The central Balkans have long been a meeting place for diverse cultures, trading caravans and armies on the march to war. Territory had to be defended if tribes and peoples were to survive. Witness to these events are the remains of fortifications, which reflect the development of European military architecture from ancient times almost to the present day.
Because of the geographic location of the Danube valley, the Roman and Ottoman empires built a great many fortifications along the banks of the river – the only places secure enough for life and trade to develop. The defence of these territories was at this time a question of survival.
On the “Fortresses on the Danube” cultural route, navigating downriver from Bačka to Đerdap, the remains can be seen, preserved to a greater or lesser extent, of the most magnificent fortresses in Serbia.
Petrovaradin Fortress was built next to Novi Sad, on the right bank of the Danube, on the site of the Roman fortress of Cusum and the mediaeval Petrikon, the remains of which were demolished in 1690. It was builtbetween 1692 and 1780 on a hill above the Danube, a fortress patterned on the French Vauban system of military fortress-building, to the design of Austrian military engineers Marsigli, Keysersfeld and Wamberg.
The Belgrade Fortress was built as a defensive structure on a ridge overlooking the confluence of the Sava and the Danube rivers during the period from the 2nd to the 18thcentury. Today the fortress is a unique museum of the history of Belgrade. The complex is made up of the Belgrade Fortress itself, divided into the Upper and Lower Town (Gornji/Donji Grad), and the Kalemegdan Park.
Smederevo Fortress is situated on a wide plateau at theconfluence of the rivers Jezava and Danube. It was built with the intention of making it the country’s capital and the permanent residence of Despot Đurađ Branković, to replace Belgrade which, after the death of Despot Stefan in 1427 had been returned to the Hungarians. Great effort was invested in its construction and it represents the last great achievement of Serbian military architecture.