Best places in Southern Serbia!

Pločnik archaeological sitePločnik is the Neolithic archaeological site located in southern Serbia, in the village of the same name.The Vinca culture flourished from 5500 to 4000 BC on the territories of what is now Bosnia, Serbia, Romania and Macedonia. >>Read more.


Djavolja Varos - Devil’s Town

The Djavolja Varoš Natural Landmark belongs to the village of a strange name – Djake, which comes from the Albanian word “gjak” that means blood. The village is located at 660 to 700 meters above sea level. This unusual and mystic place, which very name will chill your bones, comprises of two ravines with ominous names – Djavolja (Devil’s) and Paklena (Hell’s). >>Read more.


 

Niš fortress, Built both by Romans and Serbs, the fortress was razed and rebuilt several times until the Ottomans gave its final appearance in 1730. Niš is one of the rare cities in the world with an impressive fortress in the very center that hasn’t been moved for two millennia. >>Read more.


Justiniana prima 2

Justiniana prima. The city was built by the Emperor Justinian I, who was born in Southern Serbia and was known for having completed the construction of the famous basilica Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia, today the mosque Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. >>Read more.


Vlasina lake and floating islands.Vlasina Lake, 12 kilometers long and 35 meters deep, is a place of exceptional beauty and interesting flora and fauna. The lake is situated on Vlasina plateau in Southeastern Serbia at 1,213 meters above sea level. >>Read more.


LESKOVAC

City of Leskovac. The thing for which Leskovac is famous for is Leskovac grilled meat, made from special beef and spices mixture. The original recipe is kept secret, and still hasn’t left the city. Leskovac Grill Festival an homage to this kind of food. >>Read more.


 

Niš fortress

Niš fortress 1

Old, strong, high ramparts and grates of Niš Fortress, which has stood on the right bank of the Nišava since the first half of the 18th century, are counted as one of the most beautiful and best preserved fortresses in the Central Balkans. The history of the fortification in this location began in the 1st century AD when Roman legions paved the way for a new civilization.
Built both by Romans and Serbs, the fortress was razed and rebuilt several times until the Ottomans gave its final appearance in 1730. Niš is one of the rare cities in the world with an impressive fortress in the very center that hasn’t been moved for two millennia.

Apart from the well preserved stone walls and gates, the Fortress exhibits numerous remains from the turbulent history of Nis. It is also a park, a green oasis in the centre of the city , with a lot of caffes and children playgrounds.

  • STAMBOL GATE (1723.) represents a symbol of the Fortress and the city of Nis. It was built in the period between 1719. and 1723. The marble slab, which is located above the massive wooden gate, was set in 1723. and represents the completion of the main works on the fortress. Besides the rich oriental ornaments on the topside of the gate, there are gear-shaped loopholes and circular holes for cannons which were used for defence of the fortress and the city. There were guard-houses and prison cells in the vaulted passage.
  • HAMAM (Turkish Bath, 1498.) is located at the very entrance of the Fortress, at the left side. According to Ottoman census books, the hammam has existed since 1498 and it represents the best preserved building in the Fortress from the period of the Ottoman rule. It was built as a single bath that was used either by women (usually by day) or by men (by night). Clay pipes used to bring water from the river to the hammam, where it was filtered and heated before it was used.
  • THE ARSENAL (1857.) Located on the right of the entrance of the Fortress, the Arsenal used to be a storehouse where cannons, gunpowder, cannonballs and other weapon and ammunitions were kept. It was specially designed and built with the purpose of storing sensitive materials. It was built by Ismail Pasha in 1857. The Arsenal serves today as an exhibition area of the Gallery of Contemporary Fine Arts.
  • ROMAN THERMAE (4th century). Located at the very entrance of former Naissus, thermae used to play a role in a procedure demanding everyone to bathe before entering the city. This building dates from the 4th century and almost all rooms that comprised the complex of the ancient bath are still preserved today: two central changing rooms, a cold (frigidarium) and a warm (tepidarium) bath.
  • PRINCE MILAN OBRENOVIC AND NIS LIBERATORS MONUMENT (1902.) was erected in gratitude to prince and his army for liberating Niš from the five century long rule of the Ottoman Empire. The monument was symbolically unveiled at the twenty-fifth anniversary of the liberation and the first anniversary since the death of King Milan Obrenović. Italian stonecutter Vincenzo Caliterna made the original monument in the form of a gun bullet, which, with the surrounding composition, represents symbols of the liberation war.bali_beg_mosk

