Belgrade, Smederevo fortress, Viminacium, Silver lake, Golubac

One of the oldest cities in Europe and the only one built on the confluence of two rivers – Danube and the Sava . The capital of Serbia, Belgrade, is known as “the city that never sleeps”. Floating clubs on its rivers have become synonyms for great parties and neverending fun, and Skadarlija, the bohemian street, for a place where music and singing can be heard until dawn.

 

Belgrade is a modern european city with population of about 1.7 million people. It is an administrative, political and cultural center of the country. The sessions of Serbian parliament and government are being held in Belgrade, and the office of the President is also in it. The buildings that host these institutions are themselves monuments of great cultural importance and therefore a part of every visitor’s itinerary.

 

All the people that have lived here and the armies that passed through Belgrade have left their marks on the city, and the magnificent Victor monument, the remains of the Belgrade fortress, the Stambol gate, the Old Palace and many other sites of Belgrade are inviting you to discover them.

 

The seats of numerous international companies can be found there, but also major shopping malls and the Belgrade Arena – the largest hall in the Balkans – that has already hosted some world famous events like the Eurosong contest, Summer Universiade, Davis cup finals…

 

In Belgrade you can also find one quite specific monument – “The house of flowers” (Kuća cveća). It is the burial place of Josip Broz Tito, the former president of Yugoslavia and a person that has marked the second half of the XX century in this part of the world. Whether due to their nostalgia or just simple curiosity, this monument attracts a great number of visitors from the region, but also from the world.

 

One of Belgraders’ most popular picnic and excursion destinations is mount Avala – located not far from the city. The other is Ada Ciganlija, a river island turned into a peninsula with a promenade and a beach that surround the lake in the center. It is a perfect destination to cool down during hot summer days.

Since the Smederevo fortress was being built very quickly, it required an extremely strenuous effort and many workers were exhausted to death. The people blamed despotess Jerina (Irene Kantakouzene) and named her “The Damned”

The Smederevo fortress is one of the largest lowland medieval fortresses in Europe and the last major masterpiece of Serbian architecture from this period.

History is still being written here – a tomb of unknown noble woman with priceless jewelry has been discovered in 2012. Archaeological excavations are still active, thus this is favorite destination of all archaeology and history lovers.

Once you’re here… who knows… you might even discover the legendary treasure of the Damned Jerina.

The Smederevo Fortress comprises of the Big and Small Town. The Small Town is actually the remains of the castle where once the Despot’s family and nobles lived. The Big Town was built later and here people took refuge fleeing from Turks.

There are numerous legends and stories about the construction of the Smederevo fortress. One of the legends says that the despot Đurađ Branković had a dream in which he was instructed to build a new city on a river, hence he ordered the new city to be built on the confluence of the Jezava River and the Danube.

The stone for the building of the fortress was brought from Viminacium, Mt. Kosmaj and the Ram fortress on the Danube.

The city was built in just few years so many builders died of exhaustion. People were looking for a culprit and the wife of Serbian Despot Djuradj Branković – Jerina (Irene Kantakouzene) was blamed for it and the name “Damned Jerina” remained until this day.

The legend of lost treasure, that she had buried somewhere in the fortress, never to be found by conquerors, still hunts numerous adventurists. So if you’re seeking an adventure and you want to feel like Indiana Jones, try your luck looking for this treasure.

The archaeological excavations are still ongoing and you will have impression that history is revealing in front of you.

Excavating the foundations of a very mysterious little church in the fortress (it is not certain when it was built), a tomb of still unknown noble woman with priceless jewelry was discovered. Numerous vases, pottery and medieval arms can be seen in the nearby Museum in Smederevo.

The constant threat of Turks forced them to complete the Small City in just two years. The construction was finished in 1430.

Today the inscription made of red brick with the words of the despot thanking God for the successful completion of the city still stands on the “Krstača” (Huge cross) tower.

The Smederevo fortress was built in the form of irregular triangle and it is recognizable by 25 high towers. The fortress long stood strong before the conquerors. In 1459 it was finally conquered by Turks. It was the end of the Serbian medieval country.

The Smederevo fortress was well preserved until the middle of the 20th century. During the World War II a massive explosion occurred damaging the fortress and the large part of the town of Smederevo.

In 1946 the fortress was put under the protection of the state, while the conservation works are still ongoing.

