Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Belgrade Fortress - Kalemegdan

Kalemegdan

When you step in Kalemegdan, especially in the summer, you will feel a peace and serenity. Although it is so close to the city center, with its parks, walking paths, shady benches, green lawns, art pavilion and birds. Kalemegdan takes you to a magical world. It's also the biggest and most beautiful park in Belgrade dates from the XIX century. On the edge of Kalemegdan 105 m above the sea level, overlooking the confluence of the Sava and the Danube rivers lies the Belgrade fortress.


Belgrade Fortress Eastern Gate II drawing, late XVIII century.
Annual of the City of Belgrade (XIX)

The Belgrade fortress is one of the most fascinating points of the sacral and secular geography of Eurasia. According to the current study of history, the Romans built the first fortress about one hundred years before Christ as a very significant defence point on the Danube border of the Roman Empire.
Since its construction, the Belgrade fortress has been constantly attacked and defended, destroyed and renovated. Chronicles trace a history of about 40 to 60 devastation of the fortress. It is evident that celebrated heroes fought on both sides of the walls or they become famous in the battles they led on behalf of the fortress.


Fortress of Belgrade as it looked in the middle ages. Lower and upper town with the palace are visible, Belgrade 16th century.


" The orders to attack the fortress of Belgrade or to defend it until the last men dies were given by Licinius Attila, the Avarian Kagan, by Byzantine emperors Justinian, Emmanuel Comnenus, Isaak Angelus, The Hungarian Kings Solomon, Stephan II, Turkish sultans Murat II, Mehmed II the Conqueror, and Suleiman The Magnificent, German King Conrad III and French King Louis VII, Norwegian Prince Sigurd, Princess Guillaume and Villiam, and Godfrey De Bouillon, who was the Duke of Lower Lorraine and the later King of Jerusalem, were all remembered as the leaders of the crusaders or pilgrims, many of them were welcomed in peace or remembered as destroyers..."


 Zindan kapija is a Middle eve gate in Belgrade fortress on Kalemegdan, Belgrade, Serbia

In the time of the great migration of peoples, the Huns, Avars, Goths, Gepids and Bulgarians kept the Belgrade fortress under many sieges. It is claimed that in the 7th century the Slavs came and settled in the deserted and ruined Byzantine fortress. Later on, the Hungarians and Byzantines, Austrians and Turks, constantly fought over the city above the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers.
In the 12th century an almost unbelievable event took place, when the Belgrade fortress were reportedly transferred by boat over the river twice. First in 1127, Hungarians withdrawing in front of the Byzantines, relocated the fortress and built Zemun. In 1151 the Byzantine Emperor Emmanuel Comnenus conquered Zemun and brought back the fortress of Belgrade, using boats as well.
In its long and turbulent history, the Belgrade fortress, named " the vestibule of the Christianity" by the west Europeans and " the gate of the wars" by the Turks, was surely the prettiest at the beginning of the 15th century, in the time when it was Renaissance and governed by a despot, and also once again at the beginning of the 18th century when it was baroque and governed by the Austrians.


Kalemegdan, Stambol kapija, Belgrade (Serbia)

Over hundred engravings, made from 16th to the 19th century, preserved the images of the seven summit city and the memory about it. The scenes that not only describe the battles, sieges, conquests and defeats of the city, but also the scenes of the rare periods of peaceful gaps. Still, the most impressive are engravings with scenes of baroque Belgrade, which were made under Austrian rule of 1718-1739.


The Victor statue and view from Kalemegdan terrace. 

Among the paradoxes of Belgrade is certainly the fact that the creator of the Austrian fortress on who's remains we walk today, the Swiss General Nicolas Doscat De Morez was killed, later on, by Austrians under the walls of the fortress, because he allegedly ":surrendered the town of Nis to the Turks" in 1738.
The present remains of the Belgrade fortress were not a fortification in many years. Nowadays, we identify Kalemegdan with the rose of winds, the lovers rendezvous, Sahat (clock) Tower, churches Ruzica and St Petka, the Military Museum, Planetarium, the statue of Belgrade Victor, the Roman Well, sports terrains where Serbian basketball was born, with one of the prettiest parks in the city, with the Art Pavillion, the zoo, great restaurants, and view that is incomparable with any other.


Ruzica church, Kalemegdan


                                                            
                                                               Kalemegdan, aerial view.

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