Niš fortress is one of main tourist attractions in the city of Niš. Today’s dilemma is are the origins of it from Roman or Ottoman era.
History of Niš fortress
This fortress is mentioned in writings from first century. Once very important defense object, named Naissus, in time of Roman Empire, is still in good shape. Of that era of this amazing monument in Nis witness few monuments in there, even today. Because Ottomans rebuilt it in their time and put it in today’s shape in 1723. After that, it got throughout centuries and many wars.
Except Romans, it’s owners were Byzantines, Slavs, Bulgarians, Austrians, Ottomans and also Serbians. It was damaged lots of times during all this time. And also, it was restored and changed shape in time. First of all in Roman time it was square. Finally today it’s polygon base building.
With research of fortress in city of Niš one thing can be concluded. Life of this fortress in Serbian city of Niš lasts few centuries. It is continuous from Roman era till today. And it’s proved every day with monuments and objects and legends that are found here. Until 1953 it was militray object. Than it was open for public.
Location of Niš fortress is in central part of the city, in Djuke Dinić street. It is near other important monuments in the city of Niš. It can be seen from the main city area and also from the street. It’s pretty much reachable. When you are going from the main bus station you are passing by it. From 12. february concentration camp is 15 minutes by foot.
And also from Banovina building is one minute. From Early Christian tomb in Jagodin mala is 10 minutes by walk. Entrance is free to Niš fortress. This is monument of great importance and as such is protected by State of Serbia. Surface of the fortress is 22 hectares. Walls are tall about 8 meters. And also there are passages through them to trenches outside.
Legends of Nis fortress
As witness in time and guardian of Nis, it was here for many stories and legends. They are all stories of the past times and unexplored parts of Nis fortress.
By first legend of Nis fortress, here was escape tunnel. That way out was with purpose so that citizens of Nis could save them self if city was attacked. It was few kilometers long, ending in near by mountains. It is unknown where it was ending. Or where was it’s start. Or if it was really there. But it is assumed that it was there.
Legend of Saint Procopius and Nis fortress is urban legend. By that legend, just before city and fortress fell in Ottomans, this artifact was moved. Saint Procopius body was in Nis as artifact. It’s location was in Nis Serbia at that time. Because local people wanted to hide it before enemy conquered Nis, artifact was moved away from the city. By that legend, they were moved to Prokuplje. And that how Prokuplje got it’s name. Nis fell in enemy hands, but without prize, body of a Saint.
Beside this legends, there a few more. Especially about events that happened in tunnels in last century. Most interesting legend is about exploring the Nis fortress tunnels.
Under fortress itself there are a lots of tunnels. In time of exploring in the mid 30es, there were many causalities. First expedition that entered them, diapered without a trace. From second who entered with dogs, only one dog came back. And with many wounds.
Stambol gate entrance to fortress
The very possible thing is that you will enter the fortress from central side of the city, Where is location of King Milan’s square. The entrance of the fortress on that side is called Stambol gate. Here is one interesting fact about the Stambol gate. When you stand on the end of the bridge, in front of the fortress, look up. Above the entrance to the fortress and you will see board with Arab inscription. The letters on are from Ottoman language. The board pas presented when fortress was finished by Ottomans in 1723. On the board is written:
“The Emperor, the one who is magnificent as Alexanar, Emperor who is famous as Darius, is Sultan of Sultans Ahmet Han. He made city of Nis on Alexanders ideas and put to enemy iron barrier. He put iron gates in this city and Rhodes and Candia envied on that. On the walls of the city he built towers and ramparts to the firmament of heaven. He already arranged everything. The height of these towers cannot be glimpsed, and in the trenches of the city a well is made, on which the world is reflected.
The gates, walls, and fortress he fortify. Every wall and every tower stands like a angry lion. The onslaught of the gates turned into an attack of military giants. Through it comes army to the city to help. Each tower reaches the highest vaults. A year ago, the city gate was completed and a vault was erected on it. Throughout the empire, this gate is the strongest protection and Sultan Ahmet III (1702 – 1730) made the city of Nis the hardest city in 1723. “
After while, the fortress of Nis and the city was seized by Austrian empire. That was in one short period. After seizing, Ottomans got it back in 3.10.1739. For importance of territory, and prestige, Ottomans conquered it back again. As all territory up to Belgrade.
Today’s fortress in Niš Serbia
From the creation or this fortress here was center of social life. Hence, today it’s the same. Here is favorite place of social life of people in time from spring till fall. First of all, here are held music festivals Nisomnia, Nisville and Choir festival.
