Photo: Sors bona

Szalánkemén (Стари Сланкамен / Stari Slankamen) is a village which is located in Serbia, in the Vajdaság / Voivodine area, in the Szerémség / Sirmium district. It is famous for its castle and for the Battle of Szalánkemén in 1691. The village was first mentioned in 1072 as Slankemen, then in 1210 as Zoloncaman. It used to be an important crossing place of the Danube River, next to Titel. According to the Hungarian tradition, Titel was the headquarter of the Hungarian Chief Zalán.

Photo: Szeder László

Later, the place belonged to Nemanics Károly, the brother-in-law of the Hungarian king in the 13th century. Its settlement was mentioned as an oppidum in 1400-1456. (Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.) The castle of Szalánkemén was mentioned first in 1425 when King Zsigmond gave it and the village of Köplény first to István Lazarovics, then it belonged to the Serbian Despot György Brankovics. Lord Hunyadi János took it in 1451 but he returned it to the Despot during the same year.

The view from the castle (Photo: Корисник Путник)

It was the location where the army of Hunyadi attacked the Ottoman fleet which was intending to get to Nándorfehérvár / Belgrade from Vidin in 1456. Read my short article that is related to this event:

There is a Gothic-style church in the settlement which presently is dedicated to St. Miklós / Nicholas, built by György Brankovics in 1468.  Prince Corvin János, the natural son of King Matthias Corvinus owned it in 1498 but it went to the new king in 1502 as “civitas Regis Zalonkamen”, and it had a right to keep markets. Its two captains, Hédervári Ferenc and Sulyok Balázs couldn’t defend it in 1521 and it was reported to the Sultan that the “victorious troops had destroyed the forts of Berekszó, Szávaszentdemeter, Kölpény, Barics, Zimony, Szalánkemén, and Karom.” It is not clear how a certain Hungarian nobleman called Pesey could own it after this time. However, it was in the habit of gifting such lands to people that were occupied “temporarily” by the enemy.

Photo: Szeder László

The envoys of King Habsburg Ferdinand were demanding the Sultan to get back the castles of Belgrád, Sabács (Sabac), Szalánkemén, Pétervárad (Petrovaradin), and Újlak (Ilok) in 1598. The chronicler Verancsich wrote that he had taken a look at the castle of Szalánkemén in 1553 and he said there was a town surrounded by a weak wall next to the castle. He mentioned how weak and old the fort was.

Photo: Szeder László

Salamon Schweiger wrote in 1577 that there was a huge church in ruins in Szalánkemén. The Turks regarded it as a small town and it was granted the tax privilege called „hane”, and it belonged to the „nahije” district of “Szlankemen”.

Szalánkemén was the place where the army of Count Louis of Baden defeated the 1,00,000-men-strong Ottoman army on 19 August 1691. In the decisive battle, Grand Vizier Köprülü Mustafa died along with his 20,000 soldiers. It was the place where Zrínyi Ádám, Flag Bearer Lord of the Kingdom of Hungary also died, the only son of the poet-warrior Count Zrínyi Miklós (Nikola Zrinski).
Now, you can still see the remains of the old trenches of the 1691 battle around the area and the castle.

The Battle of Szalánkemén, 1691

According to data from 1702, there were three well-built gates of the town and some of its walls were still standing. It had three churches, two of them were Roman Catholic and they were totally ruined. One of them was dedicated to St. Mary, but there was a mention of a Paulinian monastery as well. The Turkish bath was still standing but the castle was in ruins.

The Battle of Szalánkemén in 1691

There was a nice church still standing in the middle of the castle, although it had no roof. Szalánkemén became part of the border after the Peace of Karlóca (Treaty of Karlowitz), and the so-called Marsigli line went through there. The famous Italian military engineer, Marsigli had even made a drawing about it where he indicated the ancient Roman ruins, too. Later, Szalánkemén was the place where the Imperial army of General Wallis was defeated by the Ottoman army on 17 July 1739.

Photo: Szeder László

Now, you can see the ruins of the old castle above the settlement and if you visit the basement of the local priest, you can see the remains of an old Turkish bath. Towards the Danube River, you can find the remains of a stone fort which may have been the lower castle built by Hunyadi János but it has never been excavated. It is hard to track down the trenches of the Battle of Szalánkemén as there are private weekend houses and gardens were built there.

Photo: Szeder László

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The monument of the battle of Szalánkemén (Photo: Sors bona)