A Travellerspoint blog

Zemun and Belgrade....Two Forts on the Danube

Since before Roman times there have been fortresses on high ground above the towns of Zemun and Belgrade. These were military outposts which protected the peoples of the area and more importantly the trade and travel routes that the Danube and Sava rivers offered. In the 12th century the town was conquered by the Kingdom of Hungary, and changed hands many times eventually falling to the Ottoman army which also conquered Belgrade in 1521. It was taken back by the Austrian Habsborgs in 1721 and was the center of continued border wars between the Habsberg and Ottoman empires. In 1918 Zemun become a part of Serbia, and when the river marshes that separated it from Belgrade were filled in after the WW2 to become the suburbs of New Belgrade, the town was assimilated into Greater Belgrade. The majority of it's population was for centuries German and Hungarian settlers and the present town of 150,000, which is now an industrial centre for the area, did not assimilate without a struggle. The Fortress of Belgrade shares a similar history, although the city of Belgrade was occupied and emptied of Serbians by the Turkish Ottoman empire from when it was conquered in 1521 until the year 1867 when the Turks withdrew from Belgrade and Serbia. However for 2000 years or more the fortress was subject to continuous sieges, battles, and conquests, and developed a series of walls and fortifications in an attempt to become impregnable. The morning I visited Zemun was cool and cloudy. (this was very welcome after the temperature rose to 40 degrees the previous day). It was only a 15 minute bus ride from where I'm staying in New Belgrade, and after I got off the bus I saw many mothers and children. together with people walking their dogs out enjoying the parks and playgrounds along the banks of the Danube river which skirts around the town. I have struggled with climbing steep hills to get to lookout towers in the past, but the slight slopes of the old streets leading to the top of the Gardos hill didn't cause me too much trouble. Before I knew it I was standing in front of the steps leading to the Tower of Janos Hunyadi ( a Serbian military hero, who won many battles against the Turks. He eventually died of the plague and was buried on Gardos Hill in 1456) I paid about NZ$3 and climbed up a winding stairwell to get to a point where I could walk around and see and take photos of the river and the town. The tower was built in 1896 to celebrate 1000 years of Hungarian settlement in the area and it has been well looked after. I took another way, down several flights of stairs into the town, and had a nice lunch in the large town markets, which I spent some time looking around before heading back to my home base in New Belgrade. I have visited the Belgrade Fortress twice. It is a very large and special place of which I have only seen about a third, and only shown about a quarter of the photos I took on my visits. It has a zoo (which I haven;t seen ), several small military museums and monuments, playing fields and miles of woodland paths. It even has underground caverns, in which people sheltered during the different wars, and finally it is situated at the end of the main pedestrian shopping precinct of Belgrade, which makes it easily accessible to visitors and locals. While I was there I was really impressed by the small but beautiful Rose Church.There was a church with the same name on this site from the 13th century but it was demolished by the Turks and used later as a gunpowder magazine. The gunpowder magazine was converted back into a military church in 1867, when the Turks left Belgrade. The inside, where no photos were allowed, has a peaceful spiritual presence with a few chairs on a marble floor under chandeliers made from shell casings from the first World War. The decorations are simple but gold and cream prevail and the walls are painted with one wall covered in many gold framed religious icons, in the way of Serbian Orthodox churches. It is a simple yet beautiful place of worship......In what I am beginning to discover is the beautiful city of Belgrade,

Restaurants line the Danube at Zemun

Restaurants line the Danube at Zemun


steep cobbled streets to reach tower

steep cobbled streets to reach tower


Tower on Gardos Hill

Tower on Gardos Hill


rear view of Gardos tower

rear view of Gardos tower


stairwell inside side towers

stairwell inside side towers


narrow stairwell

narrow stairwell


view of barge on the Danube

view of barge on the Danube


Where Danube and Sava rivers meet

Where Danube and Sava rivers meet


looking across town of Zemun

looking across town of Zemun


spire of Church of St Nicholas 1731

spire of Church of St Nicholas 1731


Patron saint of fishermen

Patron saint of fishermen


from tower looking down towards Zemun

from tower looking down towards Zemun


Church of St Demetrius

Church of St Demetrius


steps leading down into the town of Zemun

steps leading down into the town of Zemun


Main street of Belgrade leads to Kalemegdan park

Main street of Belgrade leads to Kalemegdan park


which has a shady wooded area

which has a shady wooded area


and paths that lead to the fortress

and paths that lead to the fortress


on path to the fortress ( taken with dad's o.k.)

on path to the fortress ( taken with dad's o.k.)


soon high enough to see this

soon high enough to see this


and across to New Belgrade

and across to New Belgrade


Telling it like it is

Telling it like it is


showing old 'lower town'

showing old 'lower town'


and Danube and Sava rivers kiss

and Danube and Sava rivers kiss


my favourite sculpture in park

my favourite sculpture in park


with a hidden bronze

with a hidden bronze


Ruzica (Rose) Church

Ruzica (Rose) Church


attached to fortress walls

attached to fortress walls


guarded by medieval and WW1 Serbian soldiers

guarded by medieval and WW1 Serbian soldiers


medieval knight

medieval knight


WW1 Serbian soldier

WW1 Serbian soldier


Holy Mother with Christ Bronze

Holy Mother with Christ Bronze


Zindan gate

Zindan gate


built in 1450

built in 1450


be hard to climb these walls

be hard to climb these walls


17th century clock gate

17th century clock gate


closer view

closer view


thickness of fortress walls

thickness of fortress walls


Monument of gratitude to France

Monument of gratitude to France


symbolic figure of woman with a sword

symbolic figure of woman with a sword


Set in a formal french style garden

Set in a formal french style garden

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Serbia

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