And also concerts in amphitheater, film festival and even more events. In fortress are also located clubs and cafes. For the reason that it’s especially interesting during the summer. It is recommended to visit it in that period. Further more, you can experience walking on the platform above Stambol gate, and enjoy the sight of the city of Niš from there.
Gates of fortress
Niš fortress had four entrances. They are Stambol gate, Belgrade gate, Vidin gate and Jagodina gate ( Water gate). There is also small gate used for going into trenches. So, you could say there were five of them. They all can be seen today.
Because Belgrade gate is hidden, with a little effort it will be available. This gate can be seen from inside of the fortress also. As the rest of the gates can. They don’t look similarly one to another.
To many people most beautiful is Belgrade gate, on the photo. Water gate is named like that because in need water from Nišava river was used to fill the trenches. As a result of that, this fortress was hard to conquer.
Stambol gate is main entrance to Fortress Nis today. It’s location is directly in front of the bridge. On every photo of Nis fortress it is seen as entrance to it. The one more reason because of that Belgrade gate is hidden. Above Stambol gate is sign on Arabic alnguage, that I previously mentioned. On the top of the entrance are cannon and guns holes.
Ancient Roman street and Early Christian tomb in the fortress
In central area of the Nis fortress Serbia is part where are located. Furthermore, next to it is entrance to fifth Early Christian tomb in city of Niš.
Other four can be seen on our post about Early Christian tombs in city of Niš. And also, this basilica is similarly to other four basilicas in the city Nis.
Prince Milan’s monument in Niš fortress
This is first monument built in modern liberated city of Niš. It dates back form 1902. The monument is made in shape of bullet. Because it symbolize battle and liberation of Niš.
Palace with octagon in fortress of Niš
It’s located on the opposite side of Stambol gate. Furthermore, today is protected by Republic of Serbia. Further more archeological excavation and preservation is done.
First of all, for this ancient villa some sources presume that it was house of Constantine the Great, instead the Mediana location. In some past times here were much larger object. But today, it is part of much bigger location yet to be explored. Probably are still.
Hamam, Turkish bath in fortress in city of Niš
It is oldest preserved monument of Ottoman ruling in city of Niš. It is located on the left side by the Stambol gate entrance. The Hamam bath is built in 1498. by decree of Mehmed Bey, ruler of that time. To this bath water was supplied from near by Nišava river. Recently here was kafana but is also closed today.
Former Armory in fortress in city of Niš
When you come in our fortress on Stambol gate you will encounter building that is gallery, conference room and souvenir shop. For the reason that was restored in 1972. This building was in armory in Ottoman era. This building was built in 1857.This was warehouse for weapons. As a result of that, it is large building.
You have big souvenir shop to buy national and ethno objects. Due to that you can buy different kinds of cups, magnets, postcards and more. In other parts of the building there is conference room for events. And also gallery.
Bali Bey mosque in fortress in city of Niš
This object is located in central part of the fortress. Straight from the Stambol gate. It’s built in 1521. Today in this object is gallery. on the side of the building can be seen ruins today. They are of library of that time.
Beside this, there one more in fortress. But it was destroyed in bombing of Nis in 1944.
To sum up,Under are, all Nis fortress gates:
01. Stambol gate
02. Belgrade gate
03. Vidin gate
04. Jagodina gate
05. and also small, trench gate.
Finally, in fortress itself can be seen:
01. Hamam, Turkish bath from 15th century
02. Bali Bey mosque, today gallery
03. Objects in line on the entrance that was aromory, today souvenir shop
04. Gunpowder rooms built from 1720
06. Paša’s house, today Mediana company offices
07. Old Prison building
08. Lapidarium, monuments from ancient Roman time
09. Amphitheater from 1959
10. Octagon palace from ancient Roman time
11. Sports fields “Rovče”
12. Ancient Early Christian tomb location
13. Monument to Milan Obrenović and liberators of the city, the Prince of Serbia and liberator of the city in 1877.
14. Monument to executed Toplica uprising fighters and organizers in 1917.
15. Weather company offices
17. Roman time street
18. Ancient Roman bath,
19. and also Mountaineers club
More about fortress and other Niš Serbia tourist attractions
To sum up, Nis fortress in Niš Serbia and all Serbia nad Balkan must see monument. And also, it should be on even on Europe’s travel map. It is very important history monument that should be seen during Serbia travel and also Niš sightseeing. Fortress Nis is public palce, opened 24 hours. Entrance to this landmark of Nis is free.
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