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Sjenica is located in the southwestern part of central Serbia and is the seat of the Pešterske plateau. It is situated on the banks of the Grabovica, the right tributary of the Uvac, in the Sjenica valley which is surrounded by the mountainsJavor ( 1519 m ), Golija ( 1884 m ), Gilijeva ( 1449 m ) and Jadovnik ( 1723 m ), along the main road Novi Pazar – Prijepolje, and at a distance of 136 km from Užice and 320 km southwest of Belgrade.
The average altitude is 1150 – 1200 m. According to the area it covers, it is one of the biggest municipalities in Serbia. In its 1059 km there are a hundred and one places with a total population of 27, 250 inhabitants.
Sjenica is characterized by a specific type of continental climate with expressed temperature differences in the course of the year, with extremely cold and long winters. The Meteorological Station Sjenica recorded the lowest airtemperature of – 36°C on January 26, 1954.
Sjenica is situated on the transversing road Raška – Novi Pazar – Sjenica – Nova Varoš which connects the Ibar Highway with the Zlatibor Highway, and the town consequently has good traffic links with Prijepolje, Novi Pazar, Ivanjica, and Nova Varoš.
A BRIEF HISTORICAL SURVEY
Sjenica is an old settlement, which was mentioned for the first time in the year 1253 as a place on the road to Dubrovnik, where the merchants of Dubrovnik made stops and paid taxes.
On the grounds of investigations caried out so far, it has been established that the area of Sjenica was populated 3000 years ago by the Dardanians, and that they are the oldest known population of this region. They were in turn pushed out by the Autariats, an llyrian tribe that remained settlers in the region of Sjenica until the arrival of the Romans in the 3rd century.
At the beginning of the 7th century, the Slav tribe of Serbs, who were first metioned in a written document in the year 822, settled in the area of Raška, and thus also in the region of Sejnica. One of the first Serb tribal alliances was formed here, from which the medieval Serb state of Raška was constituted by the Nemanjić dynasty in the 12th century. The Nemanjić rulers occasionally stayed in certain places, there to sign charters on trade with Dubrovnik, and Duga poljana, Vrsenice, Sjenica, Caričina, are mintioned in that context. The Nemanjić rulers also had summer residences in the region of Sjenica, in Sjenica itself, in Vrsenica, Duga poljana, Gradac, and Carlčlna.
The region of Sjenica fell under Otoman Turkish rule in the year 1455, and became an integral part of Krajište Isabega Ishakovića, a region managed by Isa – Bey Ishaković, a Herzegovinian who converted to Islam and is known as the founder of Novi Pazar and Sarajevo. Sjenica is mentioned as a caravan stop on the road to Dubrovnik throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18″ centuries. During the Ottoman rule, Sjenica was a fortified town. The Turks erected a fortification they called Grad on a hill, but it was later torn down. Near the fort, there was a town with shops and houses made of logs and wooden planks.
There was a lively trade with Dubrovnik here up until the occupation of Bosnia. After the end of the 17u,century, when the Ottoman Empire began its decline, beign an important strategic place, Sjenica remained a fortified town, and it is mentioned as such by residents of Dubrovnik and byAustrians alike.
In the great Austrian – Turkish war ( 1683 – 1699 ) , the Turks were pushed deep into Macedonia, and many towns in this region were burned to the ground. Such a fate befell Sjenica as well. In the early 18th century, the tribes of Klimenti, Škrijelji, Hoti, Gega, and Šalje settled in the region of the Sjenica plateau. The Malisora who settled on Pešter were Catholics, but they converted to Islam over the subsequent years. In parallel with the settlement of the Malisora, the Montenergins also came to Pešter.
At the very beginning of the 19th century, the region of Sjenica assumed a more important political role, since Serbia maintained links with Montenegro and the Adriatic Sea through this region. As an important strategic area, it is attacked by Karadjordje in 1809, and one of the fiercest battles of the First Serbian Uprising took place precise here, in Sjenica, Javor and Suvi dol. The rebels seized Sjenica, which was handed over to Karadjordje by Hadžibeg Čavić.
After Karadjordje withdrew from these lands, the Serb population also began to pull out in large numbers, and they were replaced by settlers from Montenegro. So much of the Sjenica population moved to Serbia in the 19th century that practically none of the former residents remained.
Migrations of the Sjenica population were very expressed in the 19th and 20th centuries. Until the year 1912, Sjenica was within the Ottoman state and presented the seat of a Pashadom. The deterioration of the situation is largely a result of the decline of the economy and transit on the old roads which been the lifeline of this region. The extremely difficult economic position led to an uprising in 1903, Raonička buna, which was the final sign that the situation was untenable and that something must be done to change things.
The Serbian army liberated Sjenica in 1912. The general lack of security in these parts was further enhanced by the Austro Hungarian occupation during World War I. Such conditions, added to the previous constant migrations of the population in these land, resulted in massive migrations to Turkey as well, which continued until World War II, which in turn brought new troubles to the residents of this area.
Throughout centuries, Sjenica has been an area of migrations and it has remained as such to the present day. Its history is mostly a history of migrations.