Only “Nis” (City of Nis) is one of the oldest cities in Europe and it represents crossroad between East and West. This is the place where Roman Empire was divided from the coming conquerors of the Goths. In Eastern and Western Roman empire. Between Diocletian and Maximilian, two roman generals. And with the help of the bloodiest battle of that time, the Battle of Naissus. Nis is also a city with many stories and legends about it’s history.

As historical facts say. So here was always place with some important role. The legend says it was in place of today’s Mediana. That is the reason how it got its name. It means something divided, middle area etc. Perhaps the first great battle in its history took place on the territory of Nis. Battle of Naissus. The battle between the Roman Empire and the invading Goths. This battle is considered to be one of the bloodiest of that time. It took place in the year 268. And the assumptions are that about 30-50 thousand warriors remained on the battlefield. Which is still a lot today. And especially at that time.

The capital of “merak” and great food of Serbia

To this date, several objects have been found that prove that the territory of the city of Nis and its surroundings was inhabited in ancient times. The remains are from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Remains of individuals from that period have even been found. The city itself is positioned in the southeastern part of the Republic of Serbia. And it represents the center as the largest city in this part of Serbia. Nis can be reached by land or plane. So you can visit it and enjoy it soon as possible.

mask in mediana, mediana nis findings

Ancient Naissus, today’s city of Nis, the city of Roman culture, was first built in 1BC as a stronghold, and soon become big and important municipium with self governing rights. The city is birthplace of famous military commander and later emperor Flavius Valerius Constantinus. He is today better known as Constantine the Great. He is the ruler who recognized Christianity as equal religion and defender of it.

Mediana was built during his ruling . It is luxurious part of antique City of Naissus (City of Nis). Today it is very important world archeological site. See it to believe it. City of Nis can be always right choice for vacation in Nis, Serbia or around. What to see in Serbia, Nis is always must see destination. Especially if we are talking about trips out of Belgrade.

Nis city, ancient Emperial city

Except today’s most famous citizen of Nis in history, Constantine the Great, few more important people were born here. Constantine the Great is one of tree rulers born in city of Nis and territory around it.

Here were born Emperors Flavius Constantius and Flavius Justin or Justin The First (born probably in Lebane about 45 km from Nis). For the reason Nis is birthplace of these important people, and a lot more important events thought history, city of Nis was always nicknamed Imperial city.

All things in Nis are connected. Also in history of this city. And always with some kind of influence of Constantine the Great. The Nis fortress, and it’s entrances are here from ancient times. As also, the bridge in front of the fortress. In some form. In time after liberation of Ottoman Empire, there was decision to build a new bridge. That was the way to mark a new beginning. In the end of 19th century, old stone bridge was changed with iron new one.

Legend of Constantine the Great statue

During the construction period, in time of demolition of the Nisava bridge and putting up new foundation, one big thing was found. In one of the stone pillars that was destroyed, on 7,5 meters depth there was a chamber with treasure. Except the ancient coins and jewels, there was one great thing, sculpture of the head most famous citizen of Nis, of Constantine the Great. Probably, someone in the past hid it there before the city was conquered by the enemies. And that was the decision that gave us the opportunity to see how Constantine, the great Emperor, was looking.

Constantine the Great deserved many things in his life. One of them was endowment to his birth city, Naissus, today city of Nis. The citizens of the city of that time, gave him back in one interesting way. In 4th century, for gratitude, there was statue of 2,5 meters of Constantine in gold. The theory is that the found head was part of that statue. Because it’s value, today it’s in National museum in Belgrade. If you visit Archeo room of National museum in Nis you can see exact copy of it. Location of Nis museum (Archeo room) is in Nikole Pašića street, no.59.

Constantin Serbia, famous roman emperor

The name of this ancient city

City of today’s city of Nis, by the history and legends, is by the river that goes through it. The river is Nisava. First name was Navissos, named by the Celts and their Scordici tribe. After this name, next name was by ancient Romans. Byzantines had similar name for it. It was Nysos. Today’s name is from the Slavs. And also, there are legends about founding of the city.

Naissa fairy legend about origins of the city

Ancient legend about city of Nis tell that the city is founded by river fairy Naissa. From that time she is the keeper of the city from every enemy in history. She lives in river Nisava and helps everyone that needs help. In her name is named Grand Prix Naissa that is given to actors on Movie Festival of Nis.