Viminacium, today Kostolac near Požarevac, where the Mlava flows into the Danube, we find one of the most important Roman towns and military encampments from the period from the 1st to the 6th century. The civilian settlement next to the encampment during the rule of Hadrian (117-138) gained the status of a municipium, a town with a high degree of autonomy.

During the reign of Gordian III (239) the town was accorded the status of a Roman citizen colony and the right to mint local currency. Such a status was the highest that could be attained by a town in the Roman Empire. Viminacium was often chosen as a mustering point for troops and a starting point in many a military campaign.

The economy of Viminacium developed quickly thanks to its location on the Danube. The exceptional finds made in the necropoles around the town (more than 14,000 graves have been found so far) confirm the belief that its citizens were very wealthy, and frescoes found in the crypts represent the peak of late classical period art. The town was devastated on several occasions, in invasions by the Goths, Huns and finally the Avars. In and around the town there have been discoveries of an amphitheatre, monumental buildings, lavish thermae (baths) and the remains of a highly-developed infrastructure, first and foremost streets, aqueducts and a sewage system. The discoveries made so far have very much affirmed the special significance of Viminacium as the leading Roman Metropolis on this part of the Danube Limes.

The archaeological site is open for visiting from the beginning of February to the end of November, during summer from 9am to 7pm, during spring and autumn from 10am to 5pm. Pre-arranged visits can be organised all year round, including outside the above dates and times.

Silver Lake is an oxbow lake along the right Danube bank in the Braničevo region in eastern Serbia, near the town of Veliko Gradište. It is a popular tourist resort. Silver Lake is an arm of the Danube on its right bank. With the main river bed of the Danube it engulfes the marshy ada (river island) of Ostrovo. On both points which connect the lake to the Danube it was dammed and bridged in 1971 by the Veliko Gradište-Zatonje road which also crosses the island. Other settlements on the lake are Biskuplje and Kisiljevo. Silver Lake has an irregular arch shape, it is 14 km (8.7 mi) long, up to 300 m (980 ft) wide and covers an area of 4 km2 (1.5 sq mi). It is situated at the altitude of 70 m (230 ft) and deep as much as 13 m (43 ft). The water is clear due to the lack of pollution and the natural filtration of the water through many sand dunes. The lake is abundant in fish, including white amur, common carp (the largest had 44 kg (97 lb)), wels catfish, northern pike, perch, zander, grass carp and other freshwater whitefish.

On the walls of the magnificent Golubac fortress the “košava” wind breaks the waves of the Danube where the river is possibly most powerful, just before entering the largest gorge in Europe between the mighty Carpathian mountains

Like a sad, lonely Byzantine princess, like an eternal vigilant guard by whom no one can slip into the Djerdap gorge (eng. The Iron Gates of the Danube), the famous Golubac fortress has been defying centuries.

Its founder remains unknown and one can guess it originates from the 14th century. It has always been of great significance so everyone wanted it.

Numerous conquerors walked in it considering it their own, but during centuries it only had one master, the Danube, the only one that knows all its secrets. We would like the Danube to tell us who built this perfect fortress on a cliff just by the road, and also which of the legends about its name is true.

One thing is certain, all stories about this fortress are sad, and the saddest one takes us back to the time when this part of Serbia was under the Ottoman rule.

A girl named Golubana was the most beautiful in the area. A word was spread about her beauty, and the story came to a cruel Turkish Pasha who fell in love with her. She refused his love. To get his vengeance, the Pasha tied the poor girl to a rock sticking out from the water in the middle of the river opposite the mighty fortress, where she died in pain watching the city that was later named after her.

The second legend tells the story about the city that was named after the Byzantine princess Jelena (Irene Kantakouzene), the wife of despot Djuradj Branković. She tried to drive away her loneliness and sorrow by keeping pigeons that would come and sit on her white hands and she would tell them the story about her sadness and far Byzantium she longed for, since she wasn’t popular among the Serbian people…

The actors of the third legend are wild pigeons that lived on the rocks surrounding the fortress, and after them, that have chosen this place to be their home, the fortress was named after.

Golubac fortress has ten towers. The first and the true builder of this fortress gave it nine towers set in front, back and lower town, but Turks added another tower and strengthened the fortress with canon openings. All towers are built in a shape of a square except the donjon tower (the strongest tower of the fortress, the last stand of defense) that has a polygonal base, and the cylindrical top, thus the name “Šešir kula” (Hat Tower).

Price: 290 EUR for max 8 people