Verbs that follow are conjugated accordingly.
  1. It is customary in villages to have a teaspoon of homemade jam when you visit people’s houses, mostly the older generation.
  1. People tend not to knock back shots of the national alcoholic spirit Rakija, it is served in a shot glass but it is very strong so most people sip it.
  1. Remove your shoes when you enter people’s houses.
  1. SUPERSTITION: It is old school but customary to move slightly in ones’ seat or from where you are stood upon hearing grizzly or morbid news about somebody (e.g. “Filip’s mum is terminally ill” / you move slightly from the position you are sat in, lest the same fate befall you and yours…)

 A Perfect Alphabet

The Serbian language, with its Ancient Slavic roots, has a complex grammar but is famous for its simplicity in writing. Thanks to the great self-taught Serbian language and alphabet reformer Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, it is written exactly as it is spoken and the words read as they are written, one of the few World 100% phonetic alphabets.

In the first grade of Grammar school the pupils are taught to “Write as they speak and read as it is written”, a slogan that gives to all of those using the Serbian language to not only express themselves in a distinct way, but also use these simple rules to understand better and learn foreign languages, benefitting from the fact that, thanks to Karadžić’s reform matured by 1868, each sound of the Serbian language has its corresponding letter, a feature still unique in the World.

Since the creation of Yugoslavia in 1918, Serbs use the Latin alphabet as well, being in such way a unique case in Europe – a nation that equally uses two alphabets, fully acknowledging the Centuries-long geopolitical position of Serbia – halfway between East and West…

It is an adaptation of the Cyrillic alphabet for the Serbian language, and was developed since 1818 by Vuk Karadžić, a Serbian linguist. The alphabet was officially adopted in 1868.

Karadžić based his alphabet on the Cyrillic alphabet, on the simple principle of “write as you speak and read as it is written” (Serbian: Пиши као што говориш и читај како је написано). The Serbian Latin alphabet is the same as the Croatian alphabet, and was mostly developed by Ljudevit Gaj. The two alphabets are almost entirely interchangeable, with each letter in the Cyrillic having a corresponding letter or couple of letters in the Latin.

The Cyrillic alphabet is seen as being more traditional, and has official status in Serbia and the Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina), although the Latin alphabet has gained widespread usage during the course of 20th century. The Serbian Latin alphabet is more common in Montenegro. The Serbian language and Cyrillic script also have official status in Bosnia & Herzegovina at the Federal level.

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, together with the works of Krste Misirkov and Venko Markovski, were used as bases for the Macedonian alphabet.

KAFANA – Center of public life among Serbs

Half a Millennium ago the Ottoman conquerers brought two to this day very followed habits to the Serbs – smoking tobacco and drinking coffee. The first coffee houses (“kafanas”) were opened in the Islamic Orient, and this “institution” was introduced here after Belgrade surrendered to Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in 1521. The very next year the first recorded kafana in Serbia was opened somewhere in the Dorćol district in Belgrade, and there only Turkish coffee was served, while another important ingredient of kafana life was also brought here by the Ottoman Turks – tobacco pipe-smoking…

Having been conquered by oriental people, Serbia had the first “kafana” (coffee house) in Europe, an entire century before London, Marseilles, Vienna and Leipzig. Thus, Serbs have a five-centuries-old tradition of drinking black coffee and smoking tobacco, and it was a tradition inherited from the time of the Turkish rule over this region.

Unlike today’s coffee shops, nothing but black Turkish coffee was served in these first kafanas back in 1522 and later on, and with coffee guests could only get narghile (waterpipes) and chibouks.

During centuries the concept of kafana (coffee house) changed also the lifestyle in town, and people went to kafanas not only to eat and drink, furthermore, kafana became the center of all significant events – news was spread here, business deals were concluded, marriage agreements were made, in corners of kafanas governments were pulled down and new countries were created. Even Prince Miloš Obrenović returned to power for the second time upon a parliamentary decision adopted in a kafana – “The Great Brewery”. These were the places where the audience saw the first movies and theatre plays, while the first book fair was organized in a kafana.

Kafanas as meeting places of artists and writers started being opened in Belgrade since 1830. They were often named spontaneously and symbolically. The oldest one still bears a strange name – Kafana “?” (Question Mark), situated in Kralja Petra Street across the street from the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral (Saborna church).

