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© Branko Rabotic 1998-2006

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Photo Tour of Belgrade Fortress

Artillery Fort & Medieval Acropolis of Belgrade

Ravelin & Stambol Gate I (1740-1760)Big Ravelin & Stambol Gate I (1740-1760)
This large artillery structure, triangular in shape, was once an outwork of the fortress, built in accordance with the principles of modern military architecture of the 18th century. It has two embankments shaped like an arrowhead that point outwards. Two outer sides are overlaid by bricks and its interior is filled with earth. The two corner gates are still well preserved. One of them is named after the city of Istanbul.

Fortification front with its gate (18th century)Fortification front & Stambol Gate II (1740-1760)
The main front of fortification consists of a curtain-wall and two bastions, one on its each end. Both bastions still have apertures (embrasures) through which the main entrance was once defended under cross-fire from the cannons In the middle of the fortification front lies the main gateway, known as the Stambol gate II. Both doors are well preserved with traces of an attack. In the vaulted passage there are flank guards.

South-eastern rampart of the Acropolis (15th - 17th centuries)Southeast rampart of the Acropolis (15th - 17th centuries)
The southeast rampart of the Upper town lies at the southern border of the main 15th century fortification. The stone wall we can see here is fundamentally of mediaeval origin, though its present appearance dates back to the late 17th century. A new curtain-wall was then built by the Venetian engineer Andrea Cornaro, covering the foregoing and then badly damaged original rampart.

Sahat gate with the Baroque towerClock Gate & Clock Tower (17-18th centuries)
The present-day gateway leading to the area of the Acropolis was built by Andrea Cornaro in the late 17th century. It is known as the Clock or Sahat gate though this Turkish name (sahat = clock) has little to do with its actual origin. The name was given later by way of associating the gate with the Baroque clock tower, erected above it more than 50 years after its construction. The Clock tower is open for visits in 2005 (there is a small entrance fee).

Fortress cannon in the Upper FortressFortress cannon 
Close by the gate, from the other side, one can see a weighty fortress cannon, one of the largest of its kind, which dates back from the late-18th or early-19th century and represents a fine example of defense artillery. It has been brought from some other location and partially reconstructed along with its gun carriage. 

Turkish Mausoleum in the Upper Fortress (18th century)Turkish Mausoleum (18th century)
This 'turbeh' was erected in 1784 to contain mortal remains of a Turkish vizier who died in Belgrade. Surprisingly, in the first half of the 19th century the Turks renamed the mausoleum after another personality, after their hero Damad Ali Pasha, who was wounded in a battle with the Austrians at Petrovaradin in 1717 and died soon afterwards. Although his grave is not here, the mausoleum still has the same name. This is one of the rare monuments of the long lasting Ottoman occupation of Belgrade.

Model of the Castle of the Upper Fortress, made by K. MilunovicModel of the Castle
On the plateau in the north-west corner of the Upper town there is a small bronze model depicting the appearance of a former castle. The castle was built at the beginning of the 15th century as a citadel for the Serbian ruler Despot Stefan Lazarevic and played a role of a fortified refuge surrounded by its own walls and those of the Acropolis. Of all we can see on the model, only the entrance section of the castle has been excavated by archaeologists and those remains are located in the vicinity.

Excavated ruins of the Castle (15-17th centuries)
The conserved ruins belonged to the entrance complex of the medieval castle. They were excavated during systematic archaeological diggings in the 1970's. However, only part of the visible ruins originates from the Despotís period. The rest of remains dates back to the period of Ottoman rule. The castle was greatly destroyed in the late 17th century during Austrian-Turkish war clashes.

Turkish drinking fountain (16th century)Turkish drinking fountain (16th century)
Across from the ruins there is a 16th century fountain built by Grand Vizier of Serbian origin, Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic. As a boy of the subdued Christian people, he was taken by Turks from his family as tribute, so-called 'blood tribute', and raised in the strict Islamic spirit. As one of the best of janissaries he stayed in royal service and took very high positions, playing an important role in the history of the Ottoman Empire. This is one of his remaining endowments.

Eastern part of the medieval AcropolisMedieval structures (1404-1427)
Best preserved medieval remains are located in the eastern section of the Acropolis, where the Despotís gate still stands and serves as a passage. It was once protected by a semicircular tower (partly reconstructed before WWII). On the inner faÁade above the entrance one can see a small arched section probably used to display a fresco painting of the Virgin Mary. 

Zindan gate with its two towers (15th century)Barbican of the Prison's Gate
After the first vain Turkish siege of 1440, the Hungarians built a barbican in front of the Despotís gate in order to better protect the main approach to the town from that direction. The barbican is known today under its later Turkish name "Zindan Gate" (zindan=prison) for, the Turks were used its two strong semicircular towers as disreputable prisons. 

Traces of Roman ramparts in the eastern part of the Upper FortressTraces of Roman ramparts 
A segment of the Roman stone wall and some minor traces of a Roman tower. The Romans settled here in the 1st century AD, when they founded a legionary camp - castrum known under the name Singidunum. Its first defenses were made of earth and palisade, but by the end of the 2nd century a fortified stronghold with stone ramparts made its appearance at the same place. 

Lower Town

Ruzica Church in the Eastern WardRuzica Church in the Eastern Ward
This is the oldest Belgradeís church in terms of continuous occupation of the site. It was founded in the 15th century and in the meantime suffered so much, that today is no longer possible to see its original stones. The church is dedicated to the Nativity of the Theotokos. During Turkish rule the church was converted into a gunpowder store. In its interior there is a valuable iconostasis, and the walls are covered with oil paintings made by a Russian artist. After WWI it served as the military church of the fortress.

St. Petka chapel St. Petka Chapel 
The people honor St Petka, maybe because she was the first Serbian woman to be blessed with the sainthood. She lived at the beginning of the 11th century. The chapel was built in 1937 at the place of an original church which was built in the late 15th century. There is a well (spring) in the church. Its water has some mineral qualities, and people believe it is miraculous.

Remains of the East gate (outer), once a barbican (15th century)Remains of the East gate (15th century)
Eastern gate I (the inner one) was built at the beginning of the 15th century, along with its protecting tower. Being situated in the northeastern rampart, it served as the main entrance to the Lower town. Later on, between 1450 and 1456, Hungarians added the Eastern gate II (the outer one, shown on the photo), made in a form of barbican having two towers. This part of the fortress was almost completely destroyed in WWI.

Nebojsa tower (15th century)Nebojsa tower (15th century)
Near the bank of the Danube stands one of the most recognizable medieval towers of Belgrade. The Nebojsa tower was built by Hungarians in the second half of the 15th century as a cannon tower, in order to protect and defend the Lower town area. It was located on the very edge of the medieval pier of Belgrade, thus facilitating monitoring of all traffic across the Danube in Belgrade area.

The Baroque gate of Karl VI (18th century)Gate of Carl VI (inner facade), 18th century
The Austrians built the Gate of Czar Karl VI (1736) in commemoration of their victories; they regarded it as their triumphal arch. Today, this is undoubtedly the most important Baroque monument preserved to the south of the rivers Sava and Danube. When the gate was completed, it took on the role of the main entrance to the Lower town from the two mediaeval eastern gates.

For less known terms of military architecture consult this fine Glossary
Description of the monuments: B. Rabotic

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