Lonely Planet Writer

Serbia and Croatia mark 160 years since Tesla’s birth with new cultural journey

This summer marks 160 years since the birth of the great scientist and innovator Nikola Tesla, and two Balkan countries are preparing special events and tourist programmes to mark the occasion.

Tesla Museum, Belgrade.
Aviation Museum at the Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade. Image by DAVID HOLT / CC BY-SA 2.0

In Serbia a new cultural route called Tesla Ways is being launched for the first time. The journey will start in the capital Belgrade where Tesla’s personal belongings as well as the urn with his ashes are kept in the Nikola Tesla Museum. It will also include a visit to ten small hydroelectric power plants in eastern and western Serbia which are among the oldest in Europe and were built thanks to Tesla’s cooperation with Serbian scientist and friend Djordje Stanojevic. Other locations chosen for the route are in the northern province of Vojvodina: the museum of Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj (Tesla’s favourite poet) in Sremska Kamenica, and the heritage site of physicist Mihajlo Pupin (Tesla’s contemporary, friend and rival) in Idvor.

 

In Croatia, three city tourist boards have also announced a new Tesla-themed tourist route starting from 7 July. There are hopes that, in collaboration with Austria and other European countries in which Tesla lived and worked, an international cultural route can be established in the future.

Niagara Falls Canada
Niagara Falls Canada Image by LUIS ANGEL CAMARGO / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Croatian tourist route will start in the capital Zagreb with a presentation about Tesla’s life, moving on to Karlovac where he attended high school, and ending in Ozalj where a nearby power plant is also one of the oldest in Europe.

Nikola Tesla was born on 10 July 1856 as a son of a Serb Orthodox priest in the village of Smiljan in Austria-Hungary (present-day Croatia). He studied technical sciences in Graz and natural philosophy in Prague, and lived in New York City from 1884 until his death. For a while he worked with another famous inventor, Thomas Edison. Among Tesla’s inventions are the rotating magnetic field with alternating current, the induction motor and a system for production and transmission of electrical energy. The world’s first hydroelectric power plant was built on the Niagara Falls based on Tesla’s patents.