The Skadarlija (Skadar Street) district and its kafanas are the center of Belgrade’s bohemian life for centuries. To date the most famous kafanas there are “Tri šešira” (Three hats), “Ima dana” (There are days), “Dva jelena” (Two Deers), “Dva bela goluba” (Two white pigeons), as well as “Skadarlija”.

 Culture & Art Events

A lot of cultural events, such as international Film, Theatre and Music Festivals, are annually organized in Serbia, the more famous among them being the following ones:

FEST, the Belgrade International Film Festival, born in 1970 as a venue for the screening of previous year’s best and awarded movies, has grown into becoming a very important art film event, host to many World-famous movie stars. Serbia has a rich reputation in film production and beside the Belgrade FEST, film festivals, some national and some international, are being held in several other places during the summer season, such as Palić near to Subotica, Niš, Vrnjačka Banja, Novi Sad and Sopot near Belgrade.

Belgrade International Theatre Avanguarde Festival BITEF, a meeting point of East and West theatre companies since 1967 in the then non-aligned Belgrade, is still one of the most famous ones in the World of Modern Theatre. Established East-Bloc

Thatres had here a unique chance to meet the West Avanguarde and big companies, a great opportunity to blend their artistic experiences.

Modern Music Festival EXIT since the year 2000 is one of Europe’s biggest events in this domain, thanks in part to stars performing on 20 stages in the Petrovaradin Fortress on the banks of the Danube in the city of Novi Sad. Hundreds of famous and less famous performers from all over the World gather here in the month of July, using the spaces in front or between the walls of the Austrian 18th century fortress as stages, enjoying with their audiences in the best open-air acoustics.

The Brass Festival GUČA, a village of Southern Serbia, with its roots in Serbia’s folk tradition, welcomes the country’s best brass bands. The music is complemented by folk dancing, handicrafts, traditional dishes, painters and poets, attracting many foreign visitors in more than five decades of its existence.

BEER FEST is a recently founded International Modern Music Festival, featuring more than 40 bands and individual performers, is one of Europe’s and ever-growing biggest summer parties. Set in the largest park near the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, where recently the Rolling Stones, Madonna and the Police have performed, this festival is also the sampling grounds for over 70 beer brands.

BELGRADE JAZZ FESTIVAL Jazz came to Belgrade with Dizzy Gillespie in 1955, followed by such world famous stars like Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Chick Korea, Herbie Hancock bands like the Modern Jazz Quartet, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, or such great vocals as Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughn. More than 30 Octobers the Big hall of the Belgrade Youth House is the venue for this most intriguing way of playing modern music.

International Jazz Festival NIŠVILLE has evolved into the region’s most visited jazz festival, set in an acoustic amphitheater in Niš city fortress. Wold class jazz people, such as Joss Stone, Solomon Burke, Incognito, De Phazz, Roy Hargrove, Duško Gojković, have performed here.

The BELGRADE MARATHON is Serbia’s biggest sports event that attracts the largest attendance. It comprises the 5km Fun Run, half marathon and marathon races. It is considered to be the major sports and promotional event in the country, traditionally always held in April. Belgradeans say that marathon runners occupy all the streets of the City, like no other event held here, but they are still glad to host such great world athletes.

LJUBIČEVO EQUESTRIAN GAMES in Požarevac – hosts an annual tournament featuring horse races, exhibitions and equestrian contests. Every year in the first weekend of September lovers of equestrian sport from all over Serbia and even other countries come to the Ljubičevo horse games. The program of the games includes an exhibition of horses, child vaulting, flat racing, steeplechase and harness racing.

The most important visual-arts event is October Salon in Belgrade, which has existed for more than fifty years, and is very significant for studying contemporary visual-arts in Serbia. It is a prestigious biennial exhibition of contemporary visual arts featuring dozens of local and international artists.

The Night of Museums has been the country’s most popular cultural event, proving that museums and cultural heritage are not forgotten. More than 40 towns across Serbia will throw open the doors of their cultural institutions, museums, galleries and exhibition spaces, attracting crowds with special events. The epicenter is of course in Belgrade which, in 2005, joined more than 120 cities worldwide in hosting this unique and heavily attended cultural spectacle.

Several GRAPE-GATHERING FESTIVALS are annually held all over the six wine-making areas of Serbia, an ever-growing phenomenon that righteously follows the rise of the quality of the manufactured, not any more industrially made wines. These venues are becoming the most enjoyable celebrations, and not only among the wine connoisseurs.

