At the very heart of the Serbian capital city, where the river Sava meets the Danube, towers a monumental fortress from which modern Belgrade originally emerged.
The first fortification on this strategically important spot was erected by Celts. Later, in the 2nd Century CE, the site became a permanent military camp of the Roman legion IV Flaviae. Belgrade Fortress has been razed to the ground and rebuilt many times. It was ruled by the Byzantines, Hungarians and Serbian kings and Ottoman Turkey and Austria-Hungary fought over it for centuries.
The turbulent history of this fortress has left its mark on its architecture: Roman walls underlie Serbian ramparts, on top of which the Ottomans and Austrians built their fortifications.
Belgrade Fortress saw its golden age in the 15th Century, during the reign of Despot Stefan Lazarević, when Belgrade was fortified with the walls of the Upper Town and the Lower Town.
The ramparts of the Upper Town are built on the foundations of the Roman castrum. Other amenities of the upper town include Despot’s Gate with the Dizdar Tower and the Zindan Gate, whose towers were used as prisons during the Ottoman rule. Visitors are also drawn to Damad Ali Pasha’s Turbeh, a rare example of Islamic architecture in Belgrade, as well as the 27-metre high Clock Tower, with distinctive elements of baroque.Baroque elements can also be seen on the lavishly adorned Gate of Charles VI in the Lower Town. Here you can also see the Nebojša Tower, a well-preserved cannon tower built in the 15th Century to protect the entrance to the port. Over time, the tower was converted to a prison which held many Serbian rebels and fighters against Ottoman Turks, as well as the famous Greek revolutionary and poet Rigas Feraios, who eventually died here.
The former large gunpowder storage built in the 18th Century, known today as “Barutana”, is a venue of concerts and other cultural events.The spacious Kalemegdan park, a favourite walking spot among Belgraders and visitors, is also situated within the fortress. It was once a battlefield where enemies were met and fought, which is reflected in the park’s name – a joining of two Turkish words, kale (meaning “fortress”) and megdan (meaning “battlefield”).
Amenities available to visitors in this spacious park are plenty. Art lovers should not miss the “Cvijeta Zuzorić” Art Pavilion and the Music Pavilion, while animal lovers are sure to enjoy a visit to the Zoo.
The Military Museum is also situated in Kalemegdan park, while the former guard building is now home to the Natural History Museum.
Children’s playgrounds, sport courts and restaurants will enrich your stay at this enchanting fortress.