BALI-BEY MOSQUE

  • BALI-BEY MOSQUE (1521.) A mosque is built by a janissary commander Balia from Edrine and it is the only preserved mosque within the Fortress. With its arches and vaults, as well as with richly decorated windows, it represents a pearl of oriental architecture. It was first mentioned in 1521 as a smaller worship place, and not before 1710 was it mentioned as a mosque. Today, this interesting piece of history of Niš is called “Salon 77” and it is an exhibition space of the Gallery of Contemporary Fine Arts.
  • LAPIDARIUM (1st – 4th century). A lapidarium is a unique collection of tombstones which are among the oldest antique monuments in Serbia. It was mentioned first by Austrian traveler Felix Kanitz in 1887, and it can be regarded as the first exhibition in Niš. It is located at the central plateau inside the Fortress and consists of 41 stones from the period between the 1st and the 4th century. The exhibition is comprised of tombstones, votive and sacrificial stones, sarcophagi and sculptures found primarily in the Fortress, but also in the vicinity of Niš and Knjaževac.
  • ANTIQUE STREET WITH BASILICA (2nd-4th century) In one period of its development (3rd century), ancient Naissus became a “municipium”. Not just any city could have such a status, only cities of greater importance for the Roman Empire in a certain area. Because of that, it was lavishly built and decorated. Examples of Late Antiquity architecture can be found in a preserved part of a street with a basilica (2nd-4th century) which made the central, the most sumptuous part of Naissus along with “the Building with Vaults”.
  • GUNPOWDER MAGAZINES (1723.) are military facilities used for the storage of gunpowder and ammunition. Five remain preserved, 4 located along the northern rampart, while another small one is situated in the eastern part of the Fortress.
  • THE OSSUARY MEMORIAL TO THE EXECUTED SERBS BY THE BULGARIANS DURING THE OCCUPATION IN WORLD WAR I (1927) The ossuary is a memorial to the victims of terror in World War I, especially to the murdered patriots and rebels of Toplica Uprising (1917.). It was raised in 1927. at the authentic execution site, marking the length of the wall along which the victims stood. It is located at tranches of the Fortress.
  • PALACE WITH AN OCTAGON (4th century) The Palace is certainly the most lavish building from the 4th century. Because of the construction style, decorations and objects found in it, it is believed that it belonged to some influential person of ancient Naissus, maybe even to Emperor Constantine himself. The examined part is 11 x 30 meters large, but the entire building was much larger.

Antique Fortress – Roman city Naissus

The history of the fortification in this location began in the 1st century AD when Roman legions paved the way for a new civilization. In 2nd century AD, Greek geographer from Alexandria, Ptolemy documented the city of Niš under the name of Naisus.

On February 27th. 274, one of the greatest statesmen in European history, Constantine the Great was born in Naissus . At the time when the story of Constantine the Great begins, ancient Naissus was a central place of the Roman province of Upper Moesia. Small according to the number of inhabitants (20.000) but important as a commercial, military and administrative center, Naisus developed fast.

The city center, which was located in the area of the present-day Fortress, was built in accordance with the principles of Roman urbanism. A central part was a sumptuous square (forum), decorated with statues of Roman gods and surrounded with administration and military buildings, workshops and a basilica.

The remains of some buildings from this period can be still seen today in Niš Fortress ( Lapidarium, Termae, Building with Arches, Ancient street and a Palace with an Octagon).

Ottoman Fotress
In the second half of 14th century, Serbian Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović improved the ramparts of the fortress while preparing for the defense against a rising wave of the Ottoman army.
As one of the most important strategic points in the Balkans, Niš was found under their attack as early as in 1386. After twenty-five days of continuous attack – the city and the Fortress were conquered. Describing a fierce fight in defense of the city, an Ottoman chronicler, besides other things, says about Niš: “This city is a toughstronghold that resembles a bristling dragon with angry spines”.
In the following four centuries under the Ottoman Empire, the Fortress didn’t change its appearance. After the defeat by the Austro-Hungarians at the beginning of the 18thcentury, the Ottoman army left Belgrade, and Niš became the center of their territory on European soil. In order to preserve the existing borders, Sultan Ahmed III issued a decree on February 19th, 1719 that the construction of a large and strong fortress on the Nišava would begin.
The present-day Fortress in the downtown of Nis was built in the period between 1719. and 1730. For its reconstruction it was hired more than 10 000 landowners from 14 provinces, 40 stonecutters from Istanbul, while on the construction of walls worked more than 400 bricklayers. The stone was brought from the quarries in the surroundings of Nis. The end of the main construction works was marked by putting a panel on Stambol gate in 1723.

How to get to the fortress!


When you are alrready here, don’t miss…

Visit the city of Niš. Not by motorcycle, but by walking, because this is the only way to get to know this city. Try Nis Grill, Burek and other specialties. Delicious and great food.

Niš

nis

Birthplace of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, the city of Niš still embodies the combination of exotic East and elegant West.

Today a modern tourist center with museums and historical sites that are on european must see maps, Serbian city of Niš has been a gate connecting the East and the West ever since it was established. Even nowadays, driving down the roads through Niš is the shortest way to reach the Middle East from Europe, or cities like Sofia and Istanbul from Vienna, Budapest or Prague.

This route has been called “Carigradski drum” (The Road to the Emperor’s city ie. Constantinople/Istanbul) since the Middle Ages. In its rich history, Niš was even the birthplace of a great emperor.

There was always something magical about Niš. Exotic and mystical East and reserved but elegant West are nowhere so well reconciled as they are here.