NIKOLA TESLA – Inventor of the 20th Century

Most important inventions:

  1. Rotating magnetic fields (electromagnetic induction) – Tesla Coil – alternated current electric power (AC)
  1. Electric engine
  1. Frequency radio
  1. Florescent and neon lights
  1. Digital wireless technology
  1. Speedometer
  1. Automobile ignition system
  1. Basics behind radar and electron microscope
  • 272 patents issued to Tesla in 25 countries paved the way for computers, cell phones, television, as well as the beginnings of the X-ray machine.
  • Unlike D.C, the voltage of A.C. can be stepped up with a transformer at the generating station, and then it can be transmitted over long distances. Then, the voltage can be stepped down to safe, usable levels for households. The use of A.C. equipment at the huge new Niagara Falls power facility marked a new era of A.C.
  • T – ‘Tesla’ is a unit to measure magnetic flux.

Rulers of medieval Serbian states

  • Vlastimirović Dynasty or House of Vlastimirović(i) (ca. 640 – ca. 950)
    • Unknown archont/knez (prince), died in 680, leads Serbs to the Balkans during the reign of Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610-641),
    • Svevlad (different dynasty?), ruled up to 660
    • Selimir (different dynasty?), ruled 679-680
    • Vladin, ruled up to 700
    • Ratimir, ruled until 730
    • Knez Višeslav (great grandson of unknown archont/knez who died in 680), around 780
    • Knez Radoslav (son of Višeslav)
    • Knez Prosigoj (son of Radoslav)
    • Knez Vlastimir (son of Prosigoj) ruled around 850 or only up to 825 according to some, founder of Vlastimirović dynasty. Vlastimir had three sons and one daughter. His daughter married knez Krajina, son of Beloje, župan of Travunija (Trabounia). Each son had his own domain, but Mutimir the eldest was the supreme ruler, his two brothers being subjugated (vassals) to him. The brothers successfully fought off a Bulgar onslaught by khan Boris in 852. Later, the two youngest brother rebelled against Mutimir who as a punishment let Bulgar khan Boris subjugate them.
    • Knez Mutimir ruled from the second half of 9th century to his death in 891 or 892
    • Strojimir (vassal to elder brother Mutimir, later under Bulgar khan Boris)
    • Gojnik (vassal to brother Mutimir, later under khan Boris)
    • Knez Pribislav (son of Mutimir), born latest 867, ruled 891/2-892/3
    • Bran (Boren) (younger brother of Pribislav, son of Mutimir), born by 867, pretender to the thron 895/6
    • Stefan (youngest brother of Pribislav and Bran, son of Mutimir), born ca. 870
    • Knez Petar Gojniković (son of Gojnik, grandson of Vlastimir), born ca. 870, ruled 892/3-917/8, captured by Buglars, died as their prisonner
    • Knez Pavle Branović (son of Bran/Boren, grandson of Mutimir), ruled 917/8-921, brought to the throne by the Bulgars, brought down by Byzantines
    • Knez Zaharije Pribisavljević (son of Pribislav, grandson of Mutimir), ruled 921-924 (brought to the throne by the Byzantines, removed by the Bulgars)
    • 924-927 Serb throne held by Bulgars, period of Bulgar rule
    • Knez/Župan Časlav Klonimirović (son of Klonimir, grandson of Strojimir), ruled 927/8-ca. 950: Liberated the central Serbian tribes from Bulgarian empire.

