- Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 18:37
Across Serbia there are some 200 sites preserving the remains of old fortresses and fortified towns dating back to ancient times.
However, following many centuries of war and destruction, only those fortresses which retained their military function into the Middle Ages, under Turkish rule, have been preserved. Most of these fortifications were extended and adapted as military technology developed, and in doing so lost their original mediaeval appearance. Some of them were the antecedents of contemporary Serbian towns, which even today boast portions of old walls and towers.
Fortresses were purely military strongholds, while castles were smaller fortifications, home to the courts of the gentry or rulers. Most widespread were fortified towns, with multiple, separately-defended sections, whose walls encompassed not only a castle but a civilian settlement.
Around the fortress of Stari Ras, near Novi Pazar, there is a group of mediaeval cultural properties that in 1979 were entered into the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List under the common name of Stari Ras and Sopoćani.
Belgrade Fortress - Kalemegdan, today Belgrade’s most beautiful and largest park, was during the time that the Fortress was Belgrade’s main military stronghold, used to observe and await the enemy in battle.
Petrovaradin Fortress was built next to Novi Sad, on the right bank of the Danube, on the site of the Roman fortress of Cusum and the mediaeval Petrikon, the remains of which were demolished in 1690.
Smederevo Fortress is situated on a wide plateau at theconfluence of the rivers Jezava and Danube. It was built with the intention of making it the country’s capital and the permanent residence of Despot Đurađ Branković, to replace Belgrade which, after the death of Despot Stefan in 1427 had been returned to the Hungarians. Great effort was invested in its construction and it represents the last great achievement of Serbian military architecture
The mediaeval town of Ras is 11 km west of Novi Pazarand stands on a hill known as Gradina. It is thought to have been founded during the reign of John II Komnenos(1118-1143). There are three archaeological sites within the old Ras complex: the fortress on Gradina, the cave together with the monastery of the Archangel Michael beneath the fortification and the settlement of Pazarište (formerly Trgovište), the buildings of which evidence an urbanised structure.
Niš Fortress was built in the early 18th century by the Turks, on the right bank of the Nišava river, in the very centre of the city. It was constructed upon Roman and mediaeval foundations. Its shape is that of an irregular polygon, with sides of varying lengths. It was built of stone extracted from the nearby Hum quarry, though monuments, sarcophagi and other building materials from earlier periods were used.
More about fortresses in Serbia could be found HERE.
Photo: N. Pavlović, FoNet