Niš Fortress is a big complex of very important cultural and historical monuments located in the city centre of Niš. Niš Fortress, as it is today, was built out of stone by the Turks in the early 18th century. It is located just on the right bank of the Nišava river. It’s interesting that they made it in a shape of an irregular polygon, and all sides have different lengths. The Fortress spreads on over 22 hectares of land and it is well known as one of the best conserved monuments of great importance in the Balkan region.
History goes even further – before the Turks, in the area of today’s fortress, there was a settlement called Naissus, like a small city with an administration and the army. The first Roman fortress was built of stone in this place in the 2nd century!
The Fortress has been demolished and restored a number of times, but the final appearance was finished in 1723. Turks made it with four large gates that exist today as well – the Stambol gate on the south, Belgrade gate (west), Vidin gate on the north and Jagodinska Gate (south-east). These days, you can find a lot of restaurants, bars and one souvenir shop in the fortress. But in the ancient times, people actually lived inside the Fortress, and had a lot of military stores (stores with gunpowder). They used to pray in the Bali-beg mosque (from the 16th century), that still exists in the Fortress. In addition, they had the Turkish bath – Hamam, from the 15th century. Today, there is a restaurant in the Fortress called Hamam.
The fortress remained under TUrkish rule until the end of 1877, when, finally, the Serbian flag was waving from the walls of the fortress – after almost five centuries!
Niš Fortress is a cultural public property of great importance, and a place for various cultural and artistic events: Nisville – the largest Jazz festival of South Eastern Europe, Nisomnia – music festival that includes listening to electronic music played by DJs, and the rock and pop music from national and international bands. In addition, each year, the Fortress is a host to the entire movie jet-set of the country. The Film Festival (called “The film meetings”) is the most visited festival of its kind in the country, organized in the open air of the Niš Fortress’ Amphitheatre.
The Fortress is a great place for kids as well – the access to the Fortress is free of charge and inside you can find a small train for sightseeing (kids love it). There are a lot of playgrounds on the grass for kids and what is most important – this Fortress is a place without traffic, with trees, benches and fresh air. The forest in the city centre!
The Fortress is definitely an extraordinary symbol of Niš.