    950-1050 Byzantine rule

  • Vojisavljević Dynasty or House of Vojislavljević (10501160)
    • Grand Duke (possibly even king?) Mihajlo of Zeta (Michael) (1050/1155-1080), born after 1042: maintained Serb independence from Byzantine empire. Possibly received the title of king (and crown) from Pope Gregory VII though it is still an issue of debate.
    • King Konstantin Bodin, son of Mihajlo, ruled 1180-1101
    • King Dobroslav, younger brother of Konstantin Bodin
    • King Đorđe, son of Konstantin
  • Nemanjić Dynasty or House of Nemanjić (1171-1371)
    • Uroš, Duke of Rassa from about 1120
    • Duke Tihomir (ca 1166-1167)
    • joint rule of Tihomir, Stefan Nemanja (son of Uros), Stracimir and Miroslav (ca 1168-1171)
    • Duke Vukan, brother of Nemanja, ruled the coastal regions of cities Antivari (Bar) and Cattaro (Kotor)
    • Grand Duke Stefan Nemanja also Stefan I, Nemanja (ca 1171-1196), son of Zupan Uroš
    • King Stefan First-Crowned (Prvovenčani) also Stefan II, Nemanja (1196- 1217 or 1218), eldest son of Stefan Nemanja
    • King Stefan Radoslav (1217 or 1218 – 1234)
    • King Stefan Vladislav (1234 – 1243)
    • King Stefan Uroš I (1243 – 1276)
    • King Stefan Dragutin (1276 – 1282)
    • King Stefan (Uroš II) Milutin (1282 – 1321)
    • King Stefan (Uroš III) Dečanski (1321 – 1331)
    • King Stefan (Uroš IV) Dušan (1331 – 1355)
    • Self-proclaimed Tzar in 1346.
    • Tzar Stefan Uroš V (1355 – 1371)
  • House of Lazarević (13711427)
    • Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović (1371-1389)
    • Prince Stefan Lazarevic (1389-1427) Despot (1402)
  • House of Branković (14271459)
    • Despot Djuradj Branković (1427-1456)
    • Despot Lazar Branković (1456-1458)
    • Despot Stefan Branković (1458-1459)
    • Despot Stefan Tomašević (1459) King of Bosnia (1461-1463)

     Rulers of modern Serbian states

  • House of Obrenović (18151842, 18581903)
    • Prince Miloš Obrenović (1815-1839, 1858-1860)
    • Prince Milan I (III) (June 13 1839 – July 9 1839)
    • Prince Michael (Mihailo) (July 9 1839 – September 6 1842, September 26 1860 – July 10 1868)
    • Prince Milan II (IV) (July 11 1868 – Match 6 1889) King since February 22 1882
    • King Alexander Obrenović (1889-1903)
  • House of Karageorgević (18421858, 19031945)
    • Prince Alexander (I) Karageorgević (September 14 1842 – December 23 1858)
    • King Peter I (July 2 1903 – November 30 1918)

In 1918, the Kingdom of Serbia, as winner in the Great War and as a Southern Slavic sort of Piedmont, managed at the peace talks in Paris to unify all nations and ethnic groups living on the territory once held by foreign Empires into the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Later (1929) that state changed name into Kingdom of Yugoslavia (i.e. Kingdom of Southern Slavs). In that period (between two world wars) the country was a parliamentary monarchy nominally ruled by the Karageorgević dynasty, by King Alexander I (1918-1934) and King Peter II (1941).

After WW2 and the socialist revolution, the country was reformed as a socialist federation of six Republics (SFRY), ruled by Marshal Josip Broz Tito. After his death in 1980, the federation started a process of dissolution, which finished in a series of civil wars in the early 1990s. Through the 1990s, Serbia and Montenegro remained together as Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (also called rump Yugoslavia), which in 2003 was restructured into a loose confederation called State Union Serbia and Montenegro. Since 2006, after a Referendum held in Montenegro, Serbia came back to almost the same situation as a hundred years ago – being an independent state. Currently, the Republic of Serbia is a parliamentary democracy.

Roman emperors born in present-day Serbia

18 Roman Emperors were born on the territory occupied today by the Republic of Serbia. At the time, this area was divided among several Roman provinces, mostly including Pannonia Secunda and Moesia Superior and inhabited by various Celtic (Scordisci), Illyrian (Autariates, Breuci, Daesitiates, Dardanii) and Thracian (Moesi, Singi, Triballi) tribes. There were 17 emperors and 1 Caesar, born mostly in or near the important Roman cities of Sirmium, Felix Romuliana and Naissus and measured by the modern international borders, it is the second largest number of Roman emperors from one country, after Italy itself. In chronological order they were:

