Culture & Art

Memorial Center ‘Nikola Tesla’ in Smiljan

Memorial "Nikola Tesla" Smiljan

Exhibition in Nikola Tesla's Memorial centre

Nowadays, when you hear the name Tesla you may first think of the car company that produces electric cars! However, the name Tesla is derived from the Croatian born inventor, electrical engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla.

Nikola Tesla was born on the 10th of July in 1856 and in his birthplace, the village Smiljan in the interior of Dalmatia near the town Gospic, a thematic Memorial centre was opened in 2006 – 150 years after his birth. The location is perfect to visit on your way down (or up) the highway to your holiday destination along the Dalmatian coast. The thematic park is very well organized and consists of the newly renovated birth house of Nikola Tesla (rebuilt several times), a Serbian Orthodox church (where his father was a minister) and a multimedia centre. Furthermore, outside you can see various exhibits, one is an authentic old barn, the little stream where Nikola Tesla used to play, and for the kid’s there is a futuristic looking children’s playground.

The website of the Memorial Centre is very elaborate, has many photographs and even a page where all his patents are collected. Great for getting more detailed info about the wondrous inventions Nikola Tesla has made in his long life.

Opening hours
Summer months
March 21th  – November 1st
Tuesday – Saturday 08.00 – 19.00
Sunday 09.00 – 18.00

Winter months
November 1st – March 21th
Tuesday – Saturday 08.00 – 14.00
Sunday 10.00 – 14.00

Presentation of the test station for individual visits are held at: 10.00, 12.00, 14.00, 16.00, 18.00 and 19.00 o’clock

When using the translate function on the site, the prices are translated as well into e.g. english pounds, but the prices are in kuna’s!

Memorijalni centar „Nikola Tesla“
Smiljan 87/1, 53211 Smiljan

telephone +385 53 746 530

A bit of Nikola Tesla’s biography

Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in the small village Smiljan, Croatia, which was at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father was a priest in the Serbian Orthodox church and his mother managed the family’s farm. The older brother of Nikola, Daniel was killed in a horse riding accident, this was a big shock to the then 7 year old Nikola. After this dramatic event he reported seeing visions, this was the first sign of his lifelong mental illnesses.

Later on Nikola Tesla went on to study mathematics and physics at the Technical University of Graz in Austria and philosophy at the University of Prague in the Czech Republic. In 1882 he came up with the idea for a brushless motor with rotating electromagnets, after which he moved to Paris where he worked with the Continental Edison Company where he repaired direct current (DC) power plants. Then in 1884 he moved to live in New York in the United States of America to work as an engineer at the Thomas Edison Manhattan headquarters where he stayed for about one year.

Nikola Tesla tried to start his own ‘Tesla Electric Light Company’ with financial support from people that backed his research into alternating currents. In the years 1887 and 1888 he was granted more than 30 patents for his inventions and Nikola Tesla was invited to address the American Institute of Electrical Engineers to tell them about his inventions. George Westinghouse, an American entrepreneur and engineer who was a pioneer of the electrical industry, hired Tesla and licensed the patents for Tesla’s AC motor and gave him his own lab. Now Tesla had the finances to perform experiments but soon money ran out and Westinghouse was forced to renegotiate their contract, resulting in Nikola Tesla to have to give up royalty rights. In the following year Nikola Tesla was very productive and invented the Tesla coil – a high-voltage transformer, electric oscillators, meters and improved lights. He did experiments with X-rays and radio communication, 2 years before Marconi invented the radio. In 1891 Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse lighted the Columbian World Expostion in Chicago, and together with General Electric they installed AC generators at Niagara Falls to create the first modern power station.

However, Nikola Tesla also had a lot of misfortune in his life. His New York Laboratory burned down in 1895, destroying all his instruments and notes. After that he moved to live in Colorado Springs for two years, but in 1900 he came back to New York. The multi-millionaire J.P. Morgan financially backed Nikola Tesla so he could build a global communications network, of which the centre was a big tower at Wardenclyffe, on Long Island New York. This grand work costed much more than the funds given to Tesla, so he lost the backing of J.P. Morgan.

For decades Nikola Tesla lived in a hotel in New York where he continued working on new inventions and patents, but he never had the financial success like his rival inventor Thomas Edison. Nikola Tesla was quite an eccentric, befitting a great mind! He died in his hotel room on January 7, 1943. After his death the U.S. Supreme Court discharged four of Marconi’s key radio patents, and acknowledged Nikola Tesla’s innovations in radio.

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