Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God (Ružica Church), Belgrade

Located in the eastern lower level of the Belgrade Fortress, in a building which in the 18th century originally served as a gunpowder store, is the Ružica Church. When the fortress passed into Serbian hands in 1867-69 it was converted into an army church called the Ružica (Rose Church). An older church of the same name stood here during the time of Despot Stefan Lazarević, but was demolished by the Turks during the capture of Belgrade in 1521.

The Rose Church is built of stone and, together with its steeple, is pressed up against the Fortress itself. Since 1924, the side (main) entrance to the church has been watched by the “bronze guard” – to the right a mediaeval knight of Emperor Dušan, to the left a Serbian infantryman from the First World War.

In 1925, after major damage sustained after the First World War, the church was rebuilt from donations by women of Belgrade whose family members had taken part in the liberation struggle. The carved iconostasis was created by Kosta Todorović, and its icons painted by hieromonk Rafailo Momčilović.

The entire western side of the nave is taken up by a composition depicting Christ’s famous Sermon on the Mount, his seated listeners including army chaplain Petar Trbojević, King Aleksandar I and Queen Marija Karađorđević, as well as King Petar I and Russian King Nikolay II Romanov. This fresco was painted by famous Russian academy artist Andrei Bicenko.

The interior boasts three chandeliers (polyelei) made of spent cartridges, cannon ammunition, officers’ swords and the pistols of soldiers from the Macedonian (Thessaloniki) Front. This is probably what earned it a place on the Atlas Obscura site as one of the world’s unusual locations.