Kalemegdan Park and Belgrade Fortress Walking Tour, Belgrade

Kalemegdan Park and Belgrade Fortress Walking Tour (Self Guided), Belgrade

The most beautiful park in Belgrade, Kalemegdan Park, or simply Kalemegdan, is also the largest park and the most important cultural and historical complex in the city. The actual park occupies a smaller portion, in the southern corner, of another, grander monument – the Belgrade Fortress (which is some two millennia older).

The fortress itself, often erroneously referred to, even by the locals, as Kalemegdan, is a national heritage (since 1979), perched on top of a 125-meter-high (410 ft) cliff, overlooking the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. As for the park, which is currently split in two – the Great and Little Parks, it was developed in the area that was once the town's field within the fortress.

Inside the fortress, in the former building of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments (1904), there used to be located a Military Museum. In 1956, the museum moved to the nearby, larger building of the Military and Geography Institute, where it has remained ever since.

Generally speaking, the fortress functions as a major archaeological, artistic and historical treasury. As of 2014, it has comprised six monuments and memorials including the Pobednik or "The Victor" memorial (commemorating Serbia's victory over the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires in the Balkan and First World Wars, respectively), the Despot Stefan Lazarević Tower, the Türbe (tomb or mausoleum) of Damad Ali Pasha (one of the few remaining monuments of Islamic architecture in Belgrade, dated 1784), the Mehmed Paša Sokolović's Fountain and others.

Also, there is the Tomb of People's Heroes, built in 1948. In the vicinity of the Pobednik and King's Gate is the so-called Roman Well which, in fact, is neither Roman nor a water well at all, but an underground dungeon existent since the Middle Ages (circa 15th century).

To explore Kalemegdan Park and the Belgrade Fortress more closely, take our self-guided walking tour and enlighten yourself about this fascinating part of the Serbian capital!
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Kalemegdan Park and Belgrade Fortress Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Kalemegdan Park and Belgrade Fortress Walking Tour
Guide Location: Serbia » Belgrade (See other walking tours in Belgrade)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: ChristineT
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Belgrade Fortress
  • Military Museum
  • Tomb of People's Heroes
  • Pobednik (The Victor) and King Gate
  • Roman Well
  • Damad Ali Pasha's Türbe (Mausoleum)
  • Baroque Gate Complex
  • Mehmed Paša Sokolović's Fountain
  • Despot Stefan Tower
  • Zindan Gate
  • Ružica (Rose) Church
  • Gate of Charles VI
  • Nebojsa Tower
Belgrade Fortress

1) Belgrade Fortress (must see)

The Belgrade Fortress is the most visited tourist attraction in Belgrade with over 2 million unique visitors annually. It is the oldest section of the city. The fortress includes the old citadel and Kalemegdan Park. It is located at the top of the Sumadija geological bar, overlooking the Great War Island.

The first fort was built after 100 AD. The remains of this fort are still visible. The fortress was rebuilt by Emperor Justinian I in 535 AD. It was destroyed and rebuilt many times over the years by various warring nations.

The fortress was given to Serbia in the 11th century by Bela I, king of Hungary. It was returned to Hungary in 1427. About 100 years later, it was taken over by the Turks and owned by the Ottoman Empire until 1867. During that time, the fortress was rebuilt and modernized.

In the 1860s, the four outer city gates and walls were demolished and the Serbians regained control of the fortress. It was further damaged during World War I and World War II. In 1965, the fortress became a protected area due to its great cultural significance. Belgrade Fortress was declared a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979.

Some of the areas of interest in the Belgrade Fortress include the Ruzica Church, Despot Stefan Tower, the statue of "The Victor," the Roman Well, Damad Ali Pasha's turbe and the Gunpowder Magazine, among many others. The fortress is also home to the Museum of Natural History, the Military Museum and the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments.

