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Serbia: Kalemegdan

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Kalemegdan | Serbia | Europe

[Visited: August 2009]

When entering Kalemegdan from the city side, you might at first think you are entering a nice city park. You see stalls with food and drinks, souvenirs and toys, Serbs taking a break on one of the many benches, there are plenty of trees and fountains, children playing and people talking to each other and updating each other with the latest developments in life, while others are reading a newspaper. As you walk on towards the north, you realize there is more to Kalemegdan than just a park. Actually, there is much more to it. You come across the Monument of Gratitude to France: a thank-you from the Serbs to the French who fought on the side of Serbia in the First World War. The pillared monument topped with a woman symbolizing France is surrounded by a neatly sculpted garden.

Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Zindan Gate with round towers

From here, walls rise up, and when you walk through one of the gates in those walls the other function of Kalemegdan comes out. This actually was a settlement many thousands of years ago - it is thought that the first people lived here some 8,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest settlements in Europe. Its strategic location, overlooking the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, made it the perfect location for building a fortress and a military stronghold. In fact, it has been so for the Celts, the Romans, Slavs, Hungarians, Ottomans, Austrians, and many other people ever since. Obviously, this also meant that the area has been under attack, and indeed, it is claimed 115 battles have been fought over Kalemegdan, and the fortress has been destroyed 44 times - it has always been rebuilt. The name Kalemegdan derives from Turkish and translates loosely to "Fortress field", referring to the wide area around the fortress from where the enemy could easily be fought.

Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Victor monument in Kalemegdan

For some time, the city here was inside the walls of the fortification. It was only later that Belgrade, or the White City, would develop outside the walls of the fortification of Kalemegdan. Nowadays, you can find many different reminders of its rich and long history inside the fortress. The clock tower, built by the Austrians, a mausoleum for a Turkish vizier, a Roman well, many different gates and towers that were all part of the old fortification, remains of a Turkish hammam, but also the 20th century Victor monument and modern art. At the northern side of Kalemegdan, the views over the surrounding areas, the rivers Sava and Danube, are the best you can get. From here, it is possible to walk down the other side; it is only when you are walking at the bottom of Kalemegdan fortress that you realize that the location of the fortress indeed made it difficult to conquer.

Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Kalemegdan is a green space with lots of flowers
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Stambol Gate and clock tower are landmarks of Kalemegdan
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Northern Zindan Gate
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Rose church of Our Lady is overgrown by plants
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): View of Kalemegdan from below
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Family on a tank in Kalemegdan
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Serbian girls relaxing in Kalemegdan
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Wide stairs leading down Belgrade fortress
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Roman well on the upper part of Kalemegdan provided water to the inhabitants
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): The Danube and Sava river can both be seen from the northern side of Kalemegdan
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Defensive walls of Belgrade fortress
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): The Struggle, one of the fountains of Kalemegdan park
Picture of Kalemegdan (Serbia): Mausoleum, or turbe, of Damad Ali-Pasha, last resting place of two commanders of the Belgrade fortress

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