Niš fortress

Niš fortress

During the day you can visit its numerous museums and sites of great historical importance, like the Mediana archaeological site (remains of a luxurious Roman settlement), the Niš fortress (best preserved Ottoman fort in this part of the Balkans) or “Ćele kula” (“The Skull tower“, a unique structure built by the order of the Ottoman Hursid pasha using the skulls of Serbian soldiers killed in the Battle of Čegar during the First Serbian uprising), and then, by night, listen to some music at Nišville jazz festival or watch a movie at “Filmski sureti” (Cinematic meetings) film festival.

cele kula the skull tower

Cele kula ( The skull tower )

It was the Celts that have named this old city, and they did it after the river Nišava that still runs through it. In their language, its name is Navissos – the Fairy’s river.

According to one of the legends about the foundation of Niš, it was built “in time before history” by the rocks brought from a nearby Humska čuka (the Hilltop of Hum). But the most glorious in city’s history was the Roman period.

During that time, Niš was a major cultural, economic and military center, and the birthplace of emperor Constantine the Great, who has proclaimed religious tolerance throughout Roman empire and was first ruler of Rome to convert to Christianity.

Anyone interested in history and ancient Rome should visit the remains of emperor Constantine’s palace in “Mediana” and revive the time of its fame.

Modern day Niš is an important center in Serbia. With the population of more than 250.000 people, it is the third largest city in the country.

Beside numerous historical sites, you shouldn’t miss walking down the city’s main street nor tasting the Serbian cuisine and having lunch in one of its well-known “kafanas” (Serbian traditional taverns).

Get ready for a wide variety of flavors, great barbecue and abundant food portions with a lot of meat and spices but also don’t miss the local “burek” (a kind of cheese pie), a specialty that has its own festival – “Days of burek” – held every September in Niš.

Niška banja (the Spa of Niš) is located just 10 km far from the city, and Sićevačka klisura (the Sićevo gorge) is also near.

When in the city, you can easily arrange an excursion to a natural environment, relax with friends and enjoy the beauty of the area. If you don’t want to organize it yourself, some of the local tourist agencies will do it for you.

How to get to the city of Constantine the great?

 

Nišville Jazz Festival

Nišville Jazz Festival 

Nišville became the most prestigious jazz festival of Southeastern Europe thanks to its unique fusion of music from the Balkans and all types of jazz.

Jazz festival in the city of Niš has a three decades long tradition, and for the last 18 years it bears the name of Nišville. The festival lasts for four days during which you can see performances of around 50 bands and 500 musicians. Each year it is visited by approximately 100.000 people who enjoy both the “traditional” forms of jazz and their mix with ethno traditions from around the world, especially from the Balkans.

Its no wonder such a festival emerged right here in Niš, the city that symbolizes the fusion of the East and the West for centuries.

This Festival has hosted some of the biggest names of world and local jazz scene. Billy Cobham, Roy Hargrove, Tom Harrell, Benny Golson, Solomon Burke, Stanley Jordan, The Rosenberg trio, Larry Coryell, Candy Dulfer, Miroslav Vitous, Milcho Leviev, Chico Freeman, Dr Donald Byrd, Mingus Dynasty, Grace Kelly, Joe “Defunkt” Bowie, Incognito, The Brand New Heavies, Teodosi Spasov, Yildiz Ibrahimova, Duško Gojković, Jamie Davis, Šaban Bajramović and Esma Redžepova are some of the great Jazz musicians that have performed at the stages of Nišville.

The entire program is being organized on five stages – inside and outside the Niš fortress. Beside the main stages, there is a “Movie stage” where visitors can see films about the history of jazz, and a “Rolling stage” which is actually an open buss that cruises the city an attracts a lot of attention. Each year, the festival’s side program includes free workshops for students from Serbia and abroad.

Since 2011, a certain “introduction to the festival” is being organized in the form of two days dedicated to Šaban Bajramović, the legend of Roma music who was named the best soul and blues vocal in the world by some of the top world magazines. His performance of the “Djelem, Djelem” song was declared the anthem of all the Roma in the world.

This great man, who called himself “A Serbian Gypsy”, performed at Nišville just before his death despite being severely ill. A monument to Šaban Bajramović was erected just across the fortress, at the Nišava quay, where for those two “introduction” days numerous musicians, Šaban’s friends and admirers pay tribute to this great musician.

Nišville according to the “DownBeat” magazine

American “DownBeat”, the most famous jazz magazine in the world, defined Nišville as the festival that at the same time promotes jazz as a music direction born in the United States, music tradition of the Balkans, and the combination of these two styles. According to the magazine, “Nišville contributed to presenting the music of the Balkans as a new world trend”.

How to get to the Nišville Jazz Festival?

When you are already here, don’t miss…

…walking along the quay next to the Nišava river, and having a coffee in the thick shade of the Niš fortress. The main street will take you to the monument of Stevan Sremac and Kalča (a Serbian writer and his fictional character), where you should definitely turn into the cobble street “Kazandžijsko sokače”, and fell the spirit of the old Niš.