Admission to the fortress is free.
Military Museum

2) Military Museum

The Military Museum is a museum located within the grounds of the Belgrade Fortress. Its focus is entirely on items used in military warfare. It was founded in 1878 by Prince Milan Obrenovic IV as a celebration of Serbia's independence. The first permanent display was unveiled in 1904.

The museum was first located in a small building near the Roman Well. It was destroyed in World War I, as were most of its exhibits. It was reopened in 1937 but didn't move to its existing home until 1956. The building it occupies was originally built for the Military-Geographical Institute in 1924.

The museum has more than 3,000 items on display. Some of these include Greek helmets, Roman swords, Serbian armor and medieval weapons. The museum also displays modern firearms, dioramas and archeological findings. There are collections of decorations, military flags and uniforms as well as artwork and photography.
Tomb of People's Heroes

3) Tomb of People's Heroes

The Tomb of People's Heroes in Belgrade serves as a poignant historical monument commemorating the lives and contributions of four distinguished Yugoslav partisans from World War II. Situated within the Belgrade Fortress, specifically under the walls of the Kalemegdan Fortress, this tomb integrates deeply into the city's rich historical fabric.

Constructed in 1948, the tomb originally entombed the remains of Ivo Lola Ribar and Ivan Milutinović, who were both buried on March 29, 1948. The following year, on April 29, 1949, marking the 20th anniversary of his death, the remains of Đuro Đaković were also interred here. The last of the four, Moša Pijade, was added in March 1957.

Each of these individuals played a significant role during the war and was honored posthumously with the Order of the People's Hero of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, acknowledging their heroism and leadership. The site not only commemorates their military and revolutionary engagements but also serves as a symbol of their lasting legacy in Yugoslav and Serbian history.

The tomb features busts of each hero, crafted by prominent sculptors. Stevan Bodnarov designed the busts of Ivo Lola Ribar, Ivan Milutinović, and Đuro Đaković in 1949, while the bust of Moša Pijade, added later, was designed by Slavoljub Stanković in 1959.

In recognition of its cultural and historical significance, the Tomb of People's Heroes was declared a Monument of Culture by the City Assembly of Belgrade in 1983. Located near the Military Museum and equipped with benches on each side of the busts, the site offers a reflective space for visitors. It remains accessible around the clock and is illuminated after dark, enhancing its visibility and the solemn beauty of the memorial.
Pobednik (The Victor) and King Gate

4) Pobednik (The Victor) and King Gate

Pobednik, known in English as "The Victor," is a monument that celebrates Serbia's victories in the Balkan and First World Wars. The monument was cast in 1913 and erected in 1928.

The Victor is 46-feet tall. It features a nude, male figure cast in bronze holding a falcon and a sword, the symbols of peace and war. It was designed by sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. The statue rests atop a Doric column designed by architect Petar Bajalovic.

The monument was originally meant to be much larger than it is seen today. It was to rest in the midst of a fountain built as an oval basin on the backs of four lions. Twenty bronze masks would surround the basin and 50 more would cover the column. Much of the work was completed when World War I began. Sadly, all but the Victor and lion masks were destroyed.

The Victor sits above King Gate. Tourists can reach The Victor by walking through King Gate and taking the steps to the landing above.

King Gate is the southwestern gate in the innermost city wall. It passes by the Roman Well and connect to the King Ravelin. It is also referred to as Royal Gate.
Roman Well

5) Roman Well

The Roman Well was created to provide water for the city in 1717. Because Belgrade was often under siege, the Austrians, who occupied the fortress at that time, sought a way to reach water without going outside of the walls to the Danube river or the Sava river.

The creation of the Roman Well began with a wooden mechanism designed by Balthasar Neumann. A hole some 177-feet deep was dug with the belief that water from the Sava river would be found. When it was not, the well was transformed into a manually operated cistern.

It was originally called the Great Well but was renamed to Roman Well in the early 19th century when the city was under Serbian rule. This was because it was widely believed that all old structures in the area were Roman.