City of Nis Serbia Nigh on Nemanjic Bulevard, King Aleksandar Monument, public monument and fountain in Nis, view on a fortress in Niš

The Hun’s conquered Nis in 441. and Byzantines in 6th century. Emperor Justinian built a fortress, which is still here today.

Slavic tribes conquered the city in 7th century, and that counts as the beginning of the medieval time here. The first written traces about today’s King Milan’s square, on photo above,  date back from 11 century and passing of Crusader knights through city of Nis.

Next important period in this territory is with ruler Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja, and that was the time when this city became part of great Serbian state territory. There is still here church, St. Panteleimon, from that time where was the meeting in City of Nis (ancient Naissus) between German Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa  and Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja. This took place in 1189.

Saint Panteleimon, St. Panteleimon church in Niš Serbia, Stefan Nemanja Fridrih Barbarosa meeting in Niš Serbia

Monuments of Nis

This territory was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire in the period from 1386 to 1878. From that period, many monuments remain that can be seen even today in Nis. Very important monuments are Cele kula (Scull tower), Monument on Cegar hill, lot’s of monuments in fortress. And also, it can be said that the Niš Fortress is a monument from that period.

cegar monument, cegar hill monument Nis Serbia, Cegar Nis Otoman battle monument, Stevan Sindjelic, Cegar monument liberation

The monument on Cegar hill is a very important historical monument of Serbia and the Serbian people. The importance is reflected in the battle for liberation from Ottoman rule in First Serbian Uprising. The Battle of Cegar took place on May 31, 1809 and is one of the most famous battles in the First Serbian Uprising. Duke Stevan Sindjelic and his army were overwhelmed by Ottoman army. So he decided to blow up the gun powder magazine. but also with the Turkish army.

monument, scull tower, house of sculls, history, Scull tower monument in Nis

As revenge for that, the Turkish commander of Nis in that period, Hurshid Pasha, ordered the construction of Ćele Kula in order to intimidate the Serbs for future revolts. More about Monuments in Nis read on Must see monuments in the city.

History of Nis

And also, in new age history, role of this historic city is very important. In 1914. there was an assembly which announced united country of Serbs, Croats and South Sloven’s. And also, here is birthplace of Yugoslavia.

That document is called Declaration of Nis (Niska deklaracija). So you could say that ancient city of Naissus is cradle of Yugoslavia. In 1918. the city was liberated of invading army’s in First World war. Between two world wars in this city was regional territory administrative district.

This city, the third biggest on the map of Serbia, was heavily bombarded during WW2. It has, as always, strategic position on the road to Greece and Black Sea. Citizens of this territory were repressed by invading German forces.

There is still Concentration Camp Nis and Bubanj memorial site. This camp is important because it is first organized escape out of Nazi camp in Europe. The city was liberated in 1944. after destroying Nazi Prinz Eugen division.

City of Nis today

Nis is a great place for vacation in Serbia. You can also visit the “capital of Merak as part of a trip to Serbia. It certainly deserves it with its history, food and drink, pleasant and hospitable inhabitants. Nis is about three hours drive from Belgrade.

So it is a perfect place for a trip outside Belgrade. And the proximity of other cities in southern and eastern Serbia allows you to see what to see in Serbia.

You can see the monuments in the city of Nis that you must visit on the page The most important monuments of Nis. In addition to these, there are monuments in the area. Near this city, you can see once very important fortress Kurvingrad, Koprijan or Korvingrad.

Weather in city of Nis Serbia by months

This data can be useful if you plan to visit this southern Serbia city. Here is graph of average temperature by months in the city. Summers are hot but not too hot, and winters are mild. So you can visit us in winter to. Be here during New year holidays, or even Serbian Orthodox New Year and have great new experience.

anual temperature Serbia, weather in southern Serbia

About Nis Serbia today and what to see and visit, you can read more here: Modern Nis   and Nightlife in the City of Nis or Find out how to get to city of Nis Serbia. One of most important tourist attractions in Nis and Serbia, must see, is fortress. If you are wondering about what to do in Nis, except monuments, see our list of the best coffee shops and cafes in Nis. And also, you can use many “kafana” to enjoy in our national food and drinks.

If you are wondering where is city of Nis Serbia, we made it easier for you. Use map to get you to here. Or you can read here are pages How to get to Nis and Where is Nis. In this part of Serbia, bigger cities are also Leskovac, Prokuplje, Pirot, Zajecar and also Vranje.

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