When we enter Smederevo, there is no sign leading us to its fortress, so we park the car close to the railway tracks, and walk along the Danube waterfront towards the station. Indeed, the southern wall of Smederevo Fortress is right next to the railway tracks. The massive towers on this side of the fortress are mostly in ruins, with severe cracks: a heavy explosion of stored German ammunition in 1941 destroyed much of the fortress and the city, and killed thousands. We enter the fortress through the city gate; much of the inside has the looks of a park, surrounded by a triangle of thick walls with towers. It turns out there are remains of a church and bath, but only the foundations remain. We walk to an opening in the wall on the northwest side, where we walk alongside the wall and the Danube river to the northernmost point of the fortress.
A circular water tower at the northernmost point stands at the confluence of the Danube and Jezava river, and from here, we walk south with tall towers at regular intervals. The Turkish inscription tower stands outside the fortress, and we are back at the southern wall. We enter the fortress again through the main city gate, where we find ourselves in the open space which used to be the suburb of the inner city that was constructed in the northern part of the fortress. Time for a break: we sit at one of the benches to eat grapes we had bought in a village that morning, next to a line of poplar trees that stands parallel to the eastern wall. We now stay inside the fortified walls, and walk a wooden bridge over the water trench to enter the inner city through another gate.
Modeled after the fortress of Constantinople, Smederevo Fortress is a Byzantine complex, built in the early 15th century by a Serbian ruler. After the Turks conquered it, they further fortified it; its strategic location on the Danube river gave it natural importance. Several sieges over the centuries left it relatively intact: most of the damage was done in the Second World War. Some sections have been repaired, but much is still to be done. In the inner city, we find a stage, walk up the wall, which gives us good views of both the inner city as well as the fortified suburbs we have already explored. The double-arched windows in the northern wall give us views of the Danube in the background, and also some idea of how beautiful Smederevo Fortress must once have been.
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