Sales of garlic are booming in western Serbia after the local council issued a public health warning that a vampire was on the loose.
The warning came after an old ruined mill said to once have been the home of the country’s most famous monster in the form of vampire Sava Savanovic collapsed. Sava Savanović (Serbian Cyrillic: Сава Савановић) is one of the most famous vampires in Serbian folklore.
The watermill was bought by the local Jagodic family, and they were too scared to use it as a mill – but discovered it was a goldmine when they started advertising for tourists to come and visit it – always during the day.
Sava Savanovic was said to have lived in the old watermill on the Rogacica river, at Zarozje village in the municipality of Bajina Basta where he drank the blood of anybody that came to mill their grain.
But the family were worried about carrying out building work on the mill because they were scared they might disturb the vampire or unleash his wrath if his home was messed around with – and now the property has collapsed through lack of repair.
But for locals it has sparked rumours that the vampire is now free once again.
Local mayor Miodrag Vujetic admitted: “People are worried, everybody knows the legend of this vampire and the thought that he is now homeless and looking for somewhere else and possibly other victims is terrifying people. We are all frightened.”
He added that it was all very well for people who didn’t live in the area to laugh at their fears but he said nobody in the region was in any doubt that vampires do exist.
He confirmed that the local council had advised all villagers to put garlic on their doors and windows to protect them from the vampire as it was well known they can’t stand the smell.
He added: “We have also reminded them to put a Holy cross in every room in the house.”
Villagers who cashed in catering to tourists fascinated by the legend of Sava Savanovic say they now wish they had left the place well alone.
Sava Savanović was said to have lived in an old watermill on the Rogačica river, at Zarožje village in the municipality of Bajina Bašta. It was said that he killed and drank the blood of the millers when they came to mill their grains. Although he is usually said to have been the first Serbian vampire, there are claims that he was pre-dated in Serbian folklore by Petar Blagojević from Veliko Gradište, who died in 1724. Petar Blagojević and the affair surrounding him came to European attention at the time, under the name Peter Plogojowitz, and represented one of the earliest examples of vampire hysteria.
For the last several decades the watermill associated with Savanović has been owned by the Jagodić family, and is usually called “Jagodića vodenica” (Jagodići’s watermill) . It was functional until late 1950s when it was closed, later becoming a tourist site along with other attractions in Valjevo and nearby villages .
Sava Savanović appears in the story Posle devedeset godina (After Ninety Years), written by the Serbian realist writer Milovan Glišić, and in the horror film Leptirica inspired by the story. He also appears in the novel Strah i njegov sluga (Fear and His Servant) written by Mirjana Novaković.