In Smiljan, near Gospić, the birthplace of Nikola Tesla, there is a church where the great Lika genius was baptized in 1856.
The Orthodox Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul was built in 1765. It is located right next to Tesla’s birthplace because Tesla grew up in a parish family, his father Milutin was an Orthodox priest and served in Smiljan during those years.
As Tesla was a sickly and weak child at birth, fearing that he would not survive, his father had him baptized the very next day. The ceremony was performed by Toma Oklobdžija, and Milutin’s friend, the royal captain of the Austrian navy, Jovan Drenovac, was registered as the child’s godfather.
The Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Smiljan was destroyed during the Second World War. On the foundations of the old church, a new church was built in 1986 with smaller dimensions and a changed appearance of the bell tower, and during the Homeland War it was partially damaged and looted.
On the 150th anniversary of Tesla’s birth, on July 10, 2006, Tesla’s restored birthplace and church became part of the newly opened “Nikola Tesla” Memorial Center.
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