The well was made of wood, which caused it to rot and eventually deteriorate. The spiral staircase built into the well is still in place but due to safety concerns no one may use the steps or enter the well.

The Roman Well is located near the Pobednik and King's Gate.
Damad Ali Pasha's Türbe (Mausoleum)

6) Damad Ali Pasha's Türbe (Mausoleum)

Damad Ali Pasha's Türbe is an Ottoman mausoleum erected by the Ottoman Empire in 1784. It is located in the Belgrade Fortress. It has a hexagonal base and few decorative accents, which is indicative of Islamic funerary architecture.

The mausoleum was built over the grave of Izzet Mehmed Pasha, commander of Belgrade. It was damaged during the First Serbian Uprising and rebuilt in the early 19th century.

The mausoleum held the body of Silahdar Damat Ali Pasha. Damat Ali Pasha was a vizier. According to the plaque above the mausoleum's portal, Damat Ali Pasha conquered the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece. Selim Pasha and Hasan Pasha, commanders of Belgrade, were also buried in the mausoleum.

Over the years, the mausoleum was used as a storage building, and then a weapons museum. Much of the building was destroyed in 1915 during the bombing of Belgrade. It was restored in the 1930s.

The mausoleum is open 24 hours, seven days a week.
Baroque Gate Complex

7) Baroque Gate Complex

The Baroque Gate Complex includes two gates: Clock Gate and Baroque Gate. It also includes the Clock Tower and two ramparts. The area was originally developed in 1688 but was given the existing Baroque reconstruction in 1739. This was when Baroque Gate was created.

The 90-foot clock tower was built at the same time as Clock Gate, between 1740 and 1789. It was built using the baroque architectural style. It is known as the first clock tower in the city. It remained a functioning clock tower through 2021 when it was damaged by lightning. The original hands are on display in the Institute for the Cultural Monuments Protection.

Both Baroque and Clock Gate were renovated in 2020. The roofs of the gates now offer access to the clock tower. The plateau on which the tower stands is decorated with glass lanterns that are illuminated at night.
Mehmed Paša Sokolović's Fountain

8) Mehmed Paša Sokolović's Fountain

Mehmed Paša Sokolović's Fountain is a fountain near Defterdar's Gate in the Belgrade Fortress. It was constructed in 1577 while Grand Visier Mehmed Paša Sokolović served in Serbia. It is known to be the only surviving fountain from his time.

Born in an Orthodox Christian Serbian family, Sokolović was abducted at an early age as part of the Ottoman devsirme system of forcibly converting Christian boys to muslim in order to serve in Ottoman military. He rose through the ranks of the Ottoman imperial system, eventually became Grand Vizier and served under three sultans.

Although Sokolović was muslim, he remembered his Serbian Orthodox roots and his family. He is credited for persuading Sultan to restore the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć as a gesture of reconciliation.

The fountain has two separate reservoirs. One connects to the water supply constructed during Austrian occupation. The other connects to the older Ottoman-era water supply. It is thought that the connection to the Austrian water supply and an entrance to the reservoir were added between 1719 and 1739.

The fountain was not widely documented after its construction, thus it was lost until the early 20th century. Having been buried, it was uncovered in 1938. The facade and stone slabs were discovered in 1979.

A number of other archaeological discoveries were made while the fountain was unearthed. Among the items founds were remnants from a 3rd century ADE Roman castrum and two urns from the Bronze Age. After they were evaluated, these artifacts were reburied.
Despot Stefan Tower

9) Despot Stefan Tower

Despot Stefan Tower was built by Stefan Lazarevic in 1405. The stone tower is sometimes referred to as Dizdar Tower or Dizdareva Kula. The quadrangular tower received the Dizdar Tower moniker because it was the home of Dizdar, the commander of the Fortress.

It is located next to the Despot's Gate, which is often referred to as the Eastern Upper Town Gate. In the Middle Ages, Despot's Gate was the main entrance to the Belgrade Fortress. It is the best preserved portion of medieval Upper Town with frequent restoration projects taking place.

