The History of Belgrade Fortress
Published: November 7, 2010 | Source: Belgradenet.com | Share / Bookmark
With impressive views over the Danube and Sava rivers, the Belgrade Fortress and the Kalemegdan Park together represent a cultural monument of exceptional importance, the area where various sport, cultural and arts events take place, and are fun and joy for all generations of Belgraders and numerous visitors of the city.
The Belgrade Fortress has not developed continuously over the course of its long history. Applied defence systems from various periods intertwine, emerging on the remnants of older fortifications; newer construction at times adjusted to older structures, but sometimes subverted them. The old fort contains various styles of European military architecture, covering a span of over two millennia.
The Belgrade Fortress was erected on the hill above the junction of the Sava and Danube rivers at the end of the 1st Century as the permanent camp of the Roman Legion Flavia Felix. Attacked and conquered several times throughout the centuries, the old Roman fortress was finally destroyed in the early 7th century in attacks staged by the Avars and Slavs.
The first Slavic settlement emerged on the ruins of this ancient fortress, which by the end of the 9* century was already known to contemporaries as Beograd (Belgrade). In that early medieval period, ancient ramparts were used for defence, rather than constructing new ones. Only in the middle of the 12th century, the Byzantine Czar Manuel Comnenus erected a new castle upon the Roman ruins.
The Belgrade Fortress's further development was conditioned by the efforts of Serbian rulers to secure their state's borders on the banks of the Sava and Danube rivers. As a new center of Serbia, under the rule of Despot Stefan Lazarević, Belgrade has been fortified with wide forts of Upper and Lower Towns. At the old castle, despot's palace has been built, and a war port has been built on the Sava. Within the walls, a prosperous mediaeval town has been developed. The new fortifications were supposed to defend the ruler's seat and prevent a Turkish breakthrough towards the centre of Europe.
Serbian military architecture reached its zenith in the construction of Belgrade's fortifications. This venture and latter construction in the 15" century are seen in Despot's Gate, the Coiner Tower of Upper Town, Zindon Cote with its cannon positions, among the oldest in Europe, the Eastern Suburb and especially the famous NebojSa Tower at the former entrance to the Belgrade Pier.
A new period began with the Austrian-Turkish war. Having been the key fortress in the center of war actions during the 18th century, it has been reconstructed three times. The old castle has been demolished, and a large part of mediaeval walls was covered by new fortifications. Under the Austrian rule, from 1717 to 1739, after the construction of new, modern forts, the Belgrade Fortress became one of the strongest military fortifications in Europe. The latest solutions in European military architecture of those times were applied in the defence system of Belgrade. Unfortunately, the great piece built according to the design of Nicholas Doxat de Morez was thoroughly destroyed, and its remaining fragments are just some of the Baroque facade towers of the Fortress.
By the end of the 18" century, the Belgrade Fortress got its final shape, but this coincided with its loss in military and strategic importance. At the time of the final handover of the city to the Serbian army in 1867, the fortress no longer played a crucial role in the city's defence.