Niš Fortress was built in the early 18th century by the Turks, on the right bank of the Nišava river, in the very centre of the city. It was constructed upon Roman and mediaeval foundations. Its shape is that of an irregular polygon, with sides of varying lengths. It was built of stone extracted from the nearby Hum quarry, though monuments, sarcophagi and other building materials from earlier periods were used.
It has four large gates: the Stambol (Istanbul), Belgrade, Vidin and Great Gate, the latter providing access to the river. All the gates are well-preserved even today. The fortress was encircled by a large moat which, when needed, was filled with water from the Nišava.
Within the fortress there was a settlement with shops, a place of worship, barracks and other structures for military use. All that remains of these today is a number of gunpowder stores, the Bali-beg mosque from the 16th century and an arched structure. Accompanying the fortress is a hamam (Turkish bath), built in the 15th century and one of the oldest examples of non-religious architecture from the beginning of Turkish rule. The fortress bears recognisable features of Arabic architecture.
Due to its primarily strategic nature, the fortress remained under Turkish control until 1877, when it passed into Serbian hands.
Niš Fortress is a cultural property of great importance, today a venue for frequent cultural and artistic events.