Belgrade Old Town (Zemun) Walking Tour, Belgrade

Belgrade Old Town (Zemun) Walking Tour (Self Guided), Belgrade

Belgrade's Old Town, also known as Zemun, spread around Gardos Hill, is one of the city's oldest parts. Throughout the centuries, as the Balkans were part first of the Roman, then the Byzantine, and then the Austro-Hungarian empires, this area transformed into a beautiful neighborhood with narrow streets, cute buildings, and breathtaking views opening from the hill onto the Old Town and the Danube River below.

Big Square (Veliki Trg) is the heart of Zemun and a focal point for locals and visitors. This bustling spot is surrounded by picturesque buildings, cafes, and shops, creating a vibrant atmosphere that invites people to explore its nooks and crannies. The on-site market is a must-visit for those looking to immerse themselves in the local culture, offering fresh produce, handmade crafts, and a taste of traditional Serbian cuisine.

One of the prominent landmarks in Zemun is the Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A short walk away from it is another religious gem, the Saint Nicholas Church.

Gardos Tower, an iconic symbol of Zemun, stands tall on the Gardos hill, offering a sweeping panorama of the Danube and the city. The nearby Zemun Cemetery holds historical significance and provides a serene place for reflection.

For those seeking to explore typical Balkan architecture, the White Bear Tavern is the only remaining example of such and the oldest surviving edifice on the urban territory of Belgrade. Another well-preserved historical building in the vicinity is Icko's House.

The Franciscan Monastery of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Anthony is a peaceful sanctuary within the neighborhood, while the Homeland Museum of Zemun provides an excellent opportunity to delve into its history.

Don't miss the House with the Sundial, an architectural gem that adds to Zemun's unique charm, and finally, Gospodska Street, a picturesque thoroughfare lined with quaint shops and eateries, perfect for a leisurely stroll.

Anyone with a taste for historic churches, local delicacies, or simply keen on soaking in the ambiance of charming old streets, will find plenty of this and more in Zemun. So, take our self-guided walk and discover the magic of Belgrade's Old Town, where history, culture, and beauty intertwine in a captivating mix.
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Belgrade Old Town (Zemun) Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Belgrade Old Town (Zemun) Walking Tour
Guide Location: Serbia » Belgrade (See other walking tours in Belgrade)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Author: ChristineT
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Veliki Trg (Big Square) and Market
  • Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Saint Nicholas Church
  • Gardoš Tower
  • Zemun Cemetery
  • White Bear Tavern
  • Ičko's House
  • Franciscan Monastery of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Anthony
  • Homeland Museum of Zemun
  • House with the Sundial
  • Gospodska Street
Veliki Trg (Big Square) and Market

1) Veliki Trg (Big Square) and Market

The oldest Zemun square. The arrangement was started in 1784 by the demolition of the Catholic Church and the construction of the City School, the Parish Office and the Church of the Blessed Children of Mary. It fits perfectly into Masarikov Square, Gardos and the Millennium Tower. Today, it is one of the favourite zones in the center of Zemun. Big events and a varied cultural and artistic programme for all generations take place here.

At the square, visitors can fully immerse themselves in the arts and culture through the many outdoor film festivals, music and art performances, church gatherings, and school plays that take place on the site. Surrounding restaurants and outdoor cafes spill onto the square throughout the day and night, making it a popular gathering place for grocers, local residents, and artists of all ages and backgrounds. The restored Zemun market has become a catalyst for the revival of the region, and it is quickly becoming a popular tourist attraction.

The outdoor market in Zemun is the best place to shop for fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, as well as antiques and some odd objects. Up until 1935, it was a cereal market. Nowadays, there are several rows of the best local produce sold at very affordable prices. The market also works as a flea market, where tourists and collectors may find some truly rare items, mostly from the 20th century.
Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

2) Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built in 1795 on the grounds of a former 16th century mosque, and was designed by Thomas Zagrepčanina Miklaušića. The mosque was demolished in 1784, during Austro-Hungarian occupation, which brought in more catholics to the area. The church bears some Empire and Baroque elements and features rather unusual arrangement; unlike most catholic churches, it has the altar facing the east and not the west. Significant restoration work took place there in 1817. The church is situated right in front of the Zemun Outdoor Market.
Saint Nicholas Church

3) Saint Nicholas Church

The Saint Nicholas Church is located just two blocks away from Zemun's Gardos Tower. It was built between 1725 and 1731 in a Baroque style, and features a single nave and a two-story bell tower. The church has all the typical characteristics of an 18th century Baroque church. Its interior is decorated with a richly carved iconostasis, with the icons painted in 1762 by Demetrius Bacevic, one of the most famous Serbian painters of the second half of the 18th century. The church boasts a rich collection of ancient cult objects and the 18th-19th century icons.
Gardoš Tower

4) Gardoš Tower

Kula Sibinjanin Janka - the Millennium Tower - otherwise known as the Tower on the Hill, or simply the Gardoš Tower, is an attraction in its own right. It was built and officially opened on August 20, 1896, to celebrate one thousand years of Hungarian settlement in the Pannonian plain. The tower came as part of a massive construction effort which included buildings in Budapest, as well as four millennium towers in each of the world's four directions. Being the southernmost city in then Hungary within Austria-Hungary, the tower was built on the ruins of a medieval fortress on Gardoš Hill (only angular towers and parts of the defending wall had survived). The tower was built as a combination of various styles, mostly influenced by Roman elements. As a natural lookout, it was used by Zemun's firefighters for many decades. Today, the tower is better known for its indirect association with Janos Hunyadi, who had died in the old fortress four and a half centuries before the tower was built.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Zemun Cemetery

5) Zemun Cemetery

Zemun Cemetery is a public cemetery situated in Zemun on the Gardoš Hill. It is bounded by Cara Dušana Street, Nade Dimić Street, Sibinjanin Janka Street and Grobljanska Street, as well as with the staircase towards the Branka Radičevića Square, thus making the northwest boundary of the Old Core of Zemun. The cemetery is proclaimed the cultural monument.

Zemun cemetery on the Gardoš is located on the wooded plateau above the old part of the town and the Danube bank. It was established for the Catholic population, after the Turkish authorities had been expelled from Zemun and the town was incorporated into the Austrian Empire (1717). By the end of the 18th century the old Orthodox graveyard was moved to the same plateau. Both cemeteries are today at the same place, including the Jewish which was established in that location after 1739. By the middle of the 20th century the cemetery had filled up the present area and the authorities planned to open a new graveyard. However, that idea was realized after the Second World War and that new graveyard now serves a larger part of Belgrade.

The use of the old cemetery has been continued, although the idea was to bury there only those people whose families owned burial places there. The problem is still acute, particularly because a great number of tombs where the eminent persons were buried and numerous memorials of historic and artistic value have to be preserved.

In the Orthodox of the cemetery there are: the protected endowment church of the St. Demetrious, of the merchant family Petrović-Hariš (1876),the chapel of Spirta family (around 1911), The monument to the fallen and dead Serbian soldiers 1914–1918 (1928), the important graves of the former Greek and Tzintzari colony, graves of Russian refugees (since 1920), of the first pilots of Yugoslav passenger planes, businessmen, philanthropists, priests, scientists, writers, artists and others, with a large number of sculptures on them, the works of the eminent sculptors.

The Catholic cemetery keeps: a chapel from 1763 with several memorial plaques on its façade, a stylized chapel from 1909 of the Treščik family of pharmacists, a memorial to the warriors 1914–1918, a Neo–Gothic crucifixion in metal INRI, the graveyard of the nuns who worked in hospitals (since 1887) and schools (since 1928), memorial tombstones of merchant families.

The Jewish cemetery, one of the oldest in Serbia, has been the burial place since the arrival of Jews in the Austrian Zemun (1739) till the present time. The stone memorials have characteristic shapes, from votive plates to modern and representative, such as the tombstone to businessman Gabriel Polgar (1915)
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
White Bear Tavern

6) White Bear Tavern

White Bear Tavern (Serbian: Кафана "Бели медвед", romanized: Kafana "Beli medved") is a former kafana in Belgrade, in the municipality of Zemun. First mentioned in 1658, it is the oldest surviving edifice in the territory of modern Belgrade, not counting the Belgrade Fortress.

It is not recorded when the house was built, but it is believed that it originates from the first half of the 17th century. French traveler Michel Quiclet visited Zemun in 1658, then part of the Ottoman Empire. He mentions the house as the largest of three khans in town. The house is also depicted on the 1663 military map of Zemun, made by the German cartographer Heinrich Ottendorf. House is mentioned in 1717, when Prince Eugene of Savoy dwelled in it, preparing for the siege of Belgrade. The object was later named the "Zartaken" and as such appeared on the oldest urban plan of Zemun from 1740.

During the 18th century, the ground floor was turned into kafana. It is not known when and how the kafana got its name. It was originally called only Kod medveda ("Bear's"). The kafana was noted for its cimer, a hanging tin plaque with an image of the standing bear. As the town's house painters gathered in the kafana, celebrating their guild's festivities, they often painted the cimer, changing the color of the bear, into black, grey or white. As they mostly painted it in white, the locale became known as the "White Bear".

The house is the only remaining example of the typical Balkan architecture in the Old Core of Zemun, from the period of Ottoman rule (16–17th century). It is one-storey edifice, built in the bondruk manner, with timber construction filled with unbaked bricks.

A two-forked underground corridor, called lagum, was dug beneath the house. One is 10 m (33 ft) and the other is 14 m (46 ft) long. The walls are laid with bricks. While the house served as the kafana, they were used as a refrigerator. During the winters, when the Danube would freeze, the ice was cut with the saw and brought into the lagum. The food and drinks were kept in the layers of ice and straw. They were called ledenica ("ice room") and were usually allowed to be entered only once a day. As the corridors had good ventilation and a proper temperature, they were used as the wine cellar, too. There are additional lagums around the house. One, which is directly accessible from the living room of the present tenants on the first floor, is used as the larder, since the temperature is constant throughout the year, at 17 °C (63 °F).

The house is placed under the "preliminary protection", but it hasn't been kept by the city or preserved in any way. In February 2020 it was announced that if government provides funds in April, the project of the full reconstruction will be drafted by the Institute for the Cultural Monuments Protection. It is a prerequisite for placing the building under the full legal protection.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Ičko's House

7) Ičko's House

Ičko’s House is a Classical-style building, built in 1793. It consists of a basement, ground floor and partial second floor formed by a high gable roof with dormers. The tavern Marko Kraljević was on the ground floor, while the first floor was used for housing. The building is one of the oldest preserved houses, and is representative of a town house at the end of the eighteenth century.

The building is known as Ičko’s House because the rebel diplomat and trader Petar Ičko stayed in it from 1802–1803 when he had to leave Belgrade after the return to power of the Dahije. Ičko played a role in the First Serbian Uprising in 1804, working with the Serbian rebels.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Franciscan Monastery of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Anthony

8) Franciscan Monastery of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Anthony

The Franciscan Monastery of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Anthony is the only Franciscan monastery in contemporary Belgrade. The Franciscans built a monastery in Belgrade in 1717, which was then relocated and sustained multiple damages over the years, including those during wartime and burnings. 40 years later, in 1807, the monastery underwent reconstruction; in 1838, a tower was added. The Franciscan cross brought to the site in the 18th century is still in place. Back in the 1990s, the Franciscan cloister accounted for nearly 6,000 books and objects of art. Nowadays, both the monastery and the church are declared cultural monuments and enjoy state protection.
Homeland Museum of Zemun

9) Homeland Museum of Zemun

The Homeland Museum of Zemun, founded in 1955, documents the area's history from the earliest settlement to the present day. The museum's building was erected in 1848 and originally belonged to one of the wealthiest and most influential local families, the Spirtas. The building features Neo-Gothic design with flamboyant windows, which stands out among the other buildings in the vicinity.
House with the Sundial

10) House with the Sundial

The House with the Sundial is a landmark building in central Zemun. This 19th century corner mansion has a sun clock on its side, facing Dubrovacka Street. The sun clock still works, showing the correct time when it's sunny. The building was designed in a Classical style, with some Baroque features. The place is also renowned for being the home of writer Jovan Subotić, who spent there his last years.
Gospodska Street

11) Gospodska Street

Gospodska Street is a pedestrian shopping lane in Zemun and its main attraction as such. This tidy street is a hub of little shops, boutiques, and sidewalk cafes and restaurants. Many historic buildings and architectural monuments are found here too. The street is landmarked by the Zavetni Cross, a victory memorial erected by Lazar Urosevic in 1863. This is also a popular venue for public gatherings and fairs.

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