  1. Trajan Decius – born in ca. 201 in Budalia, Pannonia Inferior (modern Martinci, Syrmia, Vojvodina). Emperor from 249 to June 251. Killed in 251 in the Battle of Abrittus (modern Razgrad, Bulgaria).
  2. Herennius Etruscus – born in ca. 227, near Sirmium, Pannonia (modern Sremska Mitrovica, Syrmia, Vojvodina). Son of Trajan Decius, co-emperor with his father from early 251 to June 251. Killed, together with his father, in the Battle of Abrittus.
  3. Hostilian – born in Sirmium, Illyricum. Son of Trajan Decius, emperor in 251, opposed by Trebonianus Gallus. Died of plague in Rome, in 251. One of only 13 Roman Emperors who died of natural causes.
  4. Claudius II Gothicus – born in Sirmium, Pannonia Inferior, on May 10, 213. Emperor from September 268 to January 270. Died of plague in Rome, in January 270.
  5. Aurelian – born in Sirmium, Dacia Ripensis, on 9 September, 214. Emperor from September 270 to September 275. Proclaimed by the legions in Sirmium, opposed by Quintillus whom he defeted and became sole emperor. Murdered in September 275 in Caenophrurium, Thrace (modern Çorlu, Turkey).
  6. Probus – born in Sirmium, Pannonia, ca. 232. Emperor from 276 to October 282. Proclaimed by the soldier, opposed by Florianus, who was murdered, leaving Probus as the sole emperor. Murdered by the soldiers in October 282 in Sirmium.
  7. Maximian – born in Sirmium in ca. 250. Three times emperor: from April 1, 286 to May 1, 305, jointly with Diocletian, opposing emperor from 306 to November 11, 308, jointly with Maxentius, and opposing emperor in 310. Committed suicide in ca. July 310 in Massilia (modern Marseilles, France).
  8. Constantius I Chlorus – born on March 31, 250 in Naissus (modern Niš). Emperor of the Western Roman Empire from May 1, 305 to July 25, 306. Died on July 25, 306 in Eboracum, Britannia (modern York, Great Britain).
  9. Galerius – born ca. 250 in Felix Romuliana (modern Gamzigrad). Emperor from May 1, 305 to May 5, 311. Died on May 5, 311 of bowel cancer or gangrene.
  10. Maximinus Daia – born on November 20, 270 in Felix Romuliana. Emperor from May 1, 310 to April 30, 312, opposed by Licinius. Committed suicide in August 313 in Tarsus, Cilicia (modern Tarsus, Turkey).
  11. Severus II – born in Illyricum. Emperor from 306 to April 307, opposed by Constantine I, Maxentius and Maximian. Executed on September 16, 307 in Tres Tabernae (near modern Cisterna di Latina, Italy).
  12. Constantine I – born on February 27, 272 in Naissus. Emperor from July 25, 306 to May 22, 337. Elevated Christianity to the state level religion, united Roman Empire, founded Constantinople. Died on May 22, 337 in Nicomedia (modern İzmit, Turkey).
  13. Licinius – born ca. 250 in Felix Romuliana. Three times emperor: of the Western Roman Empore from November 11, 308 to September 18, 324 (jointly with Galerius, 308-311, Maximinus, 311-313 and Constantine I, 313-324. Abdicated, murdered by Constantine I in 325 in Thessalonica (modern Salonika, Greece).
  14. Constantius II – born August 7, 317 in Sirmium. Emperor from 337 to October 5, 361, jointly with Constans and Constantine II. Died of fever on October 5, 361, near Tarsus.
  15. Vetranio – born in Moesia (modern Central Serbia). As caesar, co-ruler of Constantius II from March 1 to December 25, 350. Committed suicide in ca. 360.
  16. Jovian – born in 331 in Singidunum (modern Belgrade, capital of Serbia; the only emperor born here). Emperor from June 27, 363 to February 17, 364. Suffocated by accident on February 17, 364 near Nicaea, Bithynia (modern İznik,Turkey).
  17. Gratian – born on April 18, 359 in Sirmium, Pannonia. Emperor from August 4, 367 to August 25, 383, jointly with Valentinian I to 375, then with Valentinian II. Murdered by the rebels on August 25, 383 in Lugdunum, Gaul (modern Lyon, France).
  18. Constantius III – born in Naissus. Western Roman Emperor from February 8 to September 2, 421, jointly with Honorius. Died suddenly on September 2, 421.

Yet another emperor was born in Serbia – Justinian I (ruled 527-565) – who was head of the Byzantine Empire with its capital Constantinople, more than a 100 years after Constantine founded the Eastern Rome on the Bosphorus strait between Europe and Asia. As a convinced Christian, Justinian founded the Hagia Sophia Great Church in his capital, the world’s largest building and an engineering marvel of its time. He also had tried to military re-unite the once unified Roman Empire. This achievement was not meant to survive him, so that Ravenna in Italy is the most important witness of this great attempt gone wrong.