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Fortress Kalemegdan

The fortress Kalemegdan   has a very long history, going back at least to the castrum of Roman times; destroyed several times by successive waves of invaders, was rebuilt as a castle by the Byzantines in the 12th century. Under the Serb Despot Stefan Lazarevic  , son of the king Lazar , Belgrade became the capital of the Serbian kingdom; the fortress was strengthened, and the Despot's palace was built within the old castle. A medieval town grew up within the walls of the lower fort (a model is on display on one of the upper terraces).

Figure 3.1:  The walls of the Kalemegdan fortress overlooking the rivers Sava and Danube

After the conquest of Belgrade by the Turks (1521), the fortress decayed, but was restored as a military stronghold by the Austrian during their short lived occupation (1717-1739). During the partial independence of Serbia, in the first half of the 19th century, the Kalemegdan fortress was still occupied by a Turkish garrison. In 1862, as an escalation from a fight between Turkish troops and the Serb population, the commander of the Kalemegdan ordered the bombardment of Belgrade. This produced such a backlash in the European public opinion that Serbia succeeded, with the support of the great powers, to obtain the departure of the Turkish troops from Kalemegdan and all the other fortress they still held in Serbia; this resulted in the effective achievement of full independence from the Ottoman empire.

Figure 3.2:  The Statue of the Winner, on top of the Kalemegdan fortress, as seen from the Sava

Rather than looking for specific places and monuments, it is more rewarding just to stroll in the parks and along the walls of the Kalemegdan, watching the panorama from the terraces looking toward the rivers Sava  and Danav . However, you can see not very well preserved Roman ruins and a Roman well (reconstructed 1731), the tomb of a Pasha, the most ancient gates of the fortress such as the one of the Despot (15th century), the clock tower, the People's Observatory (amateur astronomical observatory), the monument à la France (out of gratitude for the help of the French troops in the 1915-1918 war), the statue of the Winner by Mestrovic . There are three museums/galleries open to the public:

Figure 3.3:  The terraces of the Kalemegdan fortress

Vojni muzej  , the Military Museum (open 10-17), with an open air section (+) showing the tanks and cannons of the two world wars.

Prirodnjacki muzej  , the Natural History Museum Gallery (+), a small but well organized changing display of the local fauna and paleontology. Note the highly enlarged photograph of the Belgrade mosquito, an especially dangerous enemy, partly responsible for the fact that Belgrade is full of mosquitoes . On the contrary, the main building of the Natural History Museum, on Ivana Miliuninovica, is now closed to the public (but still marked on most maps).

Cvijeta Zuzoric   Pavillion, a large gallery space used for temporary exhibitions; see Weekly Beograd .

Figure 3.4:  The tiger of the Belgrade Zoo, as seen from the Kalemegdan fortress.

Near the fortress, and even visible from above from the upper fort, is the Zooloski Vrt  , the Zoo (+), small but well kept and entertaining; the entrance is however from the Tadeusa Koscuska   street. Beyond the fortress, below the ramparts overlooking the confluence of the rivers, is Donji grad  , now a park, with several remains of the Turkish times, such as the Amam  , now transformed into a planetarium, and the hexagonal tower of Nebojsa kula  , a Turkish prison with a grim history of capital executions.

next up previous contents
Next: Stari Gradthe center Up: Museums and monuments Previous: Museums and monuments

Andrea Milani Comparetti
Mon Mar 29 16:22:03 MET DST 1999