In 1963, an agreement was reached among the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, members of area astronomical societies and the Belgrade city administration to turn the tower into an observatory. It is now the seat of the Astronomical Society Ruder Boskovic.

The observatory has a refractor Zeiss and reflector Tall 200 K. They are primarily used for observing the night sky. The tower also has four panoramic telescopes that are available for use during the day.
Zindan Gate

10) Zindan Gate

Zindan Gate is the middle southeastern gate. It was built in the mid-15th century to help defend the main entrance to the city. The name Zindan refers to a central-Asian prison. The gate was called Zindan Gate because the Ottomans used the tower basements as dungeons.

Zindan Gate was originally an outpost with two round towers and a passage. There was a moat with a drawbridge in front of the gate when it was first built. The arched gate has a rectangular niche with an alcove for the icon of Saint Sava, the patron saint of Belgrade.

A reconstruction took place in the 18th century during Austrian occupation. The Austrians reroofed the towers on either side of Zindan Gate. Masonry staircases were added so that the towers could be more easily reached. The tower arch was also reinforced.

The latest reconstruction efforts on Zindan Gate began in 2022. The wooden bridge in front of the gate was refurbished and the tower structure was strengthened.
Ružica (Rose) Church

11) Ružica (Rose) Church

Rose Church is a Serbian Orthodox church in the Belgrade Fortress. The original church was built in the 15th century, though the details about who designed and built the church are unknown. It was reconstructed in 1869 and again in 1925 after significant damage during World War I.

Serbian Orthodox services began in 1869 after the completion of the bell tower building. The first bell was placed in 1870. The later reconstruction added two chandeliers, three candelabra and metal reliefs made from sabres, shell cases and bullets.

Two statues were added in 1925. The statues are of a lancer and an infantry soldier. Like the reliefs, that statues were made of scrap materials from the war. The walls were also covered in paintings by Andrej Bicenko.

Ružica means "little rose." A myth about where the church earned its name is that three sisters built three churches within the complex. The sisters were named Cveta, Marica and Ružica. Each church bore one of their names.
Gate of Charles VI

12) Gate of Charles VI

The Gate of Charles VI was named in memory of Charles VI, Austrian Emperor. It was built between 1718 and 1720. The construction was carried out under the orders of Prince Eugene of Savoy.

The facades of the gates were constructed in the German baroque architectural style by Balthasar Neumann. This was rare for the time as most designs incorporated Viennese architecture.

The outer facade of the gate holds a monogram of the emperor. There is also an inscription that read,s "Charlies VI, Roman Emperor, Augustus, supporter of the true faith against Christian enemies, erected this door, a magnificent work, after the conquest of the glorious city of Belgrade." The inner facade of the gate has a carved tablet with a boar's head pierced by an arrow and the coat of arms of Serbia.

The gate was rebuilt by the Germans in 1943, but it was mostly destroyed in World War II. It was rebuilt in 1964 to its former glory.
Nebojsa Tower

13) Nebojsa Tower

Nebojša Tower is a medieval tower in Belgrade Fortress. It was built in the 15th century by the Hungarians and used as a major defensive tower of the fortress. Later, it was used as a dungeon. In 2010, Nebojša Tower was turned into a museum.

The tower was originally called the White Tower, and then renamed to Timisoara Tower. It gained the name Nebojša Tower in 1690 when another tower called Nebojša Tower was destroyed. Nebojša, meaning "fearless," was a common name for towers at that time.

Reconstruction on the tower took place in 1739 while the city was under Austrian rule. The upper part of the tower was lowered. A new floor with a vault was added. An arsenal was placed at the base of the tower, which was used for cannon casting.

After the Ottomans regained control, they used the tower as a prison. It became a dark symbol of Belgrade due to its reputation for torturing and strangling prisoners. Later, Nebojša Tower developed a better reputation as a place for fun and games. The first football game in Serbia took place in the field in front of the